Hispanic/Latino leaders from six denominations gather

By The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez
Sept. 16, 2015 ǀ Nashville, Tenn. (UMNS)

More than 100 clergy and lay leaders from six Christian denominations gathered Sept. 9-12 for the first ecumenical Latino training for church planters and missioners. The event was Ecuménica de Desarrollo de Iglesias Latinas (Ecumenical Network of Development for Latin Churches), or REDIL.

The event focused on leadership, communications, liturgy, stewardship, planning, evangelism, theology and other topics.

Participants included:

  • Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
  • Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
  • Presbyterian Church (USA)
  • The Episcopal Church
  • The United Methodist Church
  • United Church of Christ


Members from six different Christian denominations gather for Communion at the first ecumenical Latino training for church planters and missioners. Photo by Michelle Maldonado, United Methodist Communications

The Rev. David Martinez, director of specialized programs of theological education at the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, explained training objectives.

“In the first training,” he said, “we are living the experience of cohabitating during a special time together as God’s people, developing tolerance and understanding of the differences between our traditions, learning, planning and envisioning ministerial development work.

“Our expectation with REDIL is to follow up on this first experience within a period of six to nine months and meet again to continue to coordinate the joint initiatives that contribute to the development of new churches and ministries that serve this country’s Hispanic/Latino community.”

REDIL is a space to meet, share resources and mutually strengthen ministries. The network bases its work on the following commitments:

  • Ensure that the church hears and addresses the voices of all marginalized Hispanic/Latino communities.
  • Be a prophetic voice within and outside the church.
  • Prioritize and commit to the new-generation Latino bilingual community.
  • Focus on strengthening the lives of people, not institutions.
  • Join as peers in the missionary journey. Share interdenominational resources in a spirit of collaboration, coordination, education and inclusiveness, welcoming the diversity of gifts to extend God’s reign. Be open to the gifts each denomination brings.
  • Ensure that the passion for similarities extends beyond denominational differences.

On Sept. 11, participants marched from the Scarritt-Bennett Center chapel to Vanderbilt University’s Benton chapel to remember victims of the terrorist attack 14 years ago. Carrying crosses covered with colorful ribbons, they sang a poem by Saint Teresa of Avila.

As a REDIL participant, The United Methodist Church was involved in the training through the National Plan For Hispanic/Latino Ministries, Board of Global Ministries; Specialized Theological Education, Board of Higher Education and Ministry; Board of Discipleship; and Hispanic/Latino Communications Office, United Methodist Communications.

Vasquez is director of the Hispanic/Latino Communications, United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tennessee. Michelle Maldonado, associate director of Hispanic/Latino Communications translated and adapted this story.

News media contact: The Rev. Gustavo Vasquez, United Methodist Communications, gvasques@umcom.org, 615-742-5400.

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