Empowering Hispanic Students and Growing Young Congregations

In the U.S., Lake Union Conference Hispanic pastors convene at Andrews University.

Felicia Tonga, Lake Union Herald
Empowering Hispanic Students and Growing Young Congregations
Lake Union Hispanic pastors convened at Andrews University May 13-14. [Photo: Felicia Tonga]

Andrews University has recently been recognized by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities as the first Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI) in Michigan, United States. In response to this recognition, Hispanic pastors from across the Lake Union Conference territory gathered in Berrien Springs to explore the opportunities and support available for Hispanic students.

On May 13 and 14, Hispanic pastors representing the five Lake Union conferences — Illinois, Indiana, Lake Region, Michigan, and Wisconsin — convened at Andrews University. Their objective was to gain insight into the enrollment process, available programs, and financial support tailored specifically to aid Hispanic students in achieving academic success.

The event commenced with a warm welcome from Lake Union president Ken Denslow, followed by presentations from professors in the religion department, enrollment staff, and university financial advisors. These presentations aimed to equip pastors with comprehensive knowledge of accessible resources to Hispanic students.

Andrews University president John Wesley Taylor V emphasized the institution’s commitment to strongly support Hispanic young people in their pursuit of higher education. He also expressed a desire to support Hispanic pastors by sharing scriptures about the call for disciples of Christ to be servant leaders.

Carmelo Mercado, Lake Union general vice president, expressed solidarity with the school and with Hispanic students. “We want to affirm and support the efforts Andrews University is making for the Hispanic community by bringing awareness to our churches and young people,” he said.

The two-day session concluded with a special commissioning prayer, during which Lake Union pastors gathered around Taylor, praying for God’s blessing for both him and the university in this initiative.

Five of the Hispanic pastors attending the gathering at the Lake Union headquarters have recently received certification from the Fuller Youth Institute to adapt church culture in their congregations to support inter-generational ministry. At the Andrews meeting, Josant Barrientos, Illinois Conference youth director, provided further guidance on the principles of Growing Young. 

Mercado expressed enthusiasm for the pastors. “They are eager and excited to apply their newfound knowledge and are ready to undertake the challenging task of growing their church’s young population.”

The participating pastors will spend the year implementing within their congregations the strategies learned during the program. A comprehensive report on their experiences and outcomes will be presented next year at Conéctate 2025, providing valuable insights into the effectiveness of the seminar’s teachings.

The original version of this story was posted by the Lake Union Herald.

Felicia Tonga, Lake Union Herald