Thinking in new ways dominated the conversation at the 16th National Hispanic and Bilingual Assembly. From the youth theme of “Refocus” based on Galatians 5:7-8 to the Saturday morning conference, The Challenge of Communicating the Gospel to a Postmodern World, participants in the assembly explored the new cultural context the Church finds itself navigating in 2012 by recalling the Great Commission in Matthew 28.
More than 250 Disciples including youth and children gathered in San Antonio for the meeting July 19-22. While there were pre-events for pastors and their families and sermons during worship, the program planners introduced some new elements to the activities.
One of the new approaches was to introduce the youth to a number of the General Ministries of the church with visits from Higher Education and Leadership Ministries, Global Ministries and more. Another addition was the opportunity for pastors and church leaders to talk together in small groups about the challenges facing their congregations, to report out to the larger group, and to continue a discussion in small groups again.
Other conference sessions spanned subjects from immigration to finance and welcoming new believers to identifying new leaders for the Church.
The women’s group enjoyed fellowship and learning about human trafficking from a local San Antonio agency and providing supplies for the ministry. The younger children enjoyed lessons on transformation and helped make health kits for an orphanage in Mexico connected to the work of Rev. Feliberto Pereira.
And celebration continued with the recognition of a number of individuals with awards: Somos Uno award for outstanding leadership that empowers diversity to Co-regional ministers Rev. Don Dewey and Susan Gonzalez of the Pacific Southwest; an award in leadership excellence to Rossy Castillo-Ricart of Indianapolis; Outstanding Pastor and Church to Roberto Cesar Romero and Iglesia Cristiana in Milwaukee, Wisc.; and an award in excellence in a Hispanic and bilingual pastorate to Moses and Evelyn Nieves at La Familia Cristiana in the Bronx, NY.
Business sessions included reaffirmation of a resolution from the 2000 assembly against the ordination of homosexuals, making it a declaration; recommendation to name panel to determine the best ways to be in relationship with the General Church; re-election of Rev. Dr. Huberto Pimentel as national pastor; approval to join the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (an evangelical organization with partners including Indiana Wesleyan University, Personhood USA and Focus on the Family); approval of the new board of directors; and receiving of reports from the Central Pastoral Office for Hispanic Ministries and from the regional convencions. A panel also asked General Minister and President Sharon Watkins a series of questions regarding her June 2012 pastoral letter about living respectfully while we disagree and inviting a church-wide conversation about sexual orientation.
More photos are available on the Disciples of Christ FaceBook page