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Hispanic/Latinx pastors finish Spanish taught licensing school

Posted: August 17 2022 at 08:04 PM
Group Sls

A large group of Hispanic/Latinx local pastors takes the next steps to becoming licensed through a program at Garrett taught in Spanish.

One of the first steps to becoming a License Local Pastor is to attend a United Methodist Licensing School, which requires having a minimum of 80 hours of instruction with students. They receive training and mentorship in areas such as Administration and Leadership, Pastoral Care, and United Methodist Theology.

To bring this opportunity to Hispanic/Latinx pastors, Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (GETS) offered the Spanish Licensing School this year from May to August for 20 students from several conferences, including twelve from the Northern Illinois Conference.

"This is a great accomplishment for our students who have been waiting to fulfill this step for years, and it's a great celebration for our Northern Illinois Conference to know that twelve Hispanic/Latinx servants will be licensed as Local Pastors and are eager to be trained to be better servants of Jesus Christ," said Rev. Fabiola GrandonMayer, Prairie North District Superintendent, who has walked hand in hand with this group of pastors. "This also shows us that great things can happen with goodwill, dedication, and commitment."

After the students receive the official documentation of completion from GETS, once appointed by the bishop, students can receive a license for pastoral ministry. This allows them to preach and teach, lead worship, receive new members, perform the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion in their appointment setting, and carry out other pastoral duties.

Many of the NIC students also recently graduated as lay missioners from the Conference Academy for Faith Community Development, a rigorous two-year process of growth for participants, both gaining knowledge for effective ministry and experiencing a personal transformation. said Rev. Martin Lee, NIC Director of Congregational Development and Redevelopment. 

"The Conference Academy is a portal for recruitment and learning," said Rev. Martin Lee, NIC Director of Congregational Development and Redevelopment. "Its goal is to develop Christ-like servants based on demonstrated giftedness. Participants are admitted by recommendation based on fruit rather than having a specific educational background. Among the Lay Missioners, a significant number have pursued the Spanish Licensing School. I pray that each graduate of this program will bear fruit as they abide in Jesus Christ. I am thankful for each one of them and their commitment to and love of Jesus Christ."

Garrett has held the Spanish Licensing School every other year for more than a decade, but leaders say this year was unique. "What was different about this year was our weekly online format that made learning more accessible, especially for those students who work part-time or full-time alongside their ministry practice," said Rev. Lisl Heymans Paul, GETS' Director of Course of Study.

Paul also said the faculty diversity, including clergy from Northern Illinois, Illinois Great Rivers, Indiana, Wisconsin Conferences, and a Ph.D. student from Garrett and President Javier Viera, also made this year's program special.

"These excellent faculty provided a wealth of experience and commitment to collaborate on behalf of and with the Spanish Licensing students," said Paul. "President Viera shared with me his delight in teaching these students and Garrett's commitment to continuing to support their ministry formation."

Paul added that the seminary looks forward to these students continuing in the Course of Study and Master's degree programs.

"Personally, it was inspiring for me to witness the dedication and perseverance of the students," said Paul. "All of our Licensing School faculty remarked how connected the group was and what a joy it was to teach and learn along with the students."

One of the students, Xiomara Castro, who is serving at Iglesia Metodista Nuevo Amanecer in Des Plaines, said the experience was a blessing and a dream come true. "The preparation and teachings of the teachers increased our knowledge and prepared us for the performance and guidance in our Methodist Congregations," said Castor. "They trained us to deepen in Methodist Theology, in the administration that is a vital part of the Church, and for the life of our congregation. We can clearly see now that our humble plans, God turns them into great projects, and this project is one of them."

Garrett and Course of Study coordinators say they're committed to the student's successful completion of the program.

"We are very excited to continue providing student support services to our Spanish Licensing School students, especially in their native language, español," said Honorio Morales, Coordinator of Course of Study from GETS. As we concluded its 12 weeks of the SLS program, we celebrated students’ accomplishments with a virtual closing ceremony where participants received a certificate of completion and shared their learning experiences and potential impact on their congregations."

Morales reported that one student remarked, “this program makes us feel important by constantly encouraging us to continue while receiving the guidance of Latinx faculty.” Another student stated, “Culminar este programa ha sido el mejor regalo recibido este verano para mí y mi comunidad” (Completing this program has been the best gift that my community and I have received this summer).”

All participants expressed tremendous gratitude for this opportunity and are eager to continue with the Course of Study in español next year.

~Information compiled by Rev. Fabiola Grandon-Mayer(Information compiled by Rev. Fabiola Grandon-Mayer

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