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The Association for Hispanic Theological Education 1991–2016

Twenty-five years after its creation:

A historical outline of the origins and development of AETH and its vision of the future


s we commemorate the twenty-fifth anniversary of its foundation, it is appropriate to write an outline of the origin and history of the Association for Hispanic Theological Education from the experience of those who saw its birth “with their own eyes.” Therefore, this is not a detailed historical account. That is a pending task and an invitation that we trust will be accepted by people interested and able to undertake it. We present this historical sketch with gratitude to God and as an invitation for you to join the vision this group of people had twenty-five years ago and today hundreds of people, such as ourselves, are committed to renew. On behalf of the Executive Council, the Certification Committee and the Editorial Committee, the office staff and all the people and institutions that make up the membership of AETH, Fraternally in Christ,

Dr. Fernando A. Cascante-Gómez Executive Director October 2016 Orlando, Florida 2

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Historical outline of the origins and development of AETH

Precursors to AETH’s formation 1988: Study on Hispanic theological education

The background of the Association for Hispanic Theological Education (AETH) dates back to the year 1988. It was the middle of this year when the study on the state of Hispanic theological education in the United States (and Puerto Rico) was published, with funds provided by the Fund for Theological Education. The study revealed that: 1) Even though theological education offered by member seminaries of the ATS is important for the future of the Hispanic church, the vast majority of Hispanics serving in the ministry does not have access to these seminaries. 2) These pastors play an important role in the Hispanic community and, therefore, the contribution they and their churches make to their communities cannot be ignored. 3) The training of leaders for Hispanic churches is done mainly through Bible institutes and programs in churches and denominations.

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4) There is a great need to promote more dialogue and greater collaboration among the vast variety of institutions and programs that provide theological education for Hispanic people.

1989: Steering Committee

In light of the results of the study, in 1989 a small group saw the need and importance of promoting and facilitating a meeting of Hispanics involved in the theological training of pastors at various levels throughout the country. This group of five people, the “Steering Committee”, worked on a proposal to convene a First National Encuentro for Hispanic Ministry Teachers. The proposal was presented to the Pew Charitable Trusts, which had a Hispanic leader who played an important role during the talks that led to its approval. The date and place of the meeting would be from Saturday 23rd to Monday 25th of August 1991 at Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. Its purpose was to meet other leaders of Hispanic theological education, share experiences and resources, and find ways to encourage mutual support.

1990: Advisory Committee

In 1990, with funds already approved, an Advisory Committee responsible for planning and conducting the First National Encuentro for Hispanic Ministry Teachers was created. 5


The team (12 men and 2 women) set the goal of inviting between seventy and one hundred Hispanics involved in the formation of pastors, in some cases for over two decades. In addition, this group of “a hundred” would represent all the regions of the United States and Puerto Rico, as well as a variety of churches, and different levels of theological training. It would also include Hispanic executives and denominational leaders, as well as representatives of publishing houses.

The beginning of the story 1991: First National Encuentro for Hispanic Ministry Teachers: birth of AETH 103 people from all the regions of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and representing over 20 denominations attended this meeting. The working sessions resulted in the following decisions: 1. To create the Association for Hispanic Theological Education, whose membership would be open to people in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico involved and interested in theological education at different levels. of theological education. 2. To appoint an Executive Council to plan the next encounter and prepare a draft of the statutes for the Association. 3. To start a bimonthly newsletter. 6

4. To establish an annual fee of $ 25 for members of the Association. 5. To convene a second encuentro for Friday 21st to Sunday 23rd of August 1992.

1992: Second Meeting, First Assembly of AETH: “I shall pour out my Spirit”

About 100 people attended the meeting, gathered for the first time as the Assembly of the Association for Hispanic Theological Education. Two key issues were addressed: 1) the “Constitution” of AETH and 2) the election of the first person for the post of Executive Secretary of the organization. The general theme of the Assembly was “I shall pour out my Spirit.”

The historical development of AETH: 1991-2016

The emergence of AETH and its 25-year pilgrimage to this day are the result of a move of the Spirit (the central theme of the first Assembly) in people and institutions willing to work for Hispanic theological education.

Places and people

Since its inception, AETH has expressed an interest in serving the entire Latino community in all regions. Although it started at Columbia Theological Seminary in Georgia, where it had its first offices, after some years these were moved to Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, then to Colorado, and finally to the facilities of Asbury Seminary in Orlando. In the same way, the biennial assemblies of the AETH have circulated through various regions of the United States and Puerto Rico. Throughout this process AETH has had the vision, commitment and support of many people moved and inspired by the Holy Spirit. Their name is legion, and they include pastors, teachers, directors of Bible institutes, denominational leaders and many others. The persevering support of these people, even in difficult times, is a sign of the action of the Holy Spirit and the relevance and importance of the mission of AETH.

Partnerships and programs

The hallmark of AETH has been collaboration—collaboration among individuals, institutions and ministry training programs, denominational agencies, local churches, and philanthropic 7


institutions. That spirit is manifested in all programs that up to this day identify the work of AETH. These include the production of books and other resources for training, the Tertulias Pastorales, the Certification of Bible Institutes, and the workshops, consultations and conferences sponsored by Justo L Gonzรกlez Center for Hispanic Ministries.

Tertulias Pastorales

Over the years, through the Tertulias Pastorales Program, AETH has involved over: 1,500 pastors

600 lay leaders

850 congregations

Book series

Through its three books series in Spanish and other books in English and Spanish, AETH has provided to and promoted among Bible institutes invaluable resources for a more sound biblical, theological and pastoral training of Hispanic leaders. Serie Conozca su Biblia (Ausburg-Fortress) 25

Serie Introducciones (Abingdon)

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Serie Ministerios (Abingdon) 230 gatherings 9

Other publications (AETH) 6

40 cities

That spirit of cooperation is also manifested in the three theological institutions that served as headquarters for AETH offices. In addition, there is a growing number and variety of theological institutions that have lent their facilities, services and resources for all kinds of activities and meetings of AETH. Proof of this are the recent seminaries that have given their support to the Justo Center Lectures: Asbury Theological Seminary 8

(headquarters of the Center), Fuller Theological Seminary (host and sponsored of the 2014 Lectures), Princeton Theological Seminary (host and sponsor of the 2016 Lectures), and Wesley Theological Seminary (host and sponsor of the 2018 Lectures). This effort to promote collaboration among organizations within the ecosystem of theological education is also seen in the number of organizations, publishing houses and denominational agencies that in different ways have contributed to the work of AETH in different periods of its history. The vast majority of AETH publications have been made possible thanks to resources and partnerships with denominational agencies, publishing houses, institutions of theological education, local churches, and contributions from both individuals and philanthropic agencies. The First National Encuentro for Hispanic Ministry Teachers and the first Assembly of AETH were made possible thanks to the vision of The Pew Charitable Trusts. Furthermore, other philanthropic organizations have joined the effort of AETH. The support from Lilly Endowment Inc. was critical for the Tertulias 9


Pastorales Program, which has brought together hundreds of pastors and church leaders in dozens of cities in the United States and Puerto Rico. In the past two years, the DeVos Urban Leadership Initiative and the Kern Family Foundation have also supported this program. Organizations such as the Louisville Institute, the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning, and several others have supported our events.

This history confirms two of the central purposes for the creation of AETH: Promoting the development and advancement of Hispanic theological education. Promoting collaboration among individuals, churches and organizations that are part of the ecology of theological education.

The Bible Institutes Certification Program is the most recent example of this tradition of collaboration. Created by a joint commission of AETH and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), this program was approved by the Board of Accreditation Commissioners of ATS in March 2013. The implementation of a Certification process (with four institutes already certified and ten others in various stages of the process) came to crystallize the vision and efforts to close the gap between what happens in Bible Institutes and what happens in formal theological education in seminaries. All this was possible thanks to the important collaboration and significant contribution of the Henry Luce Foundation. 10

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AETH: Let us imagine the future

Generational shifts

Imagining the future of AETH for the next 25 years requires, on one hand, celebrating and reaffirming the values and vision that made AETH’s origin possible and, on the other hand, identifying and addressing the changes that challenge AETH to renew and expand its vision and mission. Much has changed since AETH was created. Today, 25 years later, the following changes stand out: The community and the Hispanic church are much larger and their impact is widely recognized. Hispanic faith communities represent a unique revitalization movement for most churches and denominations.

There is a greater openness to rethinking traditional models of theological education. New technologies and media present new opportunities. 12

Younger than 18 18-33 34-49 50-68 69 and older

AETH Active Members by Year 250

228 181

150 100 50 0

72

161

109

109 52

2014

Active Institutional Members Active Individual Members Total Members

22%

Uruguay

3,310,000 3,508,000

Panama

3,764,000

144 84

6,460,000 6,514,000

Paraguay

7,003,000

Dominican Republic

2016 Linear (Total)

Spanish dominant

11,252,000

Guatemala

16,176,000

Ecuador

16,279,000

2015

The United States has the second highest number of Spanish-speaking persons in the Americas and the world.

18,006,000

Venezuela

30,620,000

Peru

31,153,000

Mexico

2012

9,980,000 10,520,000

USA Hispanics

36

8,950,000

Cuba

Colombia

74

Bilingual

Source: Pew Research Center, 2015 survey

Bolivia

Argentina

76

2009

Nicaragua

94 86

English dominant

26%

4,851,000

El Salvador

Honduras

Internet usage of Latino adults by language dominance (% saying they use the internet) 87

Puerto Rico (US)

Chile

2015

14%

32%

Source: Pew Research Center, 2014 American Community Survey

Costa Rica

200

Internet usage increases

4%

Population of Spanish-speaking countries in the Americas

It is increasingly necessary to serve diverse Hispanic generations.

There is among Hispanic leadership a greater awareness of the importance of proper theological training.

Nearly 60% of Hispanics in the US are Millenials or younger

43,132,000 43,218,000 56,822,577 121,006,000

Source: Wikipedia, accessed September 2016. www.countrymeters.info/es/United_States_of_America_(USA)

Created by: Edgar Florez

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All these changes challenge us to rethink our vision and mission and the sort of Hispanic theological education that will be needed in the future. But above all, we are called to rely on the power and guidance of the Spirit who continues to call us to: Promote the expansion of Hispanic theological education and make it more relevant to the reality around and faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Foster and certify excellence in the teaching and management of Bible institutes. Involve every pastor and church leader in continuing education processes through local, regional and virtual networks of study, reflection and communion. Establish partnerships with people and organizations interested in increasing the quantity and quality of the Hispanic church leaders, but also interested in promoting processes that connect all levels of theological formation, creating communities of practice and reflection. Produce resources for study and reflection, both in print and in digital format, of high biblical and theological quality and pastoral relevance. Convene individuals, churches and organizations to a public dialogue on matters relevant to the Hispanic church and its role in social issues. Connect with Hispanic community and church research centers in seminaries and universities. Serve the entire Hispanic church, inside and outside the United States, with all its diversity. Twenty-five years later, we believe that the vision of the founders of AETH remains relevant, even though the tasks have increased and the challenges we face have changed. Therefore, we feel the call to double our efforts and to promote theological education in the twenty-first century with ever increasing enthusiasm. This commits us to remain open to the leading of the Spirit, who continues pouring on us and calling us to renew our commitment with that vision and mission while we renew them for the future. All of this, not only for the health of the Hispanic church and community, but also, for the health of the entire society throughout the world and for the glory of God. 14

Hispanic Population Density • Geographic Distribution of Hispanic Protestant Churches and Ministries • AETH’s Active Memberships !! ! ! ! ! ! !! ! ! !!! ! ! ! ! ! !! !! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !!! !! !! !! ! !

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Active Members of AETH (by Zip Code) Hispanic Protestant Churches & Ministries Percent Hispanic Population <5% 5% - 16.2% 16.3% - 24.9% 25% - 50% >50% Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2010 and AETH Database

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Puerto Rico ! !!

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Created by: Andres Florez

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Presidents of AETH Dr. Justo L. González, 1992-1994, 1997-1998 Dr. Roberto Amparo Rivera, 1994-1997 Dr. Eldin Villafañe, 1998-2002 Dr. Esther Díaz-Bolet, 2002-2004 Dr. Virginia Loubriel-Chévere, 2004-2006 Dr. David Maldonado, Jr., 2006-2008 Dr. Ismael García, 2008-2010 Dr. Juan F. Martínez, 2010-2012 Prof. Martha Polo Koehler, 2012-2015, 2015-2018

Association for Hispanic Theological Education www.aeth.org

Our Mission: To promote pertinent and excellent theological formation of Hispanic leaders in their service to the Church and the world. Our Vision: Capable leaders in all congregations and ministries of the Hispanic church for the service of the whole church and society for the glory of God. AETH is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Profile for AETH

Aeth 25 years after its creation  

A historical outline of the origins and development of AETH and its vision of the future. 1991-2016

Aeth 25 years after its creation  

A historical outline of the origins and development of AETH and its vision of the future. 1991-2016

Profile for aeth