The Latino community of the ELCA in all its rich diversity is united. We are a community that confesses its origin and identity in the creative, redemptive and sanctifying work of God. The great diversity that characterizes us is a process of continual biological and cultural “mestizaje,” and our unity is in Jesus Christ, who gathers us around word and water, wine and bread. We are grounded in God’s love and forgiveness, equipped to live and serve here and now, in the world, with all its diversity, complexities, tensions and ambiguities.
Latino Ministries of the ELCA affirms that we are a part of the larger community of saints — Christ’s church. The Latino Christian community is an integral part of the church, which includes people of all nations and all languages. It’s not our job to sort, divide, categorize or exclude by racial prejudice, social class or gender differences. The Latino community is a fountain of rich cultural values, traditions and spirituality. These gifts reflect our historical experience of our faith and life, and enrich and add to the larger story of the ELCA, together with the contributions of other communities.
We have approximately 147 Latino ministries in the United States, from the state of Washington to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The people they serve often use Spanish as their primary language and were born in or trace their heritage to Mexico, Central and South America and the Caribbean. Our ministries are growing through the work of faithful, hard-working leaders throughout the church who create and facilitate programs and events to support our pastors and lay leaders. Their work, and that of our congregations and ministries, serves to share the good news of Jesus Christ, encourage our unity in Christ and promote Latino Christian values that unite the Latino community of the ELCA as a “community of communities.”
We are one body in Christ, called to live in one faith and one baptism. The church of Christ is composed of people from different cultures, traditions and languages, and as Latino Christians, we do not function separate from others or isolate ourselves from the rest of the body of Christ — the church.
Within such a diversity of cultures, we must fight and work for the unity of all members of the ELCA. This is why we gather as an association, with the Holy Spirit guiding our efforts of working together for the kingdom of God for the purpose of:
- Strengthening the sharing of the good news of Jesus Christ
- Promoting inclusivity without assimilation, and diversity without segregation
- Fighting racism in the church
The Latino Association (Asociación Ministerios Latinos E.L.C.A.) accomplishes these goals by increasing the Latino Lutheran community, helping the ELCA achieve a greater understanding of the cultural diversity of Latinos, promoting Latino Christian values, helping the church recruit and support pastors and lay leaders for Latino ministry, and more.
For further questions about the Latino Association, please contact its president, Rev. Martín López Vega.