Prompted by the growing presence of Hispanics in the United States and North Carolina, Duke divinity students have launched a new organization to promote Hispanic voices in the divinity school community.
Students Advocating Latino/a Theologies (SALT) formed after a class on Latin American theology taught last spring by Teresa M. Berger, associate professor of ecumenical theology. Will Faircloth, a second-year MTS student and co-coordinator of SALT, said he and M.Div. students Jose Villasenor, Sara Smith and Clarissa Fuentes decided they wanted to do more than just read about Hispanic theology.
The Raleigh-Durham area has experienced one of the largest percentage increases in Hispanic population in the nation, with an overall increase of more than 1,000 percent from 1980 to 2000. Statewide, the Hispanic population grew almost 400 percent between 1990 and 2000.
Representing virtually all denominations, Hispanic churches and outreach programs in the Triangle and throughout the state typically operate in isolation from the area’s dominant culture.
“We want SALT to promote an awareness of these existing Hispanic ministries and then to support them with the intellectual and spiritual resources of the divinity school,” said Faircloth.
This spring, SALT is planning to sponsor a series of brown bag lunches featuring pastors from Hispanic churches from throughout the region. They are also discussing the possibility of hosting a community workshop on Hispanic ministries for area pastors.
Last year, the school joined the Hispanic Summer Program, an annual seminar on Hispanic theology sponsored by a consortium of about 40 theological schools nationwide. In October, the school also hosted a national summit on Hispanic pastoral leadership, sponsored by Pulpit & Pew, a divinity school research project. For more information on SALT, contact Faircloth at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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