Photo by Les Todd/Duke Photography
Worshippers process to flower the cross at the Holy Saturday service.

Located in a region of the country that, until recently, had few Hispanic residents, Duke Divinity School is not known for expertise in Hispanic ministry. But that could soon change. Building on strengths in racial reconciliation, international programs, and other areas, the school is launching or participating in initiatives that will help the church minister to the nation’s growing Hispanic and Latino community. A sampling:

  • This summer, Duke Divinity School will host the Hispanic Summer Program, a two-week ecumenical graduate program in theology and religion, taught by noted Hispanic and Latino scholars. Founded in 1988 with a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts, the program rotates each summer among the more than 30 sponsoring institutions and will be held at Duke for the first time.

  • The school’s Office of Field Education has established four placements in Hispanic ministry settings, including La Estrella Resplandeciente, Cristo Vive UMC and Reconciliation UMC, both in Durham, and the North Carolina Conference’s Office of Hispanic/Latino Ministry.

  • To help students better understand the overall immigrant experience, the school’s Thriving Rural Communities program, with support from The Duke Endowment, has launched a cultural and language immersion experience in which selected students spend 10 weeks in Guatemala and El Salvador, living with local families, learning Spanish, and working in area churches.

  • This fall, the school will start a Hispanic Studies Program that will serve as a focal point for scholarship and research in Hispanic/Latino religion and theology. In addition to providing classes for students in Duke Divinity School, the program will also take theological training and education into the community for Hispanic pastors, who often lack formal seminary training.

Dean L. Gregory Jones says the initiatives collectively represent a new and overdue commitment to respond to the growing Hispanic/Latino presence in the United States.

“We’ve wanted to contribute more in this area for several years, and many people throughout the school have invested much time and thought into determining the best way we can do that,” says Jones. “All these people and programs have converged in a way that gives us a key opportunity to provide significant new ministry in a changing world.”

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