The mission of the Hispanic House of Studies is to assist the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences and Duke Divinity School in supporting and strengthening ministries to and with Hispanics and Latinos in North Carolina.

To embrace the fastest growing population in North Carolina, the North Carolina and Western North Carolina Conferences of the United Methodist Church need trained, able persons to minister in Hispanic/Latino programs. Thus the Divinity School has joined The Duke Endowment and these conferences in the formation of leaders for Hispanic/Latino ministry. The Hispanic House of Studies serves as a resource center for these ministries.

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The Mestizo Church

According to the seer of Patmos, the church is a mestizo assembly gathered from every nation in praise of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Spanish word mestizo comes from the Latin misceo and refers literally to a mixture. The term was first used to describe the children of the violent encounter between European fathers and Amerindian mothers. Neither European nor Indian, these children belonged to a new people, a people of mixed heritage. But this mixed heritage is not simply a historical or ethnic marker; it is also the goal of Christian existence. In the words of Mexican-American theologian Virgil Elizondo, “the future is mestizo,” not because of ethnic mixing but because the new humanity in Christ is a mestizo humanity of Jews and Gentiles.

In North Carolina, some thriving Methodist congregations have intentionally included Hispanics and Latinos into their common life. In this way they have claimed and made manifest God’s promised future. The Duke Endowment recognizes the profound impact these congregations and their pastors have within communities facing the challenges and opportunities of our increasingly growing Hispanic/Latino population. Through their support of the Hispanic House of Studies, The Duke Endowment contributes to the vitality and viability of these ministries.

To reach Hispanics and Latinos in the 21st century, the church needs leaders who have eyes to see that all ethnic ministries are provisional because the future is mestizo. For Methodists, this future needs to be anticipated and looked for in an intentionally Wesleyan way.

Hispanic House News

Read the latest news about what's happening at the Hispanic House.

More Hispanic House Programs


Encuentro is a summer program available to Methodist students, faculty, staff, pastors, and laity. It seeks to broaden relationships between Duke Divinity School and the Methodist Church in Mexico.

The program includes stops along the U.S.-Mexico border, from Tijuana, Mexico to Nogales, Ariz.  Participants have conversations with experts on immigration and visit ministries on both sides of the border that work with immigrants. Participants worship and share stories and meals with Mexican hosts.

Encuentro is sponsored by the Hispanic House of Studies and the Thriving Rural Churches Initiative.

Field Education

Field Education in Hispanic/Latino Ministry provides an opportunity for students to discern their vocational identity through contextual learning. The placements vary from parish to nonprofit. They can also include Spanish-speaking settings in North Carolina.

The Divinity School’s summer internships in international field education place theological education and pastoral training in the context of an increasingly interconnected global community. The school has established summer field education placements in Spanish-speaking countries. These take place in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Mexico, and they are available for students at a variety of levels of Spanish-language ability. Learn more about field education.

Course of Study in El Salvador

The Course of Study in El Salvador is intended to establish a more regular theological education for the Methodist Church in Central America. The three-year Spanish-language program is designed to prepare men and women who wish to study Wesleyan theology but are unable to attend a seminary. The course offers students the opportunity to explore theological study in a general way or through theological reflection on a specific theme for the purpose of enriching their Christian service as lay ministers and pastors in their own Methodist Churches in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and El Salvador.

The program is also suitable for anyone seeking advanced training in Christian education or ordination into the Christian ministry. This is an intensive program and certain classes are required. Twice each year a group of teachers travels to El Salvador for one week in the winter and the spring. Teachers and students have enriched testimonies from this unique experience.

This program is possible thanks to the coordinated work of the Hispanic House of Studies, the Methodist Church in El Salvador, The General Board of Higher Education of the United Methodist Church, and The General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.

Faculty & Staff

Edgardo Colón-Emeric is Irene and William McCutchen Associate Professor of Reconciliation and Theology, senior strategist of the Hispanic House of Studies, and director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. His work explores the intersection of Methodist and Catholic theologies, and Wesleyan and Latin-American experiences. His teaching covers a broad range of theological areas: systematics, Wesleyan theology, ecumenism, and Latin American theology. His research brings theologians like Thomas Aquinas and Hans Urs von Balthasar into conversation with voices from the theological periphery like Bartolomé de las Casas and Óscar Romero guided by the conviction that Christian theology sounds best when it is symphonic. Colón-Emeric is the author of Wesley, Aquinas, and Christian Perfection: An Ecumenical Dialogue (Baylor University Press, 2009) which received the 2008 “Aquinas Dissertation Prize Winner” from the Aquinas Center for Theological Renewal at Ave Maria University and Oscar Romero’s Theological Vision: Liberation and the Transfiguration of the Poor (Notre Dame University Press, 2018). Colón-Emeric is an ordained elder in the North Carolina Annual Conference. He directs the Central American Methodist Course of Study and the Peru Theological Initiative. He serves in the United Methodist Committee on Faith and Order and on both national and international Methodist-Catholic dialogues.

Ismael A. Ruiz-Millán is originally from Sonora, Mexico. He is an ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, and his first pastorate was in 2004 at Unidos por Cristo in Grimesland, N.C. In 2010, he was appointed to serve the Brookland-Brooksdale United Methodist Churches in Roxboro, N.C. Since 2011, he has served as the director of the Hispanic House of Studies at Duke Divinity School. In this role, he has developed and taught courses on pastoral care to pastors and laypersons from Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala. He also directs different programs within Duke Divinity School that target students and non-Hispanic clergy and laity who are passionate and want to serve the Hispanic and Latino (H/L) population in the U.S.  He has developed seminars, workshops, and learning opportunities for current H/L pastors serving the United Methodist Church in North Carolina. Ruiz-Millán has been actively involved in increasing awareness among clergy and laity around the needs of farm workers and immigrants in North Carolina, and he regularly visits the Mexico-U.S. border.

Staff Assistant
Idia Piacentini was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and moved with her husband to the United States in 2003. In August 2008, she joined the Duke Divinity School as staff assistant. Idia holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Puerto Rico. She worships and serves in various ministries at Aldersgate UMC in Durham.