By Stan Friedman
MINNEAPOLIS, MN (March 6, 2014) — A new partnership between Centro Hispano de Estudios Teologicos (CHET) in Compton, California, and the Northwest Conference could prove to be a model for expanding leadership training for Hispanics in the denomination, say leaders. In January the CHET Northwest Conference Pre-Ministerial program graduated its first class of students.
Twenty-two students graduated with certificates from the school’s pre-ministerial program on January 10 and are now eligible to enroll in the ministerial program, says Ed Delgado, president of CHET. Manuel Valencia, CHET’s dean and faculty leader, attended the ceremony.
The partnership began with two years of discussions between Delgado and Mike Brown, director of church planting for the Northwest Conference, while they served together on the Board of Ordered Ministry. They then invited area Covenant Latino leaders to a meeting at the conference offices.
More than 30 people crammed into a room to express their desire to help make the partnership happen. A steering committee was subsequently formed.
The first class of 40 students enrolled in 2011. “We have wanted to make sure we are doing this right,” Brown says. “We haven’t really rolled it out yet.” Leaders intend to expand the program.
The students study the same curriculum as is used at the main CHET campus in Compton, Delgado says. Classes are held on the campus of Minnehaha Academy.
A great need exists for the school, Brown says. “The Minneapolis–St. Paul area is one of the fastest growing areas of Latinos in the U.S., and most of the Spanish-speaking people here are first generation.”
“We want well-trained pastors, and CHET helps us prepare leadership for our context,” Brown says. “We want that to be one of our conference priorities.”
The conference has helped pay most of the expenses, but those funds had not been budgeted. The school will come under the budget this year.
Critical to meeting the need will be finding additional teachers and funding. All of the leadership, including instruction, has been donated, Delgado says. The school will be able to take additional students when more instructors are available.
Delgado is enthusiastic about the support from the Northwest Conference and Latino pastors in the area. “The conference really believes in it, and this couldn’t have been done without their dedication,” he says.