LOS ANGELES, CA (January 20, 2011) – The staff at Centro Hispano de Estudios Teologicos (CHET) were excited when the school’s first graduation ceremonies at its new facilities in the Compton neighborhood were held.
Graduate Jose Nery Rivas was even more emotional. Graduates normally return their caps and gowns to the school, but Rivas, who is part of the Ministerial Program, asked that he be able to keep his. Nery explained that he had to flee his native El Salvador 12 days prior to his high school graduation. After he arrived in the United States, he immediately went to work and had been unable to earn his GED certificate.
The diploma he received was his first. Because Rivas had waited so many years to earn it, he wanted to keep the cap and gown as another remembrance of the special evening, said Ed Delgado, the school’s president. The accompanying photo shows Delgado (left) and Rivas.
Nery’s situation is not unlike other graduates of the Hispanic ministerial training school, Delgado added. A total of 54 students graduated Friday – nine completed the Lay Family Counseling Program and six finished the Ministerial Program. Others completed the Pre-Ministerial Program.
The school provides educational opportunities to an underserved population who might not be able to afford or be accepted into other institutions of higher learning. CHET differs from most other Hispanic Bible schools because more than 50 percent of its students are women, Delgado said.
“As a Covenant ministry, we have tried to attract and encourage women to prepare for ministry in their churches and communities,” Delgado said. “The challenges facing them are greater because of cultural attitudes that are not as accepting of women in ministry.”
Delgado added, “Even if their churches support them, when an economic crisis or childcare needs arise, the female students generally must struggle more to continue their training. Given that Latino churches are often predominantly female in demographic, the training of women is key for the proclamation of the Good News in word and deed within their communities.”
Due to demographics, courses in lay counseling and crisis management are particularly helpful for female students, Delgado said. Ministry workshops and Advocacy for Victims of Abuse training also are offered at CHET.
Pacific Southwest Conference Women Ministry Scholarships were awarded to Flor Hernandez, Flor Graterol, Magdalena Zamudio, Lupita Mosqueda, Martha Lizarraga, Isabel Reyes, Sofia Novoa, Ziomara Pineda and Adriana Portillo.
The scholarships assist women with unemployed spouses and single women for the next academic year by way of providing needed financial assistance and childcare services so that the biggest obstacles to continuing their training are removed.
The Eldon and Opal Johnson Scholarship was awarded to Eloy Castro. He pastors a church plant in Riverside, California. The Johnsons served 23 years in Bolivia before returning to Los Angeles, where they were instrumental in developing Spanish-speaking Covenant ministries.
Nearly 70 percent of Hispanic pastors serving in the Covenant have completed at least a portion of their studies at CHET. Additionally, hundreds of lay people have been equipped through the Basic Program for Church Leadership.
Esteban Sanchez, pastor of Taller del Alfarero Centro Cristiano, an Evangelical Covenant Church in Gardena, California, delivered a message based on John 1:37-39. CHET is an educational ministry of the Evangelical Covenant Church and is accountable to and supported by the denomination through North Park University.