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Special classes for Hispanics featured at Lipscomb lectures

NASHVILLE, TENN. — The Summer Celebration — the name since 2003 for the lectures Lipscomb has sponsored every summer since 1948 — offered a track of classes in Spanish for the first time. Based on the Gospel of Matthew, the Hispanic series featured speakers from regional Spanish-speaking congregations, including Huntsville, Ala., and Clarksville, Shelbyville, McMinnville and Chattanooga in Tennessee.
Some 100 Hispanics attended the event, said Roberto Santiago, minister of the Grandview church in Nashville and the Spanish-language coordinator for Summer Celebration. Santiago hoped Lipscomb’s decision to offer classes in Spanish would deepen the biblical knowledge of local leaders, provide Spanish-speaking Christians a greater sense of community and give Hispanic believers a glimpse at opportunities for Christian education for their children.
Area Latino leaders “come from different backgrounds, many with … an excellent education in college,” others with a “very basic knowledge of the Scriptures,” Santiago said. “This is an opportunity for everybody to grow, to learn from each other.”
The Spanish offerings also served “to promote a sense of unity, purpose,” Santiago said.
Offering classes in Spanish grew out of brainstorming about potential areas of emphasis this year, said Walt Leaver, Lipscomb’s vice president for university relations. Organizers realized that Rodriguez, a bilingual Mexican-American, would be an ideal person for expanding outreach to Hispanics, Leaver said.
Including a program for Hispanics was “a natural outgrowth of the fact that … the world is really coming to us,” Leaver explained. “We provide programs for people who speak English, but we also have a growing number of dedicated Christians who primarily speak Spanish,” he said. “Summer Celebration ideally would want to serve every element of the community.”
For the past two years, Leaver said, organizers had provided simultaneous Spanish translations of the keynote addresses. But this year, with more and more Hispanic ministers in the area, they were able not only to translate the main addresses but also offer classes in Spanish.
Benjamin Colunga, Hispanic minister at the Mayfair church in Huntsville, saw the event as a trial to see what area Latinos could expect from Lipscomb.
While Hispanic congregations periodically gather with each other for fellowship and worship, members have not had the chance to spend several days together in one place to share a variety of activities, he said. “I don’t have words to describe this whole great event,” he explained in Spanish. “It’s a fiesta — it’s a big fiesta,” he said. “I feel that the spirit of God is moving,” he added. “This is the start of something big.”

Filed under: National Staff Reports

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