The short and medium term future of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington is necessarily anchored to the Strategic Plan that our diocesan leadership bodies approved last fall. As we develop the three main areas of the plan — revitalizing the life of our congregations, fostering the spiritual formation of all parishioners (children, youth, adults, the elderly) and promoting justice and equity everywhere — the opportunity is ripe for our Latino congregations to continue witnessing God’s work in our midst.
How is the Strategic Plan already a reality in the Latino ministries of our Diocese and how can it be an instrument for our congregations to rethink their mission and ministries?
Revitalization of Congregations: The Diocesan Strategic Plan allows us to give increased priority to the revitalization of our Latino congregations. Already our Latino congregations are showing signs of health according to our recently adopted Vital Signs of Parish Health. For instance, San Mateo/St. Matthew is among the congregations in our diocese with the highest annual rate of confirmations and receptions. The number of sacramental commitments made each year in a congregation is one of the key metrics that can help church leaders discern the reality of their present circumstance and adjust their mission and ministry as necessary for different outcomes in the future. Each of the metrics can be used this way to better focus time and effort within a parish to the areas most in need of attention.
Spiritual formation: It became abundantly clear at the strategic plan listening sessions last year that the people of our diocese value spiritual formation. And while various formative opportunities have been offered in the diocese through the years, with topics ranging from liturgy and Anglican identity to race and cultural diversity, we lacked a coherent strategy for formation–and one that would address the specific needs of Latino congregations to better prepare them to carry out their mission. In response, one of our initial goals in the Strategic Plan was to develop a diocesan School for Christian Faith and Leadership. In September, we launched the School’s first offerings — and though the School is in its first steps, one of its priorities is to ensure that individuals and Latino congregations in our diocese become more deeply involved in its programming and can easily access training opportunities in culturally competent Spanish language formation.
Justice and equity: The issues of justice and equity are vital to Latino ministries as our parishioners and communities suffer daily from insecurity, discrimination, and difficulties in accessing basic services in this country. These hardships have grown during the pandemic and have become more obvious to the wider community. In the midst of struggle, there is an opportunity to acknowledge racism among Latinos and engage racial justice and equity beyond the Latino community. Education, training and actions to promote justice on specific issues will be vital in the expansion of the Latino prophetic voice in our midst.
The future is wide and God is constantly opening doors for our diocesan Latino ministry. May God continue to provide opportunities for growth and witness for all.
The Rev. Yoimel González Hernández, Dean of the Latino Deacons School
Mildred Reyes, Missioner for Diocesan Initiatives