The Evangelical Education Society (EES) has awarded the Rev. Al Rodriguez, interim director of the seminary’s Hispanic Church Studies program, a grant for Latino evangelism. Rodriguez will develop training products to help congregations and dioceses reach second, third and fourth generation, U.S.-born Latinos.
The project, titled American Latino Evangelism Outreach (ALEO), “is motivated by the astounding fact that we are overlooking 65% of these Latinos who are native-born, predominantly bilingual or English-dominant, and for the most part, not even aware of the Episcopal Church,” wrote Rodriguez in his project proposal.
Rodriguez is a third-generation, bilingual and bicultural Mexican American with 30 years experience interacting with immigrant Latinos of many nationalities in a variety of Episcopal Latino missions, including a dual language congregation in Austin where he was rector for 15 years.
“Our Episcopal Latino ministry can no longer continue to function solely on a Spanish-only model that does not reflect the acculturation realities and demographics of today’s Latino world,” says Rodriguez. Al points out that most Episcopal dioceses are focused on reaching the immigrant and first generation Latinos, that while needed, “clouds the evangelistic potential of the more acculturated Latino multi-generations.” His grant funding extends from May 1, 2016 to April 2017.
The Evangelical Education Society makes their grants available to members of seminary communities “for projects of innovative evangelism.” Two other Southwest faculty have received EES grants in the past five years: Dr. Anthony Baker for his project The Theology Studio and Dr. Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski, then on the faculty at Church Divinity School of the Pacific, for Church Planting in Poland,
Since 2007, seventeen Seminary of the Southwest student projects have been funded by EES, including Andrew Lobban’s project, Spiritual Disciplines for the Homeless, which was recognized with the Director’s Award for work which most closely exemplifies the objectives of the Evangelism for the Twenty-first Century grants program.