Saturday, June 27, 2009

More help needed to train new Hispanic pastors

Help Needed to Support Training of Hispanic Pastors

BELL GARDENS, CA (June 23, 2009) – While the number of Hispanic congregations in the Evangelical Covenant Church has been steadily growing, the institution responsible for training pastors to lead these congregations faces increasing financial challenges in its effort to keep pace with the demand.

The president of CHET (Centro Hispano de Estudios Teologicos), the Evangelical Covenant Church training center for Hispanic ministers, says more donations are needed if the school is to continue giving a much-needed level of scholarships. He has issued an appeal for help from concerned Covenanters and others.

Without the scholarships, the average yearly tuition of $660 would be prohibitive for many of the students, notes Ed Delgado. “Many of the students already make wages that are well below average and they have been hit additionally hard during the recession,” he adds.

Nearly 550 students currently are enrolled in full- and part-time programs. The school offers several educational tracks. Click here to see additional photos.

StudentsSince the school was formed in 1989, graduates have served as pastors, church planters, missionaries, lay counselors and trained laity in Covenant and other evangelical churches throughout the United States and Latin America. CHET works in partnership with North Park University and operates several extension sites in the United States as well as Mexico and Spain.

CHET subsidizes $440 of the tuition through scholarships, with students owing the balance. Students have made tremendous sacrifices to pay tuition; however, over the last nine years, difficult economic circumstances have made it impossible for some students to pay their $220 share, resulting in an unpaid tuition deficit that now stands at $97,342. Delgado fears a widening global recession could push the total deficit past the $126,000 mark by the end of the current fiscal year.

As a result, the school, which already operates on a lean budget of $365,000 can no longer continue to fund the scholarships at close to the current levels, Delgado says.

Delgado is asking individuals and churches to assist at least 50 percent of the students – “the best and the most needy” – by sponsoring one or more students for the full $660-a-year tuition cost. A local church could decide to sponsor one student – or perhaps several, Delgado suggests. Individuals could also decide to sponsor a student – or go together with several others to support a student, he notes.

At the very least, he hopes that generous and caring donors will consider providing one or more $40 scholarships and donating funds to help retire the $97,342 in unpaid tuition.

The money would help students such as Lupita Mosqueda and Mario Benedetti.

GroupMosqueda has completed 91 units with a Grade Point Average of 3.76. Originally from Mexico, she is a member of Amigos de La Gracia Covenant Church in Rialto, California.

Delgado says Mosqueda believed she was fortunate because she had a steady job that required her to deliver 500 newspapers each day, all before 5 a.m. in her personal car, even though it had mechanical problems. Then the bad news came - she lost her job when the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin of Ontario, California, reduced the number of its distribution centers.

Benedetti, originally from Venezuela, is a Ministerial Program student with a 3.89 GPA and serves as president of the CHET Student Council. He is a member of El Encino Covenant Church in Downey, California. The global economic downturn has left him without steady employment, however, for the last six months.

Delgado says Mosqueda’s and Benedetti’s stories “are way too common and way too representative of the CHET student body.”

To make an online CHET donation using a credit card or PayPal account, click here and select the “Give Now” button.

Those desiring to donate by check may do so by making the check payable to CHET and mailing it to Centro Hispano de Estudios Teológicos, 6113 Clara St., Bell Gardens, CA, 90201.

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