National convention

Hispanic National Convention celebrates new anthem, discusses recruiting

Reverend Germán Novelli-Oliveros, president of the Hispanic Missionary League and pastor of Grace Lutheran Church, Milwaukee, holds a copy of Himnario Luterano, the new Spanish anthem, on August 2 at the Hispanic National Convention in Orlando. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

By Cheryl Magness

The seventh LCMS Hispanic National Convention (HNC) was held in Orlando from August 2-5 under the theme, “For We Are All One in Christ Jesus.” The event, organized by the Hispanic Missionary League (HML), aims to bring together LCMS Latino congregations, institutions, missions and ministries for the promotion, strengthening and support of the Hispanic Lutheran community.

Welcoming attendees to the 2022 convention, Rev. Robert Zagore, Executive Director of the LCMS Office of National Mission, said, “We are the people of God. We are the people of the Gospel. God has sent you on a heroic mission. The whole world must be saved. …

“We need all the help we can get. The Holy Spirit has given us this help. … We thank God that you are here and … engaged in this mission.

Zagore wields a copy of Himnario Luterano, released in 2021 after a 14-year process. The anthem, recently launched in the LCMS Latin America and Caribbean (LAC) region, was a joint project of the LAC region, the Southern Cone (Chile, Argentina and Paraguay), the Confessional Lutheran Education Foundation and the Lutheran Heritage Foundation . The convention was its debut in the United States.

“We are in every way united,” Zagore said. “We are one in Christ. … Part of that unity is being able to pray together. … Which is why I’m so excited to have this anthem in our hands. … We want everyone to be able to have one.

All convention attendees received a free copy of the anthem, with additional copies offered for $10 each. (The normal cost of $32 was subsidized for convention attendees.)

Reverend Germán Novelli-Oliveros gives the blessing after August 2 worship during the Seventh Hispanic National Convention. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

An “extraordinary resource”

The outgoing president of the HNC, the Reverend Germán Novelli-Oliveros, said: “The Himnario Luterano is already a blessing to churches in Latin America and will surely be a tremendous resource for Hispanic congregations in the United States. This will strengthen our worship lives in our congregations and homes and support our pastors in preparing for and planning their divine services.

“We thank the Lutheran Heritage Foundation and [LCMS] The President, Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, for providing a copy to every convention attendee, and we will work together to bring this resource to our Latino congregations and ministries nationwide.

On the evening of August 2, the convention hosted three guest speakers: Rev. Dr. Leopoldo A. Sánchez M., professor of systematic theology and director of the Center for Hispanic Studies at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis (CSL); Reverend Michael Newman, LCMS Texas district president; and Reverend Micah Glenn, Director of Recruitment at CSL.

Sánchez addressed the catholicity of the church. “Catholicity is not an addition to the church,” he said. “It is part of the very being of the church. … The whole story of salvation is oriented towards catholicity. God…saved Israel from among the nations that the nations might be saved through Israel. [This is] catholicity”.

Newman led the congregation through a study of Psalm 98. “Sing to the Lord a new song. … The people of God have been given a narrative that transcends the narrative of the world,” he said. “We must think theologically, submit to the Word of God. … The starting point [for] unity is being together, receiving the gifts under our Lord, functioning as the church. …

“That doesn’t mean 60 minutes of a quick sermon and a content upload on Sunday [but] the reciprocity of all God’s people who bear each other’s burdens…speak in each other’s lives…forgive each other, pray for each other.

Glenn shared an update on recruitment efforts at CSL, particularly as it relates to recruiting minority students. In 2021, the seminary’s Vocatio event for high school students considering church work had 19 attendees. In 2022, that number increased to 31. In 2023, Glenn said he hopes to see it increase to 70.

Calling a young Hispanic man who had attended Vocatio 2022 and plans to return in 2023, Glenn asked, “Did you feel like you belonged [on the seminary campus], José… that the seminary belongs to you like everyone else? José said yes, and Glenn said, “That’s the goal.

Attendees at the Seventh National Hispanic Convention in Orlando hold copies of Himnario Luterano, the new Spanish anthem, while enjoying the camaraderie during the convention. (LCMS/Erik M. Lunsford)

In other matters, the HNC approved new regulations to strengthen its national work and approved the start of the process to become an LCMS Recognized Service Organization. He also elected a new board of directors who will be in charge of organizing the 2025 convention: Rev. Juan Zamora, president; the Reverend Stephen Heimer, Vice President; Deaconess Erica Dona-Jofre, secretary; and Deaconess Perla Rodriguez and Reverend Rodrigo Fernandez, members at large.

Asked what he wanted to emphasize about this convention, Novelli-Oliveros said it was a bilingual event: “We wanted to include our brothers and sisters who, although they don’t speak Spanish, wanted to hang out with us and learn more about Hispanic. ministry. We had a special program, in English, for them.

Novelli-Oliveros said recruitment to the seminary remains a priority.

“We need and want more Hispanic men and women who are preparing to serve in the church full-time. … We have an initiative called Primer Paso (“First Step”) that promotes this effort among our LCMS Hispanic congregations.

Novelli-Oliveros said the convention was a picture of both the diversity of the church and its unity, which come “by the grace and power of baptism. In a culture that wants us to be divided and scattered, we have tried to emphasize the importance of embracing our Christian unity in the Lord and walking together.

Posted on August 24, 2022

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