History (Click Here to view this page in Spanish)
In the Beginning:
In June, 2006, Gerald Kieschnick, LCMS President, appointed a Blue Ribbon Task Force to determine the best methodologies to use aggressively in mission with Hispanics. The report noted that at that time there were approximately 44.7 million Hispanics in the United States, roughly 15% of the US population.
The task force also observed that the LCMS had 73 Hispanic congregations and 70 mission congregations working alongside Anglo churches. The LCMS was serving 10,000 Spanish speaking people, less than 1% of LCMS total membership and less than .023% of the Hispanic population.
As with the German immigrants of earlier times, we need to reach out to these new immigrants in their language of origin. What an opportunity to share the salvation we have in Jesus Christ! Yet as always, the harvest is ripe but the laborers are few - and the resources are limited. The Lutheran Hispanic Missionary Institute commits to help multiply Lutheran word and sacrament ministries among Hispanics by training Spanish-speaking church leaders and facilitating their placement.
A number of Partners came together to form the LHMI. They continue to support the ongoing Vision:
- LCMS WORLD MISSION: For the first three years, the salary and benefits of the Director were being fully underwritten by LCMS World Mission. The work of the LHMI was integral to the goals of Ablaze and the desire of the Mission Board to reach out to Hispanics.
- RMD: On June 20, 2003, the Rocky Mountain District of the LCMS passed a resolution in convention, put forth in cooperation with the Rio Grande circuit, to establish the Institute. RMD provided start-up expenses, the initial contribution to the LHMI Endowment Fund, and provides a monthly subsidy for Institute operations.
- YLM: The Ysleta Lutheran Mission provided building 7 for use by the Institute. They were also instrumental in coordinating various church teams that came in to work on the building, providing a complete renovation of the interior and a new roof. In addition, the YLM has been a source of students and ongoing encouragement. YLM also staffs the cafeteria that students use, and provides full-time single students with housing.
- CHS: The Center for Hispanic Studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis assisted with the Curriculum Development. CHS continues in a cooperative way to conform Institute classes with their first level Seminary classes. LHMI graduates can enroll straight into the second level at CHS and continue their studies to obtain "rostered" status in the LCMS
President Kieschnick challenged the task force to be bold and forward-thinking in posing recommendations to address the need to be purposeful and intentional in the commitment of the LCMS to Hispanic ministry. One key conclusion was that Hispanics needed access to biblical, doctrinal, and practical ministry education.
Located on the campus of the Ysleta Lutheran Mission in El Paso, TX, the Lutheran Hispanic Missionary Institute was formed in 2007 and began classes in January, 2008.
The core values are:
- PRE-SEMINARY EDUCATION: Educate workers in doctrine and mission through an “augmented” curriculum of pre-seminary and seminary courses.
- FORMATION: Equip workers to lead and serve on teams to start and grow Word & Sacrament ministries.
- SERVICE: Lovingly and creatively use all the gifts, talents and tools God has made available to us as His people to carry out His mission.
- INNOVATION: Explore new paradigms for church worker training, balancing new ideas with the need to harmonize efforts with the whole LCMS.
- PARTNERSHIP: Maintain active and productive relationships with congregations of the LCMS and work collaboratively to fill the need for workers in Hispanic ministry.
- MISSION PLANTING: Passionately plant missions among Hispanics with a commitment to nurture the growth of biblically faithful, confessionally Lutheran congregants.
Where we're going:
In addition to the residency and commuter programs established from the beginning, LHMI has now added a distance learning program. All classes are available over the internet, online in real time. Through special web conferencing software, students are actually able to "sit in" with the class, interact with other students and the professor, from virtually anywhere in the world. It also expands the number of professors able to teach for the institute because they don't have to leave their home or office and travel to El Paso, Texas to do so. And God continues to lead forward in unexpected ways.