|Costa Rica partnership to train Hispanic ministers|
A UMNS Report
By Vicki Brown*
June 26, 2007
A partnership with a university in Costa Rica to train Hispanic United Methodist pastors in the United States addresses a critical new building block in efforts to develop educated leaders for The United Methodist Church.
The Rev. Jerome King Del Pino
Under an agreement between Latin American Biblical University and the United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry, a pilot program will launch in August with an initial enrollment of about 15 students. The agreement was signed in May.
"The signing of this partnership is an affirmation of the global nature of theological education and training that is integral to a leadership development system which transcends regional and national boundaries," said the Rev. Jerome King Del Pino, the board's chief executive.
"The board seeks to foster new and unique opportunities for United Methodist Hispanic pastors to receive the highest quality of theological education in preparation for the challenges and opportunities they face in this 21st century."
The agreement will allow U.S. pastors to complete a bachelor of theology degree at a Spanish-speaking university by receiving credits through several avenues, including online courses, on-campus classes, College Level Examination Program tests and credit for previous academic work and course-of-study classes.
"The signing of this partnership is an affirmation of the global nature of theological education and training that is integral to a leadership development system which transcends regional and national boundaries."
-The Rev. Jerome King Del Pino
"The purpose of this partnership is to empower the candidates in fulfilling the basic requirements for membership in their annual conferences and to open new avenues for additional theological education at the master of divinity level," said the Rev. Saul Espino, the board’s director of retreats and specialized ministries support.
Latin American Biblical University will design a degree completion plan for each candidate, coordinate both distance and residency courses and monitor students' progress. The school will have final say in awarding of academic credits for course-of-study work, experiential learning, training modules, continuing education workshops or seminars.
The Board of Higher Education and Ministry will coordinate the program; provide scholarships for academic courses on campus, lodging and meals; monitor outcomes on an annual basis; and establish a timeline.
Professor Violeta Rocha, president of Latin American Biblical University in San Jose, said the university is pleased with the collaboration.
"The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry and the Latin American Biblical University have met the challenge by designing a university bachelor’s degree program in theological and biblical sciences, with theoretical quality and academic flexibility so the pastors continue their formation without leaving their pastoral work too much," said Rocha.
The program reflects the importance that both the board and the university give to the theological formation of pastors in ministry, she added.
Espino said the program is unique and will foster distance education across borders to take maximum advantage of the educational opportunities in both Costa Rica and the United States.
Del Pino added the agency places the highest importance on training a new generation of Spanish-speaking United Methodist pastors. "This agreement will take advantage of multiple educational modalities in order to accelerate the educational training of UM Hispanic/Latino/a pastors," he said.
To learn more or to apply, contact Saul Espino at email@example.com.
*Brown is an associate editor and writer in the Office of Interpretation, United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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