Elizabeth Cortez is pursuing an M.A. in marriage and family therapy, as are Monica Heredia and Cindy Hernandez. Hector Hernandez is studying for a master of divinity, Cindy Mendez for an M.A. in urban missions and Ivan Paz for an M.A. in theology.
"With a growing Latino population in the seminary as well as in the San Joaquin Valley, the seminary considers it essential to offer this opportunity for students to study in a Latino setting with Hispanic peers and professors," said Lynn Jost, Ph.D., vice president of Fresno Pacific University and dean of the seminary. "I am pleased that we have such a strong cohort of students in our first year in this program, which includes many of the most prominent seminaries across the nation."
Cindy Mendez is excited at the opportunity. "Being a seminary in the Valley makes our participation in HSP that much more important. The Latino church is growing and as future pastors, ministers and counselors it is important to fully understand our Latino perspective of the Bible," she said.
Being part of HSP reflects the seminary's vision for Fresno and the church, Paz said. "The partnership between Fresno Pacific and the Hispanic Summer Program is definitely a strategic move toward the development of a new generation of leaders in Fresno, and beyond, which will bridge cultural gaps and a variety of barriers," he said.
The Hispanic Summer Program is a non-profit educational service operated by a group of more than 50 seminaries, universities and theology departments. These sponsors represent Roman Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical and Pentecostal institutions in the U.S., Puerto Rico and Canada.
The mission of the Hispanic Summer Program is to "supplement and enrich the theological and ministerial education being offered in seminaries and universities, with academic courses and other activities directly addressing Hispanic history, ministry and theology. As an ecumenical program it seeks to heal the divisions in the Latina/o community fueled by denominational and theological differences. As a Hispanic program, the HSP tries to find ways to restore connections and build bridges between Hispanics and non-Hispanics," according to the HSP website at hispanicsummerprogram.org/
Since HSP began in 1989, more than 1,000 Hispanic graduate students, and more than 100 non-Latinas and Latinos, have taken about 150 courses from approximately 100 different Hispanic faculty.