I had learned about the workshop from LSTC’s weekly “Community Life Update” email. Having spent part of my seminary career in Mexico studying language and mostly Roman Catholic theology and practice, I was eager to see how Lutheran congregations in Chicago were opening their doors to the Latino community.
Nearly two dozen of us gathered at Resurrection Lutheran Church in Franklin Park, a western suburb about 45 minutes from LSTC. Most were pastors; I was the only seminarian. Many had come because they had seen the neighborhoods around their congregations changing, and they were looking for ways to better serve their communities.
Our leaders were two Latino pastors who were each leading thriving Spanish-speaking Lutheran congregations in different Chicago neighborhoods and suburbs, and one Anglo pastor who had recently presided over the merger of two congregations, one Latino and one Anglo. They spoke about their experiences and gave advice for best practices; we asked lots and lots of questions.
In the midst of the lively conversation, I found myself marveling at the new thing God was doing in our midst. Not growing the Lutheran church, not assimilating immigrants into US culture, no. Rather, in the meeting of different traditions, histories, languages, peoples, God’s Spirit was revealing itself in new and wondrous ways, showing itself in ways none of us – individual or community – could have imagined if we had remained alone. Isaiah 43:19, indeed.
(above: A mosaic inside the El station in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood.)