The Eastern PA Conference Latino Commission has moved its lay theological education program online since the COVID-19 pandemic forced the end of in-person classes. Its popular classes resume this Saturday, Oct. 10, with a half-day session on Preaching II, taught by the Rev. Irving Cotto, commission co-chairman.
The commission organizes the classes, which are in Spanish, in collaboration with the Escuela Teológica Evangélica Latina (Latina Evangelical Theological School—ETEL). A class on Stewardship will follow in November.
The commission had been using the UMC National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry’s (NPHLM) Encuentro (Encounter) program for teaching laity. But it is not available on Zoom (although planners are working on an online video version). So the commission decided to continue offering training and enrichment to laity who wanted to continue learning and not wait for the pandemic to end, according to the Rev. Luky Cotto, Conference Coordinator of Latino Ministries. “The response has been great, and we have been having from 22 to 26 students each time.”
Clergy instructors come from various locations, including Eastern University, other conferences and churches. So do some students, including several from other conferences who asked to join the program. “The only thing they will get for taking these classes so far is a certificate from ETEL,” said Cotto, who is seeking formal credits and a grant from the UMC’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry.
The classes are open to anyone who is interested and understands Spanish, although translation may also be available, Cotto said. “I am excited because people are interested in learning more, and they pay $20 per class.”
The Latino Commission also hopes to have its annual Christmas celebration in December and a leadership training event in February 2021, followed by its annual Holy Convocation and annual assembly in the spring—preferably onsite but online if necessary.
PHOTOS: The Rev. Irving Cotto teaches an Encuentro (Encounter) Hispanic/Latino lay ministry training class, along with the Rev. Luky Cotto, in February. John Coleman photos