(ENS) In the lush surroundings of Cocoyoc, a 16th century sugar plantation-turned-hotel, a diverse group of bishops and church leaders from New York to California spent three days in February, immersed in Hispanic history and culture, discussing "Anglicanism and the Hispanic Experience." Bougainvillea-draped aqueducts feed pools in the ancient site just southwest of Mexico City where Mayan rulers once came to rest and play. "We chose this site specifically to impress our guests with the beauty and history of Latin America," said the Rt Revd Sergio Carranza-Gomez, Bishop of Mexico. "People were praying and writing books here more than 100 years before the first church was built in Virginia," he added, arguing that it is vital to the success of any Hispanic ministry to break the stereotype of the "illiterate immigrant."
The conference was offered to bishops and staff involved in or planning Hispanic ministries in their dioceses and grew out of a longer, summer programme offered at the Seminario de San Andres, Mexico City. It provided personal interaction between cultures as the group worshipped in Spanish and heard prominent Hispanic teachers and leaders discuss the family and religious background of the Latin American culture. "This training is one of the many, valuable things that the Diocese of Mexico can offer to the whole church," said Bishop Carranza.
"We wanted to create a spiritual and cultural experience for our guests," said the Revd Canon Herbert Arrunategui, staff officer for Hispanic Ministries at the Episcopal Church Center and board member for the Hispanic Trust Fund, both co-sponsors of the conference with the Diocese of Mexico. "We, in the United States, need to know the background of those members in our congregations," he said.
"This is the second time we have offered this immersion experience because there was so much interest in the House of Bishops after our initial 1997 conference," Canon Arrunategui explained.
Intending to cover the basic situations confronted in Hispanic ministry, speakers at the conference discussed the important role of family and mother, the popular religiosity confronted daily in Hispanic ministry and the immigrant status of Hispanics in the U.S.