The Hispanic Summer Program Experience

HSP 2013 Student: Cindy Jurado Mendez is a FPU Seminary Student enrolled in the Masters of Arts in Urban Missions program.

For two weeks I, along with six other FPU seminary students, was immersed in culture, community, and academia. The Hispanic Summer Program was an incredible experience that affirmed, challenged, and inspired me in my academic and spiritual journey. There were over 60 students in attendance, all of which were masters or Ph.D. level. Over 11 different denominations were represented from seminaries around the United States and Puerto Rico. Additionally the six of us, FPU seminary students, represented a diverse group including a Master of Divinity student, Masters of Theology, a Masters of Urban Mission, and three Marriage and Family therapy students. All of us were eager to participate in the program and grow deeper theologically and academically.
I along with one other FPU seminarian, Hector Hernandez, took the course entitled Race, Ethnicity, and New Testament. It was a two-week intense/intensive ethnic discourse between the students and the Biblical text. We were challenged in our theologies, ideologies, and Biblical exegete methods. Our Biblical interpretation skills were put to the test. We dialogued about the different issues concerning race/ethnicity in the Bible and read various ethnic hermeneutic perspectives. Although challenging at times, the course allowed me to think critically, analyze, dialogue with the Biblical text and others whose perspective differed from my own. It allowed me to be engaged my own hermeneutic perspective and strengthen my own convictions concerning my faith, particularly as a Latina Anabaptist. Hector Hernandez states the following about his experience: “being immersed in a latin@* and Hispanic academic faith community for two weeks felt truly liberating. For me, I believe it is a step forward in my journey to truly be the person God created me to be, ethnicity and all.”
Overall the experience and knowledge I gained solidified my calling at the university and challenged me to pursue post-graduate studies at the Ph.D. level. The faculty, staff, and other students were encouraging, supportive, and inspiring. Our meal and leisure times were filled with both deep theological conversations and hilarious life stories. I have not only made friends for a lifetime but have been incorporated into a larger familia. This is a great opportunity for Latino@, theologically-focused students, to engage community and theology in their own context and culture. Additionally, I would encourage any Latino@ student to attend HSP next year in Illinois, not only because of the rigorous academics and challenging discussions but also for the amazing opportunities to see a fuller picture of God’s kingdom.

*Latin@ is a termed used in Latino/a theology as a gender inclusive term.