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Accompanying Youth in a Collective Process of Ministry: A Conversation with Cristian De La Rosa and Elizabeth Tamez Méndez

In this conversation, Dr. Cristian De La Rosa, national director of the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy, talks with Elizabeth Tamez-Mendez, executive director of New Generation3, about models of communication that accompany youth in a process of mentorship, leadership, Biblical interpretation, arts exploration, and more so that youth find their agency to share what is meaningful and relevant for their lives and ministries.

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:00:15] Welcome to this session of Imagining Multiple Models of Ministry with Youth. This is a series hosted by the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship. I am Dr. Elizabeth Tamez Méndez, executive director of New Generation3 and longtime collaborator with the CICW. Today Dr. Cristian De La Rosa of Boston University is joining us for conversation. Dr. Cristian, thank you for being our guest today. We're so happy to have you here. 

Cristian De La Rosa [00:00:43] Thank you. Thank you for the invitation. I'm so happy to be part of this initiative, and I'm looking forward to sharing out of my experience, out of my work and ministry with young people. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:00:56] Yes, we've had this conversation pending for several years, so I'm very excited personally that we finally get to talk about this very luxurious space for us to talk. So thank you for this. In this series we want to learn from one another about community worship practices in different contexts, especially those that encourage intergenerational relationships and empower youth. And Dr. Cristian, would you please share with us a bit about your context and your work? We're really eager to get to know more about it. 

Cristian De La Rosa [00:01:28] Thank you. I’m Cristian De La Rosa. I'm originally from Mexico. I’ve lived in the United States for a long time, involved mainly within the United Methodist Church. I'm an ordained elder with the United Methodist Church, the New England Conference. And I serve now at Boston University School of Theology as dean of students and community life and as faculty for contextual theology and practice. So I enjoy working in almost every topic or issue that is relevant to today's experiences. I can turn almost any topic into a class. But what I enjoy the most, I believe, at this point in my journey is facilitating the formation of a new generation of religious leaders. And what I mean by “religious leaders” is those that are going to become clergy, but also those that are going to be involved in our communities out of their faith commitments and faculty and seminaries, as well as those that really have a Christian foundation or a religious foundation . . . as a way of engaging, organizing, at any level, in any spaces, through any issues that call for justice. So one of the initiatives that I have at Boston University's School of Theology is that I direct a national initiative with the United Methodist Church, and now we included the Episcopal Church, or the Episcopal Church also is working with us, and it's called the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy. So that's part of what I do in terms of the formation of young people. And we serve with high school students, college students, and some seminary students. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:03:22] Thank you, Dr. Cristian. It's so good to learn about what is happening in your context and in your ministry. And as we frame our conversations in this series, we have chosen five values for corporate worship and models of ministry with youth. These are youth agency, spaces for theological questions, the role of the family, sparking intergenerational relationships, and designing multiple pathways for ministry with youth. Dr. Cristian, how has your work with Latino youth and young adults through the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy shaped all these spaces for youth agency and theological questions? What practices have you been able to integrate in your work at the Academy to create the right environment so that youth want to explore their questions about faith, religion, theology, and just life in general? 

Cristian De La Rosa [00:04:19] Let me add a little bit more in terms of the work that I do particularly with the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy, which I think is more direct and relevant to this conversation. And again, we serve with high school students—it's a national program—and also college students, all Latinx students, and the model and the design is that we basically began working with high school students, and the idea was to continue serving only with high school students, helping them with four components in the design of the curriculum. We have a three-year curriculum where we accompany them through their experience of high school to make sure they graduate and they are ready to go to university. The four components in the design of the curriculum are discernment of call, their plan for higher education, leadership formation, and then commitment and awareness about pressing issues in the community, so, skills for community organizing. So those are the four components in the design of the curriculum.

When the first group graduated, they wanted to continue, and we were not sure how to have them come back. So we encouraged them to suggest how they might want to come back. They made two suggestions. One was to create a college component where they can continue to grow, and we could accompany them through their four years of university. And they also wanted to come back in helping the leadership of the high school students. So that was wonderful because this model is very unique where we work with high school students, and the leadership team and the mentors are college students that went through the program. And then for the college students, we have seminary students that are in the leadership team and serve as mentors for college students. And then we also tap into PhD students to mentor and be resources for a seminary student. So it's an intergenerational effort where they are being formed, but they also commit to form and participate in the formation of the next generation after them. And definitely that makes the program very relevant.

But one component that I'm always surprised about, particularly with high school students, and I want to share this example with you, is that I'm always concerned about the biblical interpretations that we have. As you know, biblical interpretation is so fundamental for our formation, particularly for young people: what we believe, what we understand, what are the values that are important for us, and what is our perspective in life? All of that is really grounded, particularly in our Latinx context and in Spanish-speaking congregations or Latinx congregations or Latin American congregations, is our interpretation of the Bible and our understanding of the interpretation of the Bible. So one of the elements that really empowers youth, and I can see their agency coming into play, is that this conversation that we have about “What is theology?” first, and then, “Who does theology?” And then the realization that everybody can do theology. It’s not left only for the pastors or the Sunday school teachers or the theologians or the professors at seminary. Every person of faith, every human being, even if they don't know it, they're doing theology. So that's a finding that for high school students is such a surprise. You mean I can read the Bible and I don't have to like . . . no, I read the Bible and then I go to the translation or the interpretation or the pastor or the Sunday school teacher, because, as you know, particularly in Spanish, where we are guided into this memorizing effort—I'm a good Christian if I can memorize all the books of the Bible, or all the text, or all of the interpretation of every text, I don't even think through it. I just memorize, and that's great. So we pick an interpretation. But for high school students, it is wonderful to see how they realize that everyone can do theology, that it’s important to engage the text. And in the United Methodist tradition, we do it through this method that we have; we call it the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. It’s basically a Wesleyan way of doing that that our founder, John Wesley, used himself, and so we adopted it as a way of doing theology, but also as a way of living our life, making any decision, the process. And so we explain to the high school students about part of our tradition as people from the Wesleyan movement, the Wesleyan tradition, United Methodist. We have these four elements that we take into consideration when we interpret the Bible and when we make any decision in life. We take into consideration the tradition, the history of our denomination, what is traditional in our denomination; we take into consideration the importance of Scripture; and we take into consideration the importance of our own experience; how we then engage these three through reason, and reason is all the other elements that are combined with the importance of formal education. And so these four elements—tradition, scripture, experience, and reason—help us to interpret. So after we talk about that—and this is not simple with young people, but they can pick it up very quickly—we talk about what is theology for us, the theology method that we use in our tradition, and alongside is the importance of taking leadership in all this. Because, again, the Academy is this whole thing of “You are a leader; . . . we expect you to be a leader within the denomination, within the community. And so we give them then a passage from scripture. One of my favorite passages comes from Matthew. It's Matthew 15:21–28, the one about the mother and her child, the Canaanite woman, and it parallels the Syrophoenician woman. And so this woman stops Jesus and the disciples, and it becomes a real intense argument. So I ask them, “Look at this passage. Forget anything that you heard. What is going on in this passage? And again, use your experience.” And they can easily, very easily relate this passage to racism today, to sexism today, to the reaction of Jesus that is so unexpected. Doesn’t he want to help this woman? And so they question that. And then, at the end, particularly the young women can see how women have power. This woman had the power to stop Jesus and the disciples on the way to wherever they were going. And she would not allow them to leave until they answer her. . . . I like using this passage because of the agency of the woman before Jesus and the disciples. And if they are really preaching a new reality, a new family in this world, then they need to include women. And so this becomes a very liberating explanation. I love hearing that from high school students, because they can bring all of this into play, into what they see in the text, and this is almost the first time that they are able to do that or they are allowed, with older religious leaders or pastors and faculty, to even say what they think about a scripture and then relate it to current issues, to the struggles that they have themselves, and what is going on in community. So then it becomes the way that we can then talk about pressing issues like racism, classism, sexism, and all of that. So I think that is a component that we really work with in the in the Academy, the Hispanic Leadership Academy, or HYLA, in terms of facilitating the agency, the empowerment that we hope will help young people to continue using this method for interpretation of scripture, but also for their own decisions in life. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:12:28] You pointed out something very important at the beginning where this model, it's something that is easy for us to replicate—not easy, perhaps, in the process or the how-to, but easy in the sense that this can be done in our different contexts where we bring different generations together. That's so important that the younger are learning from the others and they're coming together and are seeing themselves as interconnected in the formation of one another. That's very unique in the way that the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy is working, that you purposely make sure that high school students and college students and seminary students and PhD students are all coming together and being able to shape and inform one another, and then in this practice of specifically theology and giving examples, because we see that all the time in our context, to be able to see someone else that's a few steps ahead of you and to know that, OK, I'm struggling right now to make it in my academic journey or the next steps in my process, and yet I get to see somebody else. So it's like, see, it's possible. I think a lot of our congregations and organizations can implement this type of thinking about how we create more of these intergenerational spaces and in the leadership of mentoring, and not only thinking of mentoring as adults to younger youth, but the youth in different stages speaking to each other’s life. 

Cristian De La Rosa [00:14:09] There is a lot of what in the academy or in the social systems we might call “informal mentoring”, but really for me it’s mentoring of life. And again, we go back to the importance of community. I don't think we are designed to be individualistic or build our own formation or build our own careers individually. I think it's a collective effort. We need to do it in community. Another experience with the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy is that we find this peer mentoring when we are on site, and even after the events we hold academies in the summer for a week long for groups of fifteen or twenty; we never have more than twenty in an academy. The curriculum is a three-year curriculum, so they are together every summer for at least a week, but then through the year they communicate with each other. They have their own ways of structuring, and they come back the next summer and the summer after. There is a lot of peer-to-peer mentoring that happens there, advising each other and helping each other. But also within the program, every night we build in what's called HYLA After Dark, meaning when we finish the dinner and the evening presentation, we basically just find them a big room where they can stay up late and talk about whatever they want to talk about. We just provide the pizza or sandwiches or whatever food and drink they want, sodas. One or two of us might be outside the door and make sure that everything is OK, particularly with the high school students. We don't have to do this with the college students, but the high school students, two of us always have to be with them. We don't provide them any content. They decide what content. And if they want, they can call us in the room to help with whatever. But most of the time, they're telling each other the briefing, the new information, but they're also building on whatever they find. I find that generates questions for the next day. Or they may even change the emphasis that we have on a particular topic for the following day. So it's a space of debriefing and mentoring. But also I find that even after the events, the high school students will continue to communicate with the college students that were in the leadership teams that led that particular academy. And the same with the college students that led with seminary students. So that's part of the mentoring that happens; it’s part of our process as a community, a collective process that happens that we don't plan for and probably would take a bunch of money to structure, and we don't want to really structure because then we're limiting what they they can talk about, what they can have, what they can do. I find that very helpful. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:17:15] I think you pointed out something very important for different contexts in ministry, that giving them that freedom, that space to be, it's very interesting what arises from it. Give them the space, nurture the community, and they will inform you. A lot of leaders are always wondering, what is it that they want, what do they want to talk about, what do they want to do? And when we create these spaces for them to just get together and have conversations, they provide us the answers. That was something very unique about what you said in the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy. We asked them, what would be some intentional ways for us to continue our community? Because it makes sense; they spent this time together for three years. They build some very deep relationships that were not just for the moment, but you have done such a wonderful job in helping them to curate and continue to nurture those relationships, even one year after the other. And now they're like, What? We're done? . . . We want more! I think the importance of that, a lot of people are always wondering, what is it that you need? This is it. This is what they need. They need these communities where they know they're heard, where they have close relationships, where they . . . want to come back. Nobody has to ask me to come back to this program or has to bribe me to say, Let's go during the summer. I'm sure they're counting down the days! And then to have this type of agency to say that one way we could continue this and stay together [will] shape the next program that you're doing with spaces for theological discussions. 

Cristian De La Rosa [00:19:14] I think also . . . these spaces contribute to identity formation. The piece of the curriculum that contributes to agency and empowerment, because a great deal for these young leaders has to do with my own agency, how to identify and deploy my own agency, and how do I gain power? I have this sense of empowerment, but really each person has their own power. So it's more like, how do I take power in a way that helps me to succeed—not only to survive, but to actually succeed and do well. So I think that part of the curriculum that we have also is we talk about pre-Columbian spirituality, pre-Columbian cultures before the introduction of Christianity that is so essential to our own identity as people of the Americas. And I mean, for most of them it's the first time they ever addressed this. Most history begins with the introduction of Christianity, or even when we look at world history, there's very little unless you take a specific class about ancient civilizations or whatever, everything begins with Christianity. Well, we did not begin with Christianity as Latin American communities. There's so much still about us that has to do with pre-Columbian cultures, religions, understandings, languages. And so part of our curriculum for these academies is a big piece on elements that contribute to retrieving our own identity, retrieving points of reference that we need for our own identity. So I find that so empowering for the young people because they will not get this in a class. Maybe if they choose to go into that area to do a Ph.D. they will find it. Or maybe they choose to sign up for a specific class like Chicano studies. But most universities don't even offer that anymore, or Indigenous cultures or whatever. But very few universities touch on that. So I think that component also contributes to the agency that they find and the identity that is built through the program, through participation in the academy. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:21:41] That is so important, that point that you touched upon, because we're always reminding leaders that especially for communities of color and in working with youth, this is vital, that sense of creating empowerment and agency and communities where the youth have grown perhaps having that sense that they don't have a voice, that they don't have power, that they're marginalized, that sense that the resources are lacking. And so then how do we liberate them through precisely these spaces, to see that there’s so much more, and you have a very rich identity which at times has not been highlighted, celebrated, talked about. That was one of the great blessings that I had; that's how you and I met, at the Hispanic Summer Program. I was doing my Ph.D., and this was the first time I was introduced to these concepts of understanding our identity and theology and leadership development, how it all comes together from the Latino perspective, and it just messed with me, because [I was] like, OK, let's go back to rewrite, because this is not at all what I'm hearing in my institution where I'm earning my Ph.D., and I certainly didn't have any Latino professors at all. Those spaces for youth of color to be able not only to view one another, but to reinterpret and understand theology from this more inclusive and wider approach and to understand a lot of the family practices, community practices, the language that we use when we refer to God, and what place God has in our lives and why we make the decisions. You were mentioning that that's part of the experience that youth have as they're working through these aspects of developing theology. What have you seen as they're grappling with theology and their identity as Latinos? 

Cristian De La Rosa [00:23:47] Thank you for sharing your own experience, because when you take into consideration that only two percent of us end up, from our whole Latinx community in the United States, two percent end up with Ph.D. programs. The whole thing that we have to wait until a Ph.D. program to even be introduced to some of these elements that are so vital to our identity is really sad, from my perspective, and is detrimental for some young people. They really need these points of reference to find their own identity. We talk about young people that have to live mainly in an Anglo-dominated culture, but then at home we have very different points of reference. So how do they learn to manage that, or how do they figure out how to manage it? Many do well by themselves, but I think these points of reference from our ancestors, from our cultures, religions prior to Christianity really help because they resolve a lot of unresolved or elements that are seen as negative. One brief example very quickly is, our young people like to do—we call it graffiti in a negative sense, but it's really art. And it’s because our languages . . . most people, particularly Mexico area, Central America, we’re part of the Nahuatl culture, and the Nahuatl culture, to be an academic in our culture you had to be able to be an artist, a poet, a musician. The language is not only a spoken word; it has to be accompanied with art, with pictures, pictographs. It's a pictographic language. And it's also a way of translating from one culture to another, from one language to another, and then Indigenous different cultures and languages. And so a person that was in what we now consider an academician would have to be a translator, an artist, a poet, a musician, and have all of these. You're probably familiar with the tradition of flor y canto, which includes some of these elements in the Nahuatl culture.

So our young people are always drawing, and that's logical, because it is not enough just to speak, to express themselves with words; they need to express. And it is in our DNA. It has survived within our bodies that we have to communicate through drawing, through music. We see those negative “They're always, doing graffiti everywhere.” Well, no, they're expressive, and we don't listen to it. We raised them, we take these artistic parts out of them, but it's part of their necessary expression. And so those are the things that young people need to hear. Some of our colleagues that deal with Chicano studies, that deal with cultural components,cultural theory have written about this. So it's important to provide our young people in high school when they're dealing with identity issues to provide them with this information, that that's more normal than you realize for us. It might not be accepted in the overall culture; it might be labeled as negative by our churches in this Christian tradition, but it's not really foreign to our bodies. Our DNA, our ways of thinking and processing our philosophies require that for us to grow, for us to be who we are meant to be. But all of that has been obscured by Christianity, by a lot of other cultures that were imposed on us as descendants of this colonizing process. So for me to share this information with young people when they're in high school, then reinforce, continue adding to it when they're in college, is so vital for their identity and agency and empowerment that they are able to identify within themselves, and then to succeed, not only to survive, but to succeed. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:28:07] That has been something that keeps resonating with me: how we help them not only to survive or to stay out of trouble . . . but to thrive and succeed and be able to go beyond. You were sharing some of the beautiful stories in our conversation we before we started recording, and I was sharing some of our ministry too, how we see these young people who we were able to invest in when they were younger; they were middle school, high school kids, and now they're young adults with families and professions, and they continue this legacy of helping the younger generations think theologically, but also helping the church to progress and to bring new life and air into its work and just being able to interpret things from a different perspective. And I know that in your work with young people and these theological questions and grappling with all of this, you certainly have had these “aha” moments, stories. Do you have any—I'm curious,what their reaction has been when they have the spaces to say, Wait, let me read scripture, and what is it that I'm seeing and hearing? 

Cristian De La Rosa [00:29:25] Well, an “aha” moment for me, following up on the story that I share about Matthew 15, it's always an “aha” moment with high school students. I'm amazed at how they react, and they're so genuine about their reactions. But an “aha” moment was when we finished that session, the next day a young woman comes to me and says, “Pastora, pastora, can I have again the scripture that we worked with yesterday? I want to tell my pastor about this.” For her to say “I want to tell my pastor” for me meant the pastor never interpreted the scripture that way. So now she's not only thinking about doing different interpretation, but she's already becoming a translator and a teacher with this. And then several years ago, three or four years ago, one of our graduates from a college group accepted a position to work in a bishop's office. Inthe United Methodist Church we have bishops, so they are a region. And so one of our graduates was able to secure a position working with the bishop's office. When she shared that with me and how appreciative she was of HYLA, because that's where she learned about how the structure of the United Methodist Church works and how she began to then really look beyond her local congregation when she participated in HYLA, that was for me an “aha” moment. This is how it becomes relevant in how she has impacted from her position in a very different way, because she makes sure that there is some work that happens with young Latinx leaders, leaders in the churches that are working with young people. But she also makes sure there is something that happens in her region that helps Latinx high school and college students. And then another “aha” moment for me is the look on the students for the college groups. As I mentioned, we pull together groups of fifteen, twenty students in each of the academies every summer, and the looks of everyone when we first gather in a room to have eighteen, twenty other college students in the same room, all Latinx students, all Methodist students.

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:31:55] They look like me!

Cristian De La Rosa [00:31:58] Yeah, exactly. . . . And then at the end, they have formed a community that becomes so strong that they continue to communicate even though they live in very different parts of the country. And then I personally have “aha” moments when I find them in seminary, when I get an email and it says, “Dr. De La Rosa, I just want to let you know that I've been accepted to . . . Lately it's acceptance into Ph.D. programs, which for me is like, “Oh my God, they're getting there.” We've been doing this for about eighteen years, so now that generation is becoming ordained in the Methodist Church. They're becoming leaders in different institutions, but they also are moving forward. And in these exercises that I mentioned, particularly the interpretation, the process to interpret, helps them in different ways. They will preach differently. They will teach differently if they end up being teachers. And then if they end up being community organizers or leaders of organizations in the community, they will lead in a very different way. So for me, it's very important that we continue doing this work with young people. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:33:13] Just creating those spaces for their voice, for connections, for knowing that there's other like-minded youth who want to continue growing in leadership and agency in their theological, biblical understanding and being able to embrace, . . . regardless of any denomination, this tradition within the Methodist Church, the four squares of how do we live, how do we make the decisions through biblical interpretations, our reason, our experience, our tradition, just helping young people make that real connection with with God, with the Bible, with theology, with the church, [and] how does that affect my life? You’re bringing these spaces where they're able to then tear it apart and say, this is the “So what,” to read these stories from a completely different perspective and to realize that, yes, Jesus and the disciples grew up in a certain culture themselves, and they themselves had to be renovated in their way of looking at each other, of relating with one another, of treating women, of treating those who are of different ethnic and racial backgrounds and nationalities. That was part of their journey as well. And I think right now we keep hearing a lot of churches who are grappling with these aspects of racism and being able to have more of a wider perspective with other ethnicities and at the same time grappling with how we help the church continue its work. And you have presented for us a beautiful model today of how bringing the different generations together for community, for conversations, for deep conversations, which I think sometimes leaders feel that if they go so deep or if they talk so much about theology, then youth will be turned off. And it's been your experience, as has been ours, that to the contrary, they're like, “We really get to talk about something deep and important, and you're making me think?” And they're excited by that challenge. Thank you for setting that example. 

Cristian De La Rosa [00:35:33] The components of meaning—we need to design programs or facilitate ministries that have meaning and relevance, and it’s very difficult to figure out what has meaning and relevance for young people when we're no longer young people. So I think the best we can do, for our own sake, also, because they will be the ones that will help us as we get older; they will replace us. And they are already helping us [learn that it] is important to ask from them what is meaningful and relevant for them rather than us telling them what should be meaningful and relevant. And I think the model in most of our Spanish-speaking congregations is that the adults are constantly telling the youth what they should believe, how they should believe it, how they should behave, and having long lists of things that they shouldn't do. And I think that this doesn't work anymore. Maybe it worked at some point. But in today's context, in your context of the United States, it doesn't work anymore. It's so important for me to facilitate that. They help us figure out and they figure out what is meaningful and relevant for them. And we accompany them in that process. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:36:54] In the process of reflection, of critical thinking. I always share with leaders that really they're our best teachers. They have a very direct pulse on what's going on out there, the day to day, and they can share, they tell us, just like they did in your program, they said, “This is what we would like to do. This is how we imagine that we can continue getting together and having community.” And then something beautiful was birthed out of it. But it came from them, from within them. And I think that's where a lot of our churches could benefit precisely from that, from creating spaces where we can increase the trust that there is, the communication, the relationship, to then go into these spaces of critical thinking, of being able to tap into each other and say, “What is it that we need here?” Because we see a lot in different contexts that they want to replicate what somebody else is doing, or they want to take advice about the generations: What are the millennials, what is Generation Z? And they just want to take it at face value and go replicate the same thing. Well, you know, we have kids who are working in the chicken farms right before they go to high school. I don't think they need the same thing as the kids who are over here struggling because they're not perfect in their grades and they want to get into the Ivy League school. So spend time with them, and they will tell you what it is that is relevant for your context, for your ministry in creating these spaces for reflection. But I know it can be intimidating for some leaders to think that way. 

Cristian De La Rosa  [00:38:36] Yeah, it’s intimidating to share the leadership with young people, particularly because we are led to believe that the adults have priority and we are the ones that have the wisdom and the expertise. But for me it’s a matter of sharing leadership and modeling what shared leadership, collective leadership can be about. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:39:00] We always encourage leaders to think this way, that precisely if we want to see them continuing in the church, to have leadership in the community, to flourish, the sooner we begin to create the spaces for them, the more they learn about this. And so, of course, in leadership studies, we're always pointing to research, and over and over again, yes, of course, in human development, the earlier in your life you learn something and practice it, the more it becomes ingrained in who you are. But somehow we have this disconnect of leadership in young people and youth and children, . . . [that] that's for adults. Then later we worry. Once they're adults, we want to help them become leaders in the community and the church. And certainly some aspects of impact we can have, but not as big and as life-shaping as we can when we're there early on. So we're so grateful for ministries like the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy that is very intentional. For me, that was very encouraging. . . . We make sure that our young people continue to see themselves in this light too because they often don't hear that, “Yes, you are a leader in formation, an emerging face.” So thank you for the big ministry that you're doing, intersecting in the lives of these young people as they're going through their formation. 

Cristian De La Rosa [00:40:36] Thank you for the invitation. And I have to recognize that the United Methodist Church, at least one of our national agencies, we have an emphasis on Latino Hispanic ministries as one of our missional priorities and has recognized through that the need for these spaces. Particularly we have what's called the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and in their interest to create a semillero, a space from where we could recruit for our Methodist colleges and seminaries. They have supported this academy for eighteen years now. Now we are venturing and joining in partnership with the Episcopal Church to do the same within the Episcopal Church. So we want to thank also the leadership, the Hispanic leadership nationally from the Episcopal Church that has been so committed to creating a pipeline, because we're looking at how do we establish pipelines so Latino leadership within the denominations, from high school all the way to doctoral programs, and in the between, how do we recruit new generations of clergy. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:41:49] Thank you for pointing that out. I think that's going to be very inspirational for several leaders who work at the denominational level to be able to envision their ministry in this wider perspective. Thank you very much, Dr. Cristian, for this engaging conversation. We have learned so much from you today. 

Cristian De La Rosa [00:42:10] Thank you. Thank you for the invitation. Greatly appreciated. 

Elizabeth Tamez Méndez [00:42:13] I know that a conversation can go on and on because we're so passionate about young leaders in the Latino community to develop. And I really want to thank our viewers for joining us in this session of Imagining Multiple Models of Ministry with Youth. We pray that these conversations inspire and encourage your efforts in reaching the next generations. And please join us for the next video in the series, and leave us a comment about this session; we really want to hear from you.