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The Young Clergy Initiative (YCI) Hosts Hispanic/Latino(a) Youth Leadership Academy

October 16, 2015

On September 26, 2015 the Young Clergy Initiative (YCI) at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary hosted a fellowship and mentoring session with Hispanic/Latino(a) high school students, pastors, and Garrett-Evangelical seminarians. With support from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church, the YCI at Garrett-Evangelical seeks to help Hispanic/Latino(a) high school youth and college young adults explore their call to ministry

The opening session started with a time of worship and praise using the Spanish language hymnal Mil Voces para Celebrar. Participants spoke in Spanish and/or English, whichever came naturally. It was a time to pray together and to share stories. After worship, Mrs. Patricia Bonilla (G-ETS 2007), coordinator of YCI at Garrett-Evangelical, led a time of reflection to talk about the experiences of some of the youth who had participated in the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) held at Boston University School of Theology in August. Participants shared their thoughts on the HYLA experience and more:

“I had the best time of my life. It is good to be around people like us.”

“We always have labels that define who we are, but we need to stand together so that these labels are not the only things that define us.”

“With Trump and everything going on in this country, it is not a good time for Latinos. As Latinos we find a lot of closed doors.”

“HYLA brought us a sense of community and closeness.”

“I was impressed when Andres (another high school student who participated in the HYLA summer program) preached. I realized that we are able to bring change to our community.”

In addition to the time for reflection, Bonilla, along with Dr. Luis R. Rivera, academic dean at Garrett-Evangelical, and Dr. Débora Junker, director of the Hispanic/Latino(a)-Latin American Center at Garrett-Evangelical, alternately shared some aspects of their vision for advancing the YCI program. “The YCI aims to help Hispanic/Latino(a) youth discern and nurture their vocation and leadership skills so that they can be effective leaders for the church and the world,” said Junker. “We will continue to meet on a regular basis to foster a sense of community and to build partnerships necessary for Hispanic/Latino(a) youth leadership development and vocational discernment.”

The Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) in partnership with United Methodist Universities and Seminaries and the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church. HYLA is committed to assisting Hispanic/Latino(a) youth discover and embrace their relationship with God while encouraging them as they complete their education and refine their leadership skills. To learn more about the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy, go to

The Young Clergy Initiative (YCI) at Garrett-Evangelical is focused on developing a comprehensive program to help young Hispanic/Latino(a) students discern and hear the call to lay and ordained ministry and to train, mentor and nurture them as they continue in their spiritual and vocational journey. As such, YCI strategically partners with communities, churches, colleges and universities, United Methodist agencies, annual conferences and key individuals to help identify and prepare high school and college Hispanic/Latino(a) students for leadership. The YCI at Garrett-Evangelical was made possible through a grant from the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry of The United Methodist Church.