Mission and History

Click here to watch a video about the Mission and Vision of CHS.

What is the mission of CHS?
We form Lutheran pastors and deaconesses to make Jesus known in U.S. Hispanic communities.

What is the motto of CHS?
“Forming Lutherans for Hispanic Ministry.”

Who does CHS serve?
CHS serves congregations, church, and world on behalf of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod as its premier resource for the promotion and implementation of theological formation from and for U.S. Hispanic/Latino communities.

How does CHS fulfill its mission and live up to its motto?

  1. By equipping seminarians for U.S. Hispanic ministries in the Spanish language.
  2. By strengthening U.S. Hispanic ministries through continuing education for church workers.
  3. By doing research on questions relevant to U.S. Hispanic ministries.

History of CHS

Center for Hispanic Studies – Celebrating 25 Years Promoting theological education through Hispanic eyes

Some Historical Highlights:
The Hispanic Institute of Theology (HIT) is organized in Chicago, Illinois, as the Synod’s first U.S. theological education by extension (TEE) ministerial formation program in the Spanish language. Douglas Groll, a former missionary to Venezuela, Cuban-American pastor Roberto González, and Rev. Juan Berndt, once a professor at Seminario Concordia in Argentina, constitute the HIT’s first faculty members. They focus at first on the development of an 18-course pre-Seminary core curriculum for men and women who desire to serve as lay workers in various Synodical Districts.

Pastor Rubén Domínguez, originally from Mexico, joins the faculty, replacing Roberto González who had taken a call as Synod’s Counselor for Hispanic Ministries in 1989.

At the National Hispanic Conference in Miami, Florida, Synod’s President Ralph Bohlmann presents certificates to the first students who complete the pre-Seminary, lay-worker, formation program.

Upon completion of an additional 18-course Seminary level core curriculum, the first pastoral formation cohorts of HIT students are certified and receive their calls into the ministry. At the same time, the first group of HIT women students receive their certification for deaconess ministry through Concordia University, River Forest (currently Concordia University Chicago), after completing additional coursework beyond the pre-Seminary HIT curriculum.

HIT begins the tradition of offering continuing education workshops on Hispanic ministry for District Presidents, mission directors, and other leaders across the U.S. High profile speakers are also brought to Chicago and St. Louis to educate faculty and students on issues in Hispanic ministry.

Concordia Seminary Press publishes the essays of the historic 1st Hispanic National Convention of the LCMS compiled and edited by HIT faculty.

HIT offers some formation courses in Miami, Florida, in what becomes the first attempt at a Seminary level satellite.

HIT is reorganized as the Center for Hispanic Studies (CHS) on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri. Dr. Leopoldo Sánchez, born in Chile and raised in Panama, is appointed CHS Director upon Dr. Groll’s retirement. Mexican American pastor and HTI alum Eloy González joins the transition team as CHS Associate Director. Deaconess Rose Gilbert (now Adle) comes in to work on the formation of Hispanic women for deaconess ministries. In the area of formation, the CHS focuses vigorously on updating and reviewing its Seminary level pastoral and deaconess formation curriculum. More elective courses in missions, family studies, and systematic theology are included in the curriculum. In the area of continuing education, the Center continues the tradition of educating and raising awareness on issues in Hispanic ministry by sponsoring the Annual Lecture in Hispanic/Latino Theology and Missions at Concordia Seminary.

Dr. Sánchez, CHS Director, is appointed The Werner R.H. and Elizabeth Ringger Krause Chair for Hispanic Ministries. CHS hosts the 1st Hispanic Lutheran Theological Consultation in Spanish on the theme “Who Are We?: Hispanic Ministry and Lutheran Identity.” Deaconess Gilbert (Adle) ends her full-time service at CHS after becoming happily married, and continues to be an adjunct instructor for deaconess studies. Pastor Rubén Domínguez also ends his full-time service with the CHS, but continues as adjunct instructor.

Mark Kempff, former missionary to Latin America, joins the CHS as Instructor and Curriculum Developer. CHS begins a Seminary level satellite in Houston, Texas. CHS begins to offer some of its courses in a distance Web format, while continuing to offer most of its courses in its traditional short-term residential and/or extension delivery formats. In the area of publications, CHS partners with the Lutheran Society for Missiology (LSFM) to publish the first fully bilingual special issue of its journal Missio Apostolica on issues in Hispanic/Latino theology and missions.

In the area of advanced studies, CHS Seminary level courses begin to be approved for Masters level credit by the faculty of Concordia Seminary. In partnership with the Graduate School, CHS moves in the direction of eventually providing a growth path for qualified certificate students to earn a M.A. degree in theology in the Spanish language. Pastor González ends his service as CHS Associate Director after accepting a call as Senior Pastor to Our Redeemer Lutheran Church, Irving, Texas, but continues to serve as an adjunct instructor.

CHS begins a Seminary level satellite in Tampa, Florida. CHS formally partners with the Continuing Education Office of Concordia Seminary to offer summer workshops in Spanish and/or English on an annual basis across the U.S. In the area of publications, CHS partners with LOGIA: A Journal of Lutheran Theology to publish its first bilingual special issue on Latin American & U.S. Latino Lutheranism.

CHS hosts the 2nd Hispanic Lutheran Theological Consultation on the theme “2nd and 3rd Generation Hispanics: Questions and Implications for the Church.” This time the event is offered in English and Spanish. The very first group of CHS certificate students are admitted to the M.A. program through the Graduate School. It is the first M.A. taught in Spanish offered by a Lutheran Seminary in the Americas. CHS facilitates the beginning of a student-run Hispanic Ministry (Spanish) Club on campus.

CHS celebrates 25 years of theological formation in the Spanish language among U.S. Latinos and Latinas in the U.S. Hundreds of pre-Seminary (entrance) level students across the country served since 1987. Over 50 Seminary level pastoral and deaconess track graduates serving in U.S. Hispanic ministries. An average of 30 students taught Seminary level classes each academic year.