Justo González: Seminaries Need More Latinos

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The theological education crisis is not financial. It’s demographic.

Over Cuban coffee and a meal, theology professor Benjamin Wayman discussed recent developments in theological education—particularly among Latino pastors—with church historian Justo González at his home in Decatur, Georgia. Acknowledging past and present failings of theological education in the North Atlantic, González identified promising paths for reaching more pastors on a demographic and global scale.

Could you describe the nature of your work for the church here in Decatur, Georgia, and abroad?

I consider myself first of all a pastor, even though I don’t pastor a church. I try to write as a pastor, pastoring both the church and other pastors. I quit teaching full time in 1977; I taught 16 years before that. My main occupation since that time has been twofold. One has been to write; the other has been to try to develop agencies and systems to support the theological education of Hispanics and Latinos.

What is the main focus of the Hispanic Theological Initiative?

The Hispanic Theological Initiative is mostly concerned with producing people who are capable of teaching and reading at the highest level of theological education (PhDs or similar degrees). It has been very, very successful. When I went to [American Academy of Religion conferences] back in the ’70s and the early ’80s, it would be a great joy to see friends I didn’t see frequently. We were a handful. When I resigned from teaching, I was the only Latino faculty member at any Protestant seminary in the country. When I go now, the joy is to see so many people I don’t know, Latinos I don’t know, mostly the result of the HTI. The HTI has made a tremendous impact.

There’s still a lot to do. I think the …

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