The central mission of the Center for the Study of Latino/a Christianity and Religions at Perkins School of Theology is to promote a deeper understanding of the varieties of religious life and expression within the Latino/a communities in the United States and in Latin America. Building upon the rich history of its Mexican American Program, Perkins seeks to strengthen its engagement with Latino/a realities through its educational programs, the generation and conduct of research, and the dissemination of knowledge. The Center will address topics and issues related to the Latino/a religious experience within a broader ecumenical and religious context, as well as with attention to international dynamics and realities.
Deepening understanding. A major thrust of the Center will be to encourage and facilitate research in the area of Latino/a Christianity and religions. A deeper understanding of Latino/a religious life, expressions, and traditions calls for the careful study of historical, social, and theological aspects of the Latino/a religious experience. The Center seeks to encourage research on Hispanic congregational life, private devotion, religious identities, and belief systems. Latino/a religious diversity, as well as the lively interaction among various religious traditions, also needs attention in this process. All this will require collaborative, interdisciplinary, and contextual approaches to the task. In fostering and supporting innovative research projects by both younger and established scholars, the Center will contribute to the growth of knowledge concerning Latino/a religion and religiosity. At the basis of this emphasis on research is the belief that the theological education of religious leadership should be grounded in solid scholarship and insight.
Shaping theological education. A central purpose of the Center is to influence theological education, in the first instance locally at Perkins School of Theology, but also at other theological institutions over the course of time. The Center seeks to work in partnership with the various degree programs at Perkins School of Theology in preparing religious leaders to minister in a social and religious context in which the Latino/a population is an increasingly significant factor. The Center recognizes that leadership throughout the church needs to be prepared for the presence, dynamic growth, and increasing diversity of Hispanic populations. The preparation of church leadership for a Hispanic future must begin with their theological education. See the recent UM Reporter article featuring the ThM in Spanish.
Dissemination of knowledge. Through consultations, seminars, public events, and publications in a wide range of formats, the Center will share the results of new ventures in scholarship in these areas and the insights gained through this work in ways that will be of value to the churches, the academy, and the wider society. Of special interest is the exploration of modern communication technologies and internet resources for disseminating information.