by Rod Boyd
Last month the two Assemblies of God international organizations of Spanish-speaking countries – CELAD (northern 14 countries) and CADSA (southern 6 countries) – merged into the newly formed Assemblies of God Hispanic Fellowship. Actually, the decision to unify CELAD and CADSA was made by the two organizations last fall in their separate meetings. But the first meeting of the AGHF (in Spanish FHAD – Fraternidad Hispana de las Asambleas de Dios) was conducted last month in Guayquil, Ecuador.
The primary purpose of the meeting was to develop and approve a constitution for the new organization. The executive committees for CELAD and CADSA worked together to write a prototype constitution. Article by article, the constitution was considered, amended and adopted. Once completed the whole constitution was ratified and elections held for the various officers.
The new structure of the AGHF reflects not just the unification of two entities, but also geographic expansion and representation. Six areas were established:
- Southern South America – Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay and Brazil
- Northern South America – Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela and Colombia
- Central America – Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala
- Caribbean / Mexico – Belize, Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Mexico
- North America – United States and Canada
- Europe, Africa and the Rest of the World – Spain, Canary Islands, Equatorial Guinea
Each Spanish-speaking country is allowed seven delegates at the assembly meetings, to be held every three years. In addition, Spanish-speaking districts in non-speaking countries are also allowed to send delegates to the assembly meetings.
The directory board is comprised of the president, vice president, secretary, treasurer and a representative from six areas. However, the officers also serve as the representatives of their areas. Elections were held for the four officers and later for the two representatives of the two areas not represented by an officer. The results were as follows:
- President / Representative of Central America – Ricardo Castillo, National Superintendent in Costa Rica
- Vice President / Representative of Caribbean / Mexico – Abel Flores, National Superintendent in Mexico
- Secretary / Representative of Southern South America – Mario Astellano, District Superintendent in Argentina (formerly the secretary of CADSA)
- Treasurer / Representative of North America – Sergio Navarrete, District Superintendent in the United States (Southern Pacific Latin)
- Representative of Northern South America – Jimmy Salazar, National Superintendent in Ecuador
- Representative of Europe / Africa / Rest of the World – Juan Carlos Escobar, National Superintendent in Spain
There was a strong historic tone over the meeting, especially in the closing session. Copies of the minutes of the meeting and the new constitution were distributed at the end. Then each delegate was invited to the front to sign the official minutes… that’s right, just like it was done at the signing of the Declaration of Independence! Then the new directory board and the directors and chairpersons of the recognized ministries and commissions were invited to stand across the front of the meeting room. I was privileged to represent Servicio de Educación Cristiana (Christian Education Services). We were surrounded by the delegates from the 18 countries represented, who laid their hands on us and prayed for God’s wisdom and strength for what lies ahead.
Expanding Horizons for Ministerial Training
What lies ahead for ministerial training with the formation of the Assemblies of God Hispanic Fellowship? The impact of this new organization can be summed up in three words:
Unification. Unification has been an important component of SEC since its inception decades ago. Even though CELAD and CADSA functioned as independent organizations, SEC has enjoyed broad representation and support. However, the merger of CELAD and CADSA formalizes our unified education program and affirms the strength of sharing Spanish as our common language, working together to develop programs and resources that benefit the preparation of harvest workers.
Integration. Up until recently, SEC had operated outside of, but in parallel with the CELAD and CADSA structures. The SEC directory board includes the national superintendent of what were the CELAD and CADSA member countries. Recently, SEC has participated in the triennial meetings of CELAD, giving a formal report to the delegates. SEC has also participated in the recent combined CELAD-CADSA meetings. Quite naturally, SEC was recognized as an official ministry of the new AGHF during the recent meeting.
We anticipate that the SEC directory board will continue to operate in parallel with AGHF. However, the current SEC constitution dictates that the presidents of CELAD and CADSA serve on the administrative committee as well as a representative from each organization, elected at the triennial meeting. The SEC administrative committee will consider necessary changes to the constitution that will be presented at the next SEC triennial meeting in August 2015.
Expansion. The most profound impact that the new AGHF will have on ministerial training is the expanded geographical areas that SEC will serve. We have had direct communication from Spain and Canada in the last couple of years. We were privileged to have a representative from Spain at the SEC triennial meeting in Lima, Peru in Sept. 2012. In addition, there is growing interest and participation from Hispanic districts in the United States. Both the ISUM (BA completion program) and Facultad de Teología (master’s level program) have been offering classes in the United States for several years. Even though we don’t know the extent of SEC’s participation in these new areas, there will most certainly be new levels of collaboration in ministerial training programs.
The formation of the Assemblies of God Hispanic Fellowship is a positive and progressive step for the Spanish-speaking countries in the Latin America and Caribbean region. The strength of common language gives our region a strong voice in the Assemblies of God worldwide and will make it a major player in both ministerial training and missionary endeavors around the world.
How do you view the formation of the AGHF? Will this have any impact on the Hispanic church in the United States? Will the US Hispanic church become more involved in Latin America?