SEU Receives Grant for Hispanic and Latino Leadership Development
A grant exceeding $1 million from Lily Endowment Inc. will aid Southeastern University in expanding its Avance Initiative, a year-long Christian leadership program for the next generation of Hispanic and Latino church leaders.LAKELAND, Fla. — Southeastern University (SEU) has received a $1.09 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to help expand the reach and impact of the Avance Initiative, a collaboration between the university’s Carrión Hispanic Leadership Center (CHLC) and the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC).
The project will be funded through Lilly Endowment’s Thriving Congregations Initiative, aimed to encourage the flourishing of congregations by helping them deepen their relationships with God, enhance their connections with each other, and contribute to the vitality of their communities and the world.
SEU is one of 105 organizations that have received a grant through the Thriving Congregations Initiative.
The Avance Initiative is a comprehensive, year-long Christian leadership program designed to empower the next generation of Hispanic and Latino church leaders. In order to address the generational and socio-cultural shifts within Hispanic and Latino congregations, the initiative aims to equip these congregations to become thriving centers of spiritual growth and community engagement.
“The initiative was birthed out of our love for the church and the belief that thriving churches can impact the world,” said Jeanette Salguero, executive director of the CHLC. “I am honored and excited to help bring this to life, and with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, empower congregations to become thriving centers of spiritual growth and community engagement.”
NaLEC launched the initial pilot of the Avance Initiative in 2017, and with the support of the grant funds, SEU plans to expand on its existing success and formalize it as a program through the CHLC.
“The Avance Initiative is a vision rooted in serving and empowering one of the fastest-growing segments of U.S. Christianity, the Latino church,” commented Gabriel Salguero, NaLEC founder and president. “NaLEC is honored to collaborate with SEU's Carrión Hispanic Leadership Center in catalytic efforts to empower thriving congregations towards health and service.”
The program will focus on four key areas specifically tailored to address the unique needs and challenges of Hispanic and Latino congregations: emotional and spiritual health of the leader, biblical and pastoral theology in a changing world, organizational thinking, and prophetic advocacy.
“We desire to prepare and cultivate multigenerational leaders and congregations that have the capabilities to lead and serve holistically,” expressed President Kent Ingle. “In order to continue furthering our mission to serve and empower the local church, we aim to strengthen the capacity of Hispanic and Latino congregations to live out their faith in ways that shape the world around them.”
The program will be designed to serve a cohort of 20 congregations and emerging leaders annually. It will also employ a blend of online and face-to-face learning.
Ultimately, the Avance program will aim to launch educational sites at the congregations that have completed the year-long intensive. The sites will then serve as a hub to provide resources, training programs, and support for the new generation of ministry leaders within the congregations.