Feeding the Church with Cross-Cultural Ministry
By Linda L. Dienno, Vice President for Institutional Advancement at Virginia Theological Seminary
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Columbia, SC, honored the Rev. Alfredo “Fr. Fred” Gonzalez by making a significant donation to Virginia Theological Seminary in his name. Fr. Fred initiated and led a Hispanic worship community at St. Mary’s for many years. Reluctantly, the parish ended the Hispanic ministry, but wanted to honor Fr. Fred‘s work by providing seed money for others who might be interested in pursuing a similar ministry.
St. Mary’s gift has been included in a cross-cultural ministry fund established by the Class of 1951. It is available to assist seminarians and faculty who wish to learn new skills or strengthen existing ones in cross-cultural ministry.
The Rev. Jill Beimdiek, St. Mary’s interim rector, explained that the gift was comprised of individual donations as well as remaining ministry funds. She and the parish believed it needed to be directed where it could benefit others. Ultimately, she said they “decided simply to forward the funds to VTS, trusting that they will be used well.”
Dora B. Ruiz, Bladimiro Zuleta, Luz Zuleta, and The Rev. Alfredo Gonzalez with Bishop Waldo at Holy Cross, Simpsonville (2016)
Fr. Fred was delighted saying, “This is a wonderful tribute. We need people in cross-cultural ministry. Hispanic ministry is an important part of the future of the Church because there will always be first generations coming to this country. Everyone feels better worshipping in their own language. By the second or third generation, families will worship in English because English will be their first language. So cross-cultural ministry feeds the Church with new and hopeful people.”
Fr. Fred currently serves as the assistant for Hispanic Ministries at Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Simpsonville, SC, and has grown their Hispanic Ministry tremendously. His work feeds the Church as well as the people that he serves.
*This article was included in the Fall 2019 edition of Virginia Theological Seminary's magazine.
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