TAC Develops Training Partnership with Bolivian Pastors
A group of Bolivian Methodist pastors came to
Moody Memorial UMC and its members hosted the group and provided facilities while serving in an advisory capacity to the project. Members of Friendswood UMC, Christ UMC (
Director of Missional Excellence, Rev. Diane McGehee said the initial idea came from the Bolivian community. “A number of conference churches have had a relationship with
Rev. B.T. Williamson and Rev. Rick Goodrich visited
“What we are developing is a culturally-sensitive training program with Rev. Dr. Ted Smith of the
Dr. Ted Smith described the project as a “multi-phase training process to provide knowledge and skill to Methodist Bolivian pastors about pastoral care ministry to their parishioners who face emergency situations.”
He added that “the content of the training included biblical and theological themes which were implied in the pastoral care concepts themselves. Of course, attention was also given to the practical applications of those concepts for a variety of pastoral settings.”
The sessions included topics such as pastoral identity; identifying and responding to pastoral crises; visiting the ill; ministry to the dying and bereaved and addressing abuse.
“[We] …covered a range of different pastoral encounters – from minor toward more crisis oriented, including hospitalization… bereavement… suicide… and violence,” Smith continued.
Much of the discussion also revolved around culturally appropriate responses and was designed to help participants gain a deeper understanding in determining what might be appropriate in a given situation.
“We’re learning about their culture and about ways we need to be sensitive to the application of Biblical principles and pastoral care approaches in different cultures,” said Rev. McGehee.
She noted that the conference has involved local Hispanic leadership in the project and is discerning how to use the training model in other developing communities in
“You can’t apply the material in the same way in any community because each community has different cultural issues to which we need to be sensitive,” McGehee added. “So with this pilot Bolivian program, we are learning from them about cultural sensitivity in developing training for pastoral care so that we can better apply it -- not only in marginalized, economically impacted rural communities, but in urban areas as well.”
Team member Rev. Arturo Cadar, associate pastor at Friendswood UMC, currently leads one of the largest Hispanic congregations in the conference.
“Part of my role is to help serve as a translator – not only of language but also of culture. I can relate more to the culture than anyone else in the group to a certain degree,” said Cadar, who has lived and worked in
“They still deal with quite a bit of indigenous rituals and customs that we don’t have to deal with here. In essence, it becomes tougher for them to present a solid gospel. It’s hard to present and harder for people to adopt.”
The Bolivian pastoral care project will consist of four modules. Developing the first module is estimated to take about a year. The recent training of pastors was step one.
“They are going to be facilitators for training clergy and lay persons in
The next step will be a webinar that will link teachers in the Texas Conference with pastors and laity in
“One of the exciting things about this is fine-tuning our capabilities to conduct training and have interaction through web technologies [to meet the needs of] a larger group of pastors and laity,” McGehee said.
Prior to the webinar, the Bolivian facilitators will prepare materials for their pastors to study and do some reflection based on materials that were covered while they were here, along with additional materials that they supply.
Training materials are being collaboratively developed. Perkins School of Theology has been developing pastoral care resources in Spanish, so with assistance from some of its faculty, a bibliography of additional materials is being created.
A further step in Module I will occur in June 2011, when Dr. Smith and others from the TAC will travel to