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Iglesia El Centro, the first Spanish-speaking congregation to join the Mountain States Mennonite Conference (MSMC) in nearly half a century, was received into the conference during its annual assembly at La Junta, Colorado, on 4 August 2012. The El Centro congregation began as a call to Jaime and Patricia Lazaro and their children Caleb, Daniela, and Myriam when they were living in Los Angeles, California in 2008. The Lazaros had emigrated from Peru to the United States more than a dozen years previously. Through the process of United States naturalization they found that the gifts of the immigrant community had become a passion and building blocks for the new congregation. The congregation in Colorado Springs gradually grew under the co-pastoral leadership of Jaime Lazaro, Caleb Lazaro, and Wilmer Villacorta, a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary’s campus in Colorado Springs.

During a weekend conference featuring Irish theologian Peter Rollins at the First Mennonite Church of Denver (FMC) in October 2010, Caleb Lazaro developed friendships and contacts with several Mennonites, including Tory Doerksen, FMC’s Pastor for Child and Youth Faith Formation, and Dayvid Graybill, who has served as interim/intentional pastor for several MSMC churches and is heading Another Way ministry in Denver. The contacts blossomed into conversations about the mutual emphases of peace, justice, and discipleship of Iglesia El Centro and MSMC.

The conversations expanded to include leadership at Iglesia El Centro and Beth-El Mennonite Church in Colorado Springs. With encouragement from the MSMC SEED Project, a group commissioned to identify and encourage emerging places of spiritual vitality and growth, the relationship developed into an invitation to use the Beth-El church facility for Sunday afternoon worship services.  

In 2012 about 60 persons attended Iglesia El Centro weekly worship services under the pastoral direction of Jaime Lazaro. The majority of the congregation’s attendees were immigrants from Latin America, some of whom were undocumented. In March 2012 Caleb Lazaro began a study leave at Bethel College in North Newton, Kansas, that evolved into his becoming an unofficial scholar-in-residence at the college for six months while taking courses in peace and religious studies. Deciding to stay at Bethel, Lazaro became the institution’s Warkentin Court Residence Director and Multicultural Student Advisor effective 1 June 2012.

Bibliography

Gingerich, Ken. "Spanish Church Finds Kindred Spirit in Conference." Mennonite World Review (20 August 2012): 14.

Zuercher, Melanie. "Bethel College News: New Bethel RD/Advisor Came for a Study Leave, Decided to Stay." 30 April 2012. Web. 28 August 2012. http://www.bethelks.edu/bc/news_publications/news/bc/index.php/2012/04/30/new-bethel-rd-advisor-came-for-a-study-leave-decided-to-stay

Zuercher, Melanie. "Young Pastor’s Journey Led Through Zen Buddhism to Anabaptism." 19 January 2012. Web. 28 August 2012. http://m.bethelks.edu/news/2012/post/2855/

Additional Information

Address: 4625 Ranch Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80918

Phone: 719-216-5136

Website: Iglesia El Centro

Denominational Affiliations:

Mountain States Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA


Author(s) Harlan Unrau
Date Published September 2012


Cite This Article

MLA style

Unrau, Harlan. "Iglesia El Centro (Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. September 2012. Web. 25 Apr 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Iglesia_El_Centro_(Colorado_Springs,_Colorado,_USA)&oldid=82364.

APA style

Unrau, Harlan. (September 2012). Iglesia El Centro (Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 April 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Iglesia_El_Centro_(Colorado_Springs,_Colorado,_USA)&oldid=82364.




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