FORT WORTH—The Spanish department at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary (SWBTS), under the direction of Mark McClellan, has been working diligently to equip Hispanics in North America and all over the world. Southwestern celebrated a milestone this month when 124 of the 336 students who graduated at the fall commencement were Hispanic. This goes a long way toward Southwestern’s goal of becoming the premiere theological training institution for Hispanics worldwide.
“It’s a blessing to see what the Lord is doing at Southwestern, and we are very proud of our students and thankful for God’s mercy and grace for this great achievement,” said McClellan, professor of missions and director of Hispanic Programs at Southwestern.
The historic number of Hispanic graduates was preceded by a celebration banquet the night before which gathered Hispanic leaders, many of whom are also students, from all over the world, including Puerto Rico, South America, Mexico and Brazil,
SWBTS President David Dockery congratulated the graduates and acknowledged the leadership of McClellan and Dean Sieberhagen, interim dean of the Roy J. Fish School of Evangelism and Missions.
“We are excited about being able to offer quality theological education, pastoral preparation, and equipping you for ministry, from the certificate program to doctoral work,” Dockery said.
“The work for the Spanish program is very important for the vision of the future at Southwestern. Southwestern is committed to you and we ask for you to renew your commitment to Southwestern. We want you to think of this seminary as your seminary … a place providing Spanish language education not only in Texas but across this country and around the world.”
Dockery said Southwestern has a global emphasis to equip leaders so they can reach the world with the gospel. He asked the Hispanic graduating class to provide feedback so leaders can make the Hispanic program even better.
Notable attendees at the banquet included Bruno Molina, executive director of the National Hispanic Baptist Network, language evangelism associate at the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention, and adjunct professor at the seminary; Daniel R. Sánchez, SWBTS’ distinguish professor emeritus of missions; Terry Coy; and Bill Goff.
Julio Arriola, Send Network SBTC church planting director, recognized the more than 30 church planters present at the event and some of the Send Network Español Champions: Jorge Altieri, the Michigan, Ohio, and Indianapolis regional representative; Esteban Vasquez, associate pastor at Champion Forest, Texas; and Julio Crespo, pastor at Iglesia Bautista Central in Oklahoma City, who opened the event with prayer.
“May the Lord use these graduates and the future ones so that Christ is made known in all nations,” Crespo said.
Martin Manchego, who graduated with a Master of Divinity, said during a time of personal testimony that Southwestern professors “are more interested in the personal growth and well-being of all students than academics, and that alone inspired me and others to study at Southwestern.”
Hispanics are also part of the English-language programs at Southwestern. They are contributing to the advancement of the gospel and guiding the new generation of English-speaking Hispanics into fruitful ministry.
Among them is Hugo Encorrada, a father of six children, two of whom are students at Texas Baptist College. Encorrada graduated from SWBTS’ School of Music and will continue his education at Southwestern to earn a Ph.D from the same.
The Spanish Program at Southwestern is accepting students for the Master of Theological Studies in Portuguese, starting in January of 2024.