Improving leadership in the Methodist Church in Brazil and strengthening connections and practical activities between organizations in the Portuguese and Spanish-speaking areas of Latin America are among the top goals for the leader of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s (GBHEM) Regional Hub for Leadership, Education and Development (LEaD) in Brazil.
The Rev. Dr. Paulo Roberto Garcia, executive director of the LEaD Hub in Brazil, said he believes the hub is a key strategic element for accomplishing these goals. Based in São Paulo, it is one of 10 global hubs GBHEM has established to advance the agency’s ongoing work around the world to support the formation and development of leaders for the global church.
“The Latin America and Caribbean Area has its own way to reflect theology, mission development of churches and practical theology,” said Garcia, a Methodist pastor and theology professor at Universidade Metodista de São Paulo (Methodist University of São Paulo). “Taking the contexts, theological resources, academic community and Methodist Churches, there is an incredible opportunity for leadership development and theological reflection in many different and important areas, which demands dialogue and critical thinking with representatives from each region. That is why we understand connection is a strategic key for the developments that will contribute to future generations of leaders.”
To accomplish its goals, Garcia said the hub in Brazil will specifically work to:
- Prioritize the Latin American Association for Methodist Education Institutions (ALAIME) as a space for articulation and a sharing environment in Latin America
- Strengthen the chaplaincy leadership in Brazil as part of GBHEM’s Global Chaplaincy program
- Strengthen theological education leadership by creating a sharing network of resources from theological formation centers in Latin America and the United States
- Support empowerment opportunities for Methodist clergy leadership in Portuguese-speaking communities
“A top priority will be to increase connections among GBHEM and a network of educational organizations in Brazil that work with more than 30,000 children, youth and young adults,” Garcia said. The network consists of research universities, teaching universities, high schools and theological institutions.
“One of our first projects will be to strengthen the presence of those institutions in ALAIME and strengthening the dialogues with the Latin American Partnership,” Garcia said. “To make all of this viable, we are already in dialogue with the Methodist Education Network, and our GBHEM LEaD hub will support their participation in the ALAIME Assembly that will be held in Chile.”
To implement GBHEM’s program on Global Chaplaincy in the Latin American context, the hub plans to support empowerment leadership incentives for clergy and laity in campus ministries, including the use of distance learning resources and other opportunities, by partnering with the Spanish-speaking LEaD hub based in Argentina.
Established in 2008, the hub located in Brazil was the first regional office created by GBHEM. It was instrumental in supporting the development of theological education in Portuguese-speaking Africa by means of the SOL-Africa program, which provided training in Angola and Mozambique. The hub is also supporting two strategic actions to meet local needs in Panamá and Brazil. In Panamá, the Methodist School of Theology in São Paulo, in partnership with the Latin American Methodist Council of Churches (CIEMAL), is developing and implementing a basic theological course to equip clergy and lay leaders from the Methodist Church in Panamá for leadership opportunities.
In Brazil, a project led by the theology school and GBHEM’s program on Hispanic/Latino(a)ministries provides an opportunity for Methodist candidates for ordained ministry from across the country to spend a weekend to reflect on their call based on the three emphases of listening, discerning and responding. The next annual Programa de Orientacão Vocacional (POV) event, which is similar to the Exploration events held in the United States, will be held in September 2018.
Assisting Garcia in the LEaD Hub in Latin America and the Caribbean – Portuguese Speaking Area is Demétrio Soares, an advisor for international relations at the Methodist University of São Paulo’s School of Theology.
(The LEaD Hubs and their executive directors are an integral part of GBHEM’s global education strategy, positioning the agency to provide leadership development along with education and ministry resources in 10 geographic areas supported by GBHEM. The executive directors reside in these areas and know the church, people, culture, and languages in their respective contexts. They help GBHEM stay in contact with its constituents, learn from them, and respond to their needs more effectively.
About GBHEM: As the leadership development agency of The United Methodist Church, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry’s mission is to build capacity for United Methodist lay and clergy leaders to discover, claim and flourish in Christ’s calling in their lives, by creating connections and providing resources to aid in recruitment, education, professional development and spiritual formation. Every elder, deacon and licensed local pastor benefits from our training and candidacy programs. Many young adults find help in clarifying their vocation and God’s call in their lives through our leadership and discernment programs. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook: @GBHEM.