This Independence Day, I'm going to celebrate the Brown that makes America Great. William H. Lamar IV, a preacher from Hyattsville, MD reminded people a few years ago via a Huffpost article that we actually have the right not to celebrate on July 4th. In it he asked: "How can I celebrate liberty with bondage — economic bondage, educational bondage, political bondage, health care bondage, and religious bondage — all around me?"
So instead I am opting to celebrate the Brown people among us who are fighting the good fight. Standing up and raising their voice through various mediums to continue to advocate for all people in America. Perhaps you know some of them, perhaps not, but would you join me in sharing a thank you to them for what they do, where they do it and for whom they do it for? I know most of the people on this list and have been blessed to work with, under or alongside many of them. By no means is this an exhaustive list and I realize that so don't get crazy. I would just love for you to know them. I get it when people say "I hate lists" because inevitably someone gets left out. I did leave out folks that I think are famous - meaning get alot of exposure and is usually the person everyone goes to as "the" person that speaks for "all brown evangelical people". No one really does. There are so many of us doing great things so I want to showcase the ones that usually do not have a light shone on them. The whole purpose of this list is to help my friends know some of my other friends, mentors or people I simply admire.
However, if you know of others that you feel is doing great things, I would love for you to comment and let me know who they are. It's just a way for more people to know of others they may not have heard about and maybe even support. We good? Ladies and Gents, I present to you my Just Us League List. Please do share this list so your friends can know these folks too.
The Frontrunners (They Laid the Foundation)
Rev. Dr. Raymond Rivera
Rev. Ray founded the Latino Pastoral Action Center (LPAC) in 1992, which started as a division of the Manhattan-based NYC Mission Society, the city’s oldest and largest social service agency. He's the author of the book Liberty to the Captives: Our Call to Minister in a Captive World and is the Board Chairman of the National Latino Evangelical Coaliton (NaLEC). He is beloved in the urban ministry community for his contributions to field and his model of holistic ministry. He was my boss for 10 years and I consider him one of my Spiritual Dads and mentor in the work of justice.
Rev. Cortes founded Esperanza in Philadelphia in 1987 after seeing the prevalence of poverty, addiction, and homelessness among the Hispanic community in Hunting Park. The goal of Esperanza is to strengthen Philadelphia’s Hispanic community through economic, social, and educational development programs — for example, one-on-one housing counseling, a legal service for low-income immigrants that has helped naturalize 90 new American citizens, and a job training program that serves 2,500 welfare recipients each year.
Noel leads the charge at the Christian Community Development Association (CCDA). He has worked in full-time ministry in Latino urban communities since 1982, serving in youth ministry, church planting, advocacy, and community development in San Francisco, San Jose, and Chicago. Noel was the founding pastor of Chicago’s La Villita Community Church. He has a deep passion to serve and invest in the lives of leaders committed to serving the poor. Noel is the coauthor of A Heart for the Community and New Models for Urban and Suburban Ministry and has contributed to various other books and publications including Deep Justice in a Broken World, A Heart for the City, and Crazy Enough to Care. He and his wife, Marianne, have three children and make their home in the barrio of La Villita in Chicago. Update: Noel no longer serves as CCDA Executive Director but we know that his next step will include being a blessing in the area of community development.
Practitioners & Pastors (Continuing the Work)
Rev. Dr. Gabriel & Pastor Jeannette Salguero
Rev. Gabriel Salguero and his wife, Rev. Jeanette Salguero, are senior associate pastors at Calvario City Church in the Orlando, FL area. Rev. Gabriel Salguero is the founder of the National Latino Evangelical Coalition (NaLEC) which offers an important leadership voice for the close to 8 million Latino evangelical in our country. Rev Dr. Gabriel Salguero is a graduate of Rutgers University with a B.A. in History and Spanish. A member of Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society. He also has an M.Div (magna cum laude) from New Brunswick Theological Seminary and did PhD work in Christian Social Ethics at Union Theological Seminary in New York. Salguero also received a Doctor in Divinity (honoris causa) from Eastern Nazarene College in Massachusetts.
Lisa Trevino Cummins
Lisa founded Urban Strategies out of her desire to make a difference within communities in need.
In 2001, Lisa was recruited to help launch the White House Faith and Community-Based Initiative. During her two-year tenure, Lisa was instrumental in creating initiatives that welcomed small community and faith-based organizations, advocated for increased accountability of federal resources, and encouraged the removal of barriers that prevent new entrants into the federal funding stream. Since leaving the White House, Lisa has been a catalyst for several initiatives that have resulted in more than $40 million in new programming primarily focused on the Latino community.
Lisa earned her BS in Accounting from Trinity University San Antonio and her MBA from University of Texas in San Antonio. She currently serves on the boards of the Christian Community Development Association, the Seed Company, World Vision, and the Latino Advisory Group for the Campaign to Prevent Unwanted and Teen Pregnancies. Lisa, her husband, and their three children reside in the Washington, DC area
Minerva Garza Carcaño
Bishop Minerva is the first Hispanic woman to be elected to the episcopacy of The United Methodist Church (UMC), The second-largest Protestant denomination in the United States. She also serves as the leader of the United Methodist Church's Immigration Task Force.
Sandra Maria Van Opstal
Sandra is a second-generation Latina, pastors at Grace and Peace Community on the west-side of Chicago. She is a preacher, liturgist and activist who re-imagining the intersection of worship and justice.
She's worked with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, mobilizing thousands of college students for God’s mission of reconciliation and justice in the world.
Sandra’s influence has also reached many others through her leadership and preaching on topics such of worship and formation, justice, racial identity and reconciliation, and global mission. Sandra serves as a board member for Evangelicals for Justice and the Christian Community Development Association. Sandra holds a Masters of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Illinois and has been published in multiple journals. She has authored God’s Graffiti Devotional, Still Evangelical, The Mission of Worship and The Next Worship. She is married to Karl and has one son, Justo.
Rev. Dr. Michael Carrion
Michael Carrion serves as the Senior Pastor and General Overseer of the Promised Land Covenant Churches located in the North and South Bronx. He serves as the founding Chairman and Superintendent of the Bronx Academy of Promise K-8 Charter School in the Mott Haven section of the South Bronx; Dr. Carrion also serves as the Regional Coach for Church Planting and Development for the East Coast Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church. His family consists of his wife, Elizabeth, five children, three grandchildren and three pitbulls. Pastor Mike resides in the Bronx.
Theologians, Educators & Thought Leaders (Molding Minds)
Elizabeth Conde Frazier
Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Conde-Frazier was the Academic Dean and Vice President of Education at Esperanza College of Eastern University until recently. This month, Asociación para la Educación Teológica Hispana (AETH) announced that Dr. Conde Frazier will be serving as their Coordinator of Theological Institute Relations. Previously she was a professor of religious education at the Claremont School of Theology and taught Hispanic Latino/a theology at the Latin American Bible Institute. She was also founder of the Orlando E. Costas Hispanic and Latin American Ministries Program at Andover Newton Theological School where she developed programs for ministers and lay leaders including youth. She is a mentor to Latino/a scholars and leaders of the church and has written in the areas of multicultural education, practical theology, theological education, Christian higher education in the urban setting, Participatory action research, the spirituality of the scholar and Evangélica theology. She has been a mentor to me personally and was the first to open the door of opportunity to me in academic writing. She continues to push me. She's like the big sister I never had and I appreciate her immensely.
Joanne Solis Walker
Rev. Dr. Joanne is an ordained minister of The Wesleyan Church in the Florida District and serves as Assistant Dean Global Theological Education at Wesley Seminary at Indiana Wesleyan University, where she also teaches as an adjunct professor. Dr. Solis-Walker is committed to the formation of Hispanic-Latino/Latina pastors and leaders. She also earned a Ph.D. in organizational leadership and development from Regent University, holds a Master of Divinity with a focus on pastoral studies/theology from Asbury Theological Seminary and a bachelor’s degree in Psychology-Industrial Psychology from the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico.She is married to Rev. Dan Walker and they have a miracle daughter, Adriana Nicole. The Walkers recently relocated to Indiana from Florida.
Rev. Alexia does so much I was not sure which category she fit best! I was recently introduced to her due to my own work for my dissertation and she was so willing to share her work. Rev. Alexia Salvatierra is the author with Dr. Peter Heltzel of “Faith-Rooted Organizing: Mobilizing the Church in Service to the World” (Intervarsity Press) and the founder of the Faith-Rooted Organizing UnNetwork.. She is a Lutheran Pastor with over 35 years of experience in community ministry, including church-based service and community development programs, congregational and community organizing, and legislative advocacy.
Dr. Robert Chao Romero
A few months ago in researching for my dissertation I came across this scholar's book, Jesus for Revolutionaries. Then last month, my former boss, spiritual dad and mentor actually met him at a conference and told me I need to speak to him. I reached out and he was so down to earth. He's not only a scholar but a practitioner with a new non-traditional church based out of Jesus for Revolutionaries book.
With a Mexican father from Chihuahua and a Chinese immigrant mother from Hubei in central China, Romero’s dual cultural heritage serves as the basis for his academic studies. His research examines Asian immigration to Latin America, as well as the large population of “Asian-Latinos” in the United States. His first book, The Chinese in Mexico, 1882-1940 (2010), tells the forgotten history of the Chinese community in Mexico. The Chinese in Mexico received the Latina/o Studies Section Book Award from the Latin American Studies Association. Drawing upon his background as attorney, Romero’s second area of research examines the legal history of Chicano/Latino segregation as well as immigration law and policy. His most recent research explores the role of spirituality in Chicana/o social activism. He recently wrote a book to be published on the Brown Church and we are excited about what the church at large will learn about Latinos and our role in church and society.
Romero received his J. D. from UC Berkeley and his Ph.D. in Latin American history from UCLA.
Rev. Dr. Jules A. Martinez-Olivieri has a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. He has five years of academic teaching experience and 14 years of pastoral ministry experience in the USA and Puerto Rico.
Dr. Martinez served as Assistant Professor of Theology at the Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico. He is an Adjunct Professor of Religion and Theology at the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico, the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Nyack Theological Seminary, and Seminario Teológico Centroamericano (SETECA) in Guatemala. Among his recent publications is A Visible Witness: Christology, Liberation and Participation in Latin American Protestant Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2016. He blogs over at Theodrama.com.
Juliany González Nieves
Juliany is an Puerto Rican evangélica fourth-year M.Div. student at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, IL. Her interests include systematic theology, Majority World theologies, and discipleship. She is a blogger and I know we will see much more from this wise Latina.
Young Bloods - a new emerging force
Rev. Enid Almanzar
Enid Almanzar is the director of scripture engagement at American Bible Society, a 200-year-old ministry that works to make the Bible available and alive for people in the most difficult circumstances around the world. She recently was installed as the Assistant Pastor of Civic Engagement at my home church in NYC, Primitive Christian Church. Rev. Enid lives in New Jersey with her husband Samuel and two children.
Pastor Dan Prada (Cuban Costa Rican) is a local South Florida radical pastor preaching truth from the pulpit of Heartway Church in Davie Fl. He's sharing on topics in ways that SoFlo has never seen. I am a full-fledged fan of this young pastor who is authentic, transparent and is simply about Jesus and Justice (my two favs). A church filled with millennials, he is a pastor on his way to major impact in the Broward county area and beyond. He graduated from Palm Beach Atlantic University with a Bachelor of Arts in Ministry Leadership, and from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity. He has served in a multitude of ministerial capacities over the years, including several pastoral and chaplaincy positions in both mega-churches and non-profit organizations. Pastor Danny is also in the process of working towards his Doctor of Ministry degree at Fuller Theological Seminary. Update: I recently decided to make this my home church in Florida and look forward to serving here as it grows in its development as a JUST church.
David Rosa Jr.
I was introduced to Pastor David (a fellow Boricua) by a mutual friend and when I saw what he was doing in his church, I knew he would shake the foundations of Hollywood. David knows the streets because he came from the streets. Drugs, violence and poverty is whee he says his story began and although he dropped out of school in the 7th grade, he eventually returned to finish and be trained as a church planter. With his drive to #PoundTheConcrete and his commitment to justice, I am sure Hollywood and surrounding areas will be positively impacted for the Kingdom.
I am always proud when my fellow Brown brothers and sisters believe for great things and attempt great things for God. It isn't easy doing what any of these folks do, so when possible, support their efforts. Go to a special event, show up on a Sunday and say hi, donate to a cause. While there are many working for the kingdom, sometimes we need to take a moment and support our own. We simply do not do that enough. Sometimes it even feels like JUST US. So... pray for them, invest in them, or join them. But whatever you do, don't ignore them.