Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon kicks off Nuevo Amanecer

By Shireen Korkzan
Posted Jun 4, 2024

Participants at Nuevo Amanecer, taking place June 3-6, 2024, at Kanuga Conference and Retreat Center, took an informal group photo with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry before the start of the June 3 opening worship service.

[Episcopal News Service — Hendersonville, North Carolina] “If it’s not about love,” Presiding Bishop Michael Curry said, “it’s not about God.”

“Live your life so that when children see you, they see something about the love of God,” Curry preached during the June 3 opening worship service of Nuevo Amanecer, a churchwide conference that celebrates and supports Latino ministries in The Episcopal Church.

Three hundred Latino Episcopalians are gathering June 3-6 at Kanuga Conference and Retreat Center here, for the popular conference that’s been hosted biennially by The Episcopal Church’s Latino/Hispanic Ministries since 2008. This year’s theme is “Sembrando Amor y Esperanza,” or “Sowing Love and Hope,” which Curry reflected on in his sermon.

“Love God; love your neighbor; love yourself,” Curry said, as Samuel Borbón, international and voluntary relationship manager at Church Pension Group, interpreted his words in Spanish.

“For me, worship is the most important part of Nuevo Amanecer because it’s where all the people make connections and share their love of Christ and the things they have in common,” Nolman Bonilla, who heads up hospitality at the conference and who is a young adult vestry member at Cathedral Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, told Episcopal News Service. “I loved Bishop Curry’s message about loving our neighbors as we love God.”

Nuevo Amanecer, meaning “new dawn” in Spanish, includes training for church leadership and formation, as well as information about Latino ministries in The Episcopal Church and special activities for young adults and children. All programming is bilingual. The conference is also a networking and discipleship opportunity for Latinos, who make up about 2% of the church.

“The church is only authentically the church when it’s truly catholic, and by truly catholic, I mean universal. We are not truly catholic unless all of us are represented,” Curry told ENS in an interview. “Whether it’s Latino ministries, Black ministries, Asiamerican ministries or Indigenous ministries, those aren’t add-ons. They’re the church seeking to be itself, a universal community of people who’ve committed to following and continuing the faith of the apostles.”

On June 4, the conference’s first full day began with a plenary hosted by House of Deputies President Julia Ayala-Harris. Participants then broke up into smaller groups for various workshops and plenaries addressing topics ranging from bilingual church music to church planting. The itinerary includes some time for participants to enjoy the many indoor and outdoor activities offered at Kanuga, such as swimming, kayaking and fitness classes. The day will conclude with a liturgy of healing and forgiveness.

Nuevo Amanecer 2024 is taking place June 3-6 at Kanuga Conference and Retreat Center in Hendersonville, North Carolina. Photo: Shireen Korkzan

“Nuevo Amanecer is important because it creates a sense of belonging for Latino ministry. It’s so beautiful when we get together here to connect and share our spirituality, to see that we are growing in The Episcopal Church,” Guadalupe Moriel-Guillén told ENS. Her husband, the Rev. Anthony Guillén, is the church’s Latino/Hispanic Ministries’ missioner.

On June 5, the Very Rev. Miguelina Howell, dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Hartford, Connecticut, will host a listening session addressing the future of the Episcopal Coalition for Racial Equity & Justice. Church Pension Group staff will also give a presentation. The day will conclude with a festival embracing Latino cultures. Nuevo Amanecer will end the following day with more workshops and closing remarks.

Nuevo Amanecer’s programming shows that “there is so much more to Latino ministries than just having bilingual services,” said the Rev. Fabian Villalobos, a priest at Christ Episcopal Church in Dallas, Texas, and a member of Nuevo Amanecer’s programming team. “When we embrace all cultures, together we make The Episcopal Church so much richer and more welcoming.”

Curry and Moriel-Guillén both said that even though The Episcopal Church’s membership is shrinking on paper, the numbers don’t tell the full story. Instead, they said, the church’s demographics are changing, as reflected in Nuevo Amanecer’s popularity. When the conference switched to a virtual format in 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, attendance nearly doubled to about 700 people worldwide.

“Every Nuevo Amanecer feels like a family reunion, but a lot of new people also join every time,” Moriel-Guillén said. “It is important to make the new people feel at home and make them a part of our extended family.”

Curry told ENS that all aspects of the church’s changing demographics should be embraced, including the cultural traditions Latinos bring with them, such as the Spanish language and Marian devotion, particularly Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico.

“I may not be bilingual, but I can overcome it because when spirit touches spirit, language doesn’t matter. When spirit touches spirit, there’s a connection,” he said. “We sometimes forget that veneration and love of the Blessed Virgin Mary is very much a part of the Anglo-Catholic tradition. Anglicanism has a variety of strains, and that kind of liturgical and sacramental diversity reflects different ways that people can come into a relationship with the living God. The Holy Spirit doesn’t have just one pathway.”

Latino/Hispanic Ministries will livestream online worship and keynote presentations through its Facebook page.

-Shireen Korkzan is a reporter and assistant editor for Episcopal News Service based in northern Indiana. She can be reached at skorkzan@episcopalchurch.org.


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