Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of five columns written by Ron Byler, Mennonite Central Committee U.S. executive director, to mark 100 […]
National Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15-Oct. 15. During this month, we’ll be posting snapshots of Latino/a leaders from across the Mennonite church.
Pictured here: José Ortiz and Juan (John) Ventura. Ortiz, a Mennonite pastor in both Puerto Rico and the United States, served as the associate secretary of Latin Concerns and a leader of the Concilio Nacional de Iglesias Menonitas Hispanas from 1974-1982. He focused on evangelism and church growth, and led efforts to ensure that Hispanic Mennonite churches were led by Latino pastors. Under his leadership, Latino/a membership in the Mennonite church in the United States and Canada grew and a Spanish language publication, Ecos Menonitas, flourished.
John Ventura was a Mennonite pastor in Denver who served as an advocate for Spanish-language ministries across the Mennonite Church USA. When the former Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities reduced funding for Spanish-language ministries in Colorado, he went to bat for Spanish-language congregations. He also was a member of the Urban Racial Coalition, a Mennonite Board of Missions organization that brought together African-American and Latino/a leaders.
To learn more about the work of Ortiz, Ventura and other Mennonites, read Felipe Hinojosa’s book, Latino Mennonites: Civil Rights, Faith & Evangelical Culture.
Photo credit: Mennonite Board of Missions Photographs, 1971-1995. IV-10-007.3 Drawer 2 Folder 46. Mennonite Church USA Archives – Goshen. Goshen, Indiana.
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