The Church is a “Mestizo” Reality

In Peru there’s a saying that goes like this, “el que no tiene de Inga, tiene de Mandinga.” This oft-quoted proverb means, “every Peruvian has either some indigenous or African blood,” and is used to highlight the ethnic and racial diversity found in the South American country where I served as an LCMS missionary for 5 years.

The mestizaje (Spanish for mixture) of races, ethnicities, and languages resulting from the conquest and colonization of Latin America is an important part of Latin American and US Hispanic identity.

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This week’s photo was taken at Concordia Seminary’s 25th Annual Theological Symposium, which centered on the theme, “Faithful Witness to God’s Story in the World Around Us: Bringing a Unique Perspective to Common Human Experiences.” My favorite plenary was a presentation entitled, “Faithful Witness in Marginality and Hospitality,” during which Dr. Leopoldo Sanchez offered the profound insight that, “the Church is a mestizo reality.”

Dr. Sanchez, as part of his admonishment to the Church to listen and learn from those on the margins, directed our attention to the “mestizaje” (or in-between-ness of living between two cultures) of US Latinos.

The Church itself is a mestizaje of ethnicities, races, languages that lives on the margins. Who better for the Church (especially the more ethnically homogenous portion of it) to learn from, than from our brothers and sisters that know and understand this reality so well?

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