BELL GARDENS, CA (March 30, 2010) – Centro Hispano de Estudios Teológicos (CHET), which has rented space since its founding in 1989, will soon have a permanent home in Compton, says President Ed Delgado.
Moving the Covenant’s Hispanic training center will enable the school to further its mission of providing theological education to Spanish-speaking men and women who do not have access to traditional ministerial formation schools, Delgado says. Barriers to access at traditional schools include language, cost, distance, and upheaval in home countries.
“The new site will provide excellent classroom facilities and will allow for a low-cost operations/learning center to be maintained for CHET’s foreseeable future,” Delgado says. Classes could begin at the new campus this fall. The accompanying photo shows one of the current classes in session.
Since the school was formed in partnership with North Park University, CHET has grown from 25 students to more than 500, has graduated more than 800 students, and has served more than 5,300 individuals, Delgado says. From the beginning, the school has rented space from Primera Iglesia del Pacto in Bell Gardens.
CHET students and graduates serve as pastors, church planters, missionaries, lay counselors and trained laity in Evangelical Covenant churches as well as other evangelical churches throughout the United States, Latin America and beyond. The school also operates several satellite campuses and offers online courses.
Compton is “literally at the heart” of Los Angeles County, says Delgado. He notes that the metropolitan area is home to 4.7 million Hispanics – the largest population in the United States.
“Locating in Compton will also provide CHET students a wonderful laboratory for ongoing contextual ministry in the midst of a changing demographic,” Delgado says. “While neighborhoods throughout our country and world often make such transitions, churches have found this hard to do. By participating in such a community transition, CHET can become a model for other Covenant ministries.”
CHET also will be able to help Compton’s “rebirthing” through specific offerings on-site to equip young leaders and enhance family life in the community, Delgado says.
The Pacific Southwest Conference and the Evangelical Covenant Church own the property at 1005 E. Palmer, formerly home to Grace Covenant Church of Compton.
Delgado says the property will need to be remodeled at a potential cost of $180,000.
Leaders hope that at least $150,000 of the costs will be raised through individual and church donors. Using volunteer work teams, supplies, and services also will help reduce funding needs, he adds.
CHET has a construction loan from National Covenant Properties to bridge between now and when funds come in, says Delgado. “But we definitely need to pay off that loan immediately as CHET cannot operate with a large mortgage . . . or even a small one.”
The school and Bell Gardens church were started with seed money from the sale of First Covenant Church of Los Angeles, which was eager to help birth the ministries at the time that church closed. “CHET, from its birth, is the result of faithful people asking the bigger question of God, “How can we advance the kingdom?”
Delgado also credits current conference leadership for advancing the new opportunity. “This would not be possible without the vision, support, guidance and shepherding by conference Superintendent Evelyn Johnson,” Delgado says.