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‘A Place at the Table’ for young Hispanic, African and Asian students

Presbyterian racial-ethnic school in Texas prepares Christian leaders for the world

by Paul Seebeck | Presbyterian News Service

KINGSVILLE, Texas – Presbyterian Pan American School President Doug Dalglish remembers a trip he took in 2016 to Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary — when he experienced again how the school he serves is preparing young Christian leaders (grades 9–12) for the whole world.

“It just so happened there was a Hispanic Leaders Conference when we were there,” he says, “and one of former students was preaching at that event.”

Seeing fellow Pan Am graduate Jasiel Herandez, in his middle year of seminary, preparing to be a minister of Word and sacrament was impressive for students on that trip.

“I really liked that experience,” says Pan Am senior Abigail Varela. “Since that trip, I’ve been praying and asking God about my future. Maybe I’m going to become a missionary.”

“Coming to Pan Am opened a lot of doors for my future,” adds another senior David Angulo. “I’m thinking I want to go to seminary after college to study theology and maybe become a pastor here or in my home country of Mexico.”

Hernandez, also from Mexico, says seeing the current Pan Am students reminded him of how he’d been shaped by the school. “You think it’s just high school, right?” he says. “But they really help you build a strong foundation of faith, of friendship, of caring for academics, for other people and for your family as well.”

At Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Hernandez was reunited with his uncle Lemuel Garcia-Arroyo — also a graduate of Presbyterian Pan American School. Both were encouraged to attend the school by their father and grandfather, Juan, who is still a pastor in the National Presbyterian Church in Mexico.

“It was such a joy to me and my family in Mexico when Jasiel said he was discerning a call for ministry,” says Garcia-Arroyo, who until this year served as Austin Seminary’s director of alumni and church relations.

“What I learned at Presbyterian Pan American School is that everybody was child of God, that I belonged, that I was part of something larger.”

Now the associate director of Racial Ethnic & Women’s Ministries in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Garcia-Arroyo says that experience “of belonging” inspires him to this day in ministry. That’s why he is moved to tears every time he sings or hears one of his favorite hymns, “For Everyone Born.”

Watch the following video and hear Garcia-Arroyo sing, “For everyone born, a place at the table, to live without fear, and simply to be. … Yes, God will delight when we are creators of justice, justice and joy.”

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The makeup of Presbyterian Pan American’s student body is more than 78 percent Hispanic, 10 percent African, 10 percent Asian and less than one percent other.

To support Presbyterian-related ethnic schools and colleges, give to the Christmas Joy offering.

 


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