By Stan Friedman
COMPTON, CA (December 11, 2014) — A total of 152 students graduated from Centro Hispano de Estudios Teológicos (CHET) at the First Baptist Church of Huntington Park on Saturday. The school is the Covenant ministry training center for Spanish speakers.
The school also celebrated its 25th anniversary, and the keynote speaker was Lyle Stokes, who has been involved with CHET since its founding. He served as pastor of Primera Iglesia del Pacto Evangelico of Bell Gardens, where the school was located before moving to Compton.
The new Lyle Stokes and Rosie Stokes Servant Leadership Scholarship was awarded to its first two recipients. Seventy-five percent of the scholarship goes to the recipient to help pay their classes and the other 25 percent is given to the outreach foundation and program of their choice.
The first recipient was Margarita Monsalve, pastor of the Covenant congregation Navegando Con Jesus (Navigating with Jesus) located in Torrance, California. Ed Delgado, CHET president, noted Monsalve’s passion to serve unaccompanied children fleeing violence in Central America.
The second scholarship was awarded to Loida Ortiz, a member of the Pacto Fuente de Vida, a church plant in Riverside, California. Loida is a speech therapist for children with special needs. “Because of her community work and desire to share the gospel, Loida is an example and leader for those that surround her,” Delgado said.
The Eldon and Opal Johnson Scholarship was awarded to church planter Manuel Fernando Martinez and wife, Celia. Manuel completed his Bachelor of Ministry degree, and Celia has completed the pre-ministerial program and is enrolled in the CHET lay family counseling program.
CHET has provided opportunities that many students once believed were never possible, Delgado said. Isaac Scott, who completed the three-year Lay Family Counseling program applied to be a chaplain at a large hospital but figured he had little chance of getting the job because there were other applicants with more experience as well as master’s or doctoral degrees. With tears in his eyes, he told the gathering that he has been employed to be a chaplain at two hospitals.
Covenant denominational leaders attended ceremonies to honor the graduates and the school’s milestone.
“It was so wonderful to hear words of witness and to see the level of commitment among the students to serve Jesus Christ,” said Mark Stromberg, superintendent of the Northwest Conference. “God is working in and through his people, and CHET is playing a part in this movement.”
Evelyn Johnson, interim executive minister of Make and Deepen Disciples—which includes what once was the Department of Christian Formation and Women Ministries—shared, “The stories of current and former students inspired and encouraged me. God’s movement among Latinos is very visible, and CHET’s role in forming leaders is noteworthy.”
Wayne Carlson noted the role that First Covenant Church of Los Angeles played when it sold its building and contributed $1 million to the startup and operational costs of CHET. “The anniversary and graduations were testimonies to the vision of the school’s founders, generosity of First Covenant Church. “CHET is essential to the training, equipping and empowerment of Latino pastors and lay leaders for ministry in the ECC and the wider church.”