(Photo: Facebook/Iglesia de Dios Central de San Antonio)
A Texas pastor encouraged his Hispanic congregation earlier this month to increase their Bible reading time, saying that Bible illiteracy is not only a common issue among Christians in general, but also prevalent in the Latino community.
The Rev. Dr. Jose Daniel Montañez's efforts are part of the "Month of the Bible" campaign, or ¡Saborea la Biblia! plan, an initiative launched by The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and the American Bible Society to fight Bible illiteracy among Hispanics.
"I heard about the 'Hispanic America: Faith, Values and Priorities' study from the American Bible Society and realized that some of the statistics about Hispanics not engaging with the Bible resounded clearly and accurately in what I was seeing in my local congregation," Montañez said.
According to the study conducted by Barna Hispanics, 87 percent of Hispanics own a Bible, but only eight percent read it regularly or allow it to inform their worldview, but Montañez plans to do his part to lower that statistic.
"I heard about what American Bible Society was doing to help with the ¡Saborea la Biblia! plan and materials and I thought this was a great opportunity to have the congregation focus on more engagement with the Bible. We have also spread the word and helped about eight other churches in the San Antonio area to join ¡Saborea la Biblia!," said Montañez, pastor of Central Church of God in San Antonio, Texas.
To do his part, Montañez said his congregation is engaged in several activities while he uses the resources provided by campaign organizers to enhance his sermons this month. In addition, both the NHCLC and American Bible Society have created online downloadable Bible literacy resources, available at no cost to participating churches, including a pastor's packet, coordinator's manual, daily Bible reading planner, and Bible bookmarks, available in Spanish.
"We are also using the seven day devotional. I first shared this with the leadership team during the first week of the month, then the leadership team shared this with their leaders and now during the third week, it is being shared with the entire congregation," Montañez said.
The initiative, which kicked off for the first time this year in September, is a three-year campaign that the president of the NHCLC, Samuel Rodriguez, hopes will fight against Biblical illiteracy that "threatens to destroy the principles and values on which our great nation was founded."
Executive Director of Multi-Language Ministries for American Bible Society, the Rev. Dr. Emilio A. Reyes, also shares the same sentiment and says there are numerous Hispanic churches and pastors who have recognized the need to further Bible engagement in their communities.
"American Bible Society's three-year partnership with NHCLC is just getting started and we are looking forward to continuing our efforts in reaching this community. The Bible has so many answers to life's questions and our hope is that Hispanics will allow the Bible to inform their worldviews," Reyes said.