Center director Dr. Wilfredo Estrada-Adorno expressed his excitement over the recent literary addition.
“To be entrusted with this large collection of books once again affirms that the Church of God is placing emphasis on the theological training of Hispanic pastors,” he said. “The establishment of this library has been a collaborative effort of Hispanic ministries across the country, and is an eloquent testimony of their collective commitment to the ministerial formation of pastors and leaders.”
According to Estrada, the collection began in 1947 with the creation of the International Preparatory Institute in San Antonio. The library expanded over the years as it was moved from San Antonio to the Hispanic Institute of Ministry in 1974 (Houston); West Coast Christian College in 1983 (Dallas); and the resurrected HIM in 1994 (Dallas). At the close of the institute in 2005, the books remained relatively untouched by both students and the public until Estrada’s request for the collection.
Interest in the library flared up once more when Estrada became the director for Latino Studies 2 1/2 years ago. He realized the collection would aid Hispanic students in their research. He finally identified the location of the books about a year ago.
Estrada received permission to acquire the books in late April 2014. The Center for Latino Studies on Walker Street became the new home for the library. The seminary built shelves to handle the thousands of books now in its possession. Books currently line the walls of three rooms in the center’s building.
The library is valued at over $85,000.
Current titles and donations have been added to the collection since its placement at the center. Estrada listed several individuals who have already promised to donate their personal collections to the center’s growing library. The plan is for the entirety to be 10,000 volumes strong within two years.
Estrada explained a couple benefits of the recent acquisition.
“First of all, we will have Spanish resources for students to do research. Most of the time, they have to do research in English,” he said. “It will also allow us to bring Hispanic visiting scholars to Cleveland.”
One such scholar committed to a residence with the seminary for the upcoming fall semester. It is a leap in the right direction.
“I feel like [the Church of God] has been doing a great job in bringing to life this center, and supporting this center,” Estrada said. “My responsibility is to bring the Hispanics behind this project, in terms of getting money to support the ministry and in terms of bringing students to enroll in our programs.”
He explained the center intends to appeal not only to international Hispanic students, but to any within the United States, Tennessee and Bradley County, too.
Although theology is the subject of a majority of the library’s volumes, there are also books on history, general educational material, fiction and biographies. Estrada assured the collection is open to the general public and Lee University students as well as the seminary students.
The goal is to hire a librarian for the library within a year and a half. The additional staff will allow for students and local residents to check out the resources. The books can currently be accessed Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the center on Walker Street.
“I am really excited about this,” Estrada said. “I am looking forward to serving this community with all my heart, and I want people to be well-trained and educated in such a way that they will serve this community, too.”
More information can be found by calling 478-1131 or visiting, www.ptseminary.edu.