Hispanic Leaders Voice Concerns, Seek Political Insight

Post a Comment » Written on July 21st, 2008     
Filed under: News
WASHINGTON, DC (July 21, 2008) – Hundreds of Hispanic religious and community leaders gathered earlier this month for the annual National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast and Conference (NHPBC), including Walter Contreras, who works with numerous Hispanic ministry initiatives within the Evangelical Covenant Church, and three other Covenant pastors.

BushThe three-day event, orchestrated by Esperanza, brings together Hispanic leaders from across the country to meet with the nation’s top elected officials and key policy makers in a collective effort to address the diverse needs of the Hispanic community.

Others participating included Ana Encarnacion of Northridge, California; Tomas Ivnes of Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Aristides Mendez of Sacramento, California.

“It is an exciting event on Capitol Hill where our voices ring loud and true, both in prayer and in discussions with those who can effect change,” says Contreras, who had an opportunity to greet President Bush (accompanying photo) during one of the sessions.

One of the highlights was a meeting with the campaign managers for presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama, where a number of issues were explored, including border security, education, health insurance, free trade, energy, economic conditions, and the Iraq war.

“Each year the event begins with great expectations about what we can accomplish as a unified voice, and participants are never disappointed,” Contreras says of the event. “There is great joy in our coming together and great hope that we can change lives as we focus on advocacy issues such as housing, immigration or HIV/AIDS, and how those issues affect Hispanic people of all ages.”

Reverend Luis Cortés, Jr. organized the first National Hispanic Prayer Breakfast in 2002 as a one-day event for members of the Hispanic clergy to gather in prayer on behalf of the nation and the Hispanic community. The conference also included informal discussions with the clergy’s elected officials to discuss issues important to Hispanic people and to fulfill Esperanza’s civic mandate to advocate on behalf of the marginalized and underserved in local communities. The gathering eventually was expanded to a three-day convocation.

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