GCU Welcomes Hispanic Pastors to Campus
By Doug Carroll
A significant overture to the Hispanic community by GCU brought approximately 50 pastors to campus on Wednesday for lunch and a tour.
Orchestrated by Campus Pastor Tim Griffin and José Gonzalez, an itinerant Hispanic pastor with whom Griffin has become acquainted, the event packed McKinley Hall in the Student Union and represented the first time on campus for most of the visitors.
They were impressed by what they heard and saw.
“I see nothing but positive things from this,” said Frank Macias, an associate pastor at Love International Ministries, a bilingual church near 27th Avenue and Colter Street that draws nearly 2,000 parishioners to its Sunday worship services.
“The Hispanic community is a sleeping giant. When it wakes up, we want it to be a blessing. We’re a force to contend with, and we want that force to be guided by the Holy Spirit.”
During lunch, the pastors heard from Griffin and Stan Meyer, GCU’s executive vice president, about the University’s interest in developing a closer relationship with them.
“As you know, Grand Canyon is right in the middle of a very large Hispanic community,” Griffin said. “Our focus is that we would become your friends.
“God intends for us to bless our neighbors,” he said, receiving a loud ovation. “Hopefully today is just a beginning.”
Meyer gave the group a brief review of GCU’s spiritual heritage and the various development projects under way on campus. He also noted that a College of Christian Studies is in the planning stages.
That came as welcome news to Macias.
“That’s a crucial component for instilling morals and ethics,” Macias said. “That’s great foresight, and it shows the heart of Grand Canyon. This school should be the catalyst not only for west Phoenix but for the entire Valley.”
Dr. Sammy Alfaro, an assistant professor of Christian studies at GCU, called the luncheon “historic” and said its value shouldn’t be underestimated.
“Our pastors (in the Hispanic community) need to come together on education,” Alfaro said. “They need to see hope, and this gesture will inspire them.”
Alfaro said he was “shocked” by the number of pastors who never had set foot on campus previously, even with a number of them serving nearby churches.
“Some didn’t even know GCU is a Christian university,” he said.
Tino Aguirre of Along Side Ministries, a prison transition program, lauded the University’s effort at welcoming the pastors and said he is looking forward to events in the new GCU Arena starting in the fall.
“GCU has the right perspective in reaching out to its neighbors,” Aguirre said. “Hispanics are reserved people who like to receive a greeting. This will get people interested.”
Griffin closed by saying that the pastors’ visit couldn’t have come at a better time — for them or GCU.
“I’m thrilled you’re here because of what I’ve seen God doing at Grand Canyon,” he told the group. “He’s doing some amazing things on this campus right now.”
Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or firstname.lastname@example.org.