You’ve probably heard the saying, “if you want to make God laugh, make a plan.” While the theology of such a statement is flawed, it can allow us some levity in otherwise difficult situations. And after some five months of this pandemic, I could use some levity. As the new year began, we had some great plans for the work of TryTank this year. And then...well.
TryTank is an action research experimental laboratory. Our work, by design, is IN the churches. With churches mostly on pause to in-person worship and gathering, we’ve obviously had to adapt to the new reality. We had to look at each of our active experiments to see if we could do anything with them during this time. We have put many of the experiments on hold (it’s hard to do evangelism theater or teach Gospel music during these times, for example). After some research, we concluded that some of the experiments were not feasible. And we discerned that experiments which had not gained traction probably never would. To that end, we have decided to close the book on a few of them. (You can see updates on our entire list of experiments at any time on our website: www.trytank.org.)
What has not gone away from our plan for 2020 (although it is developing slower) is our focused energy into Hispanic Ministry. And I wanted to briefly say a word about that.
Currently, the Episcopal Church is about 90% Non-Hispanic White. The country as a whole is only 60.7% Non-Hispanic White*. This means our church has a large opportunity to expand within the Hispanic community. This is especially important when you consider that by 2045, Non-Hispanic Whites will drop below 50% of the U.S. population and the largest minority will be Hispanics. “Think of it this way: Every 30 seconds, two non-Hispanics reach retirement age and one Latino turns 18. Like the baby boomers before us, the Latino baby boom will affect every aspect of American life over the next 50 years.”**
We have several experiments addressing this opportunity. We are helping three dioceses create a ministry based on the success of our earlier Latino Ministry in a Box experiment. We are also working on a Latino Music Project to create a music video library as well as a Spanish-Language missalette to save time and care for the environment. We are learning if we can plant a Spanish-language congregation using the radio and are developing La Misa in English to reach younger Hispanics who are bilingual and prefer to receive their information in-culture and in-English. All of it exciting!
One final note, as you know, TryTank is a joint project of Virginia Theological Seminary and General Theological Seminary. Within VTS, we make our home within the Lifelong Learning department. The department is always putting on some fascinating content and resources. Starting with this newsletter, we’ll be mentioning some of the events and resources being offered. I hope you’ll take advantage of some of those as well.
**Chiqui Cartagena, Hispanics are creating a new baby boom in the United States
The Rev. Lorenzo Lebrija is the founding director of the TryTank Experimental Lab.