‘Una experiencia nueva’: Hundreds of Spanish speakers get new look at worship

The occasion was the 31st annual National Hispanic Conference, which was held Saturday at Biola.

Kathryn Watson, Writer

Hundreds of Spanish-speaking people filled Sutherland Auditorium and the Caf Saturday for the 31st annual National Hispanic Conference.

The conference, held entirely in Spanish, centered around the theme of worship. The conference featured keynote speaker Rev. Luis Gabriel César Isunza, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Ciudad Satélite in México. Nine workshops addressed topics from worship in the family to worship through work. Adults weren’t the only ones present, as workshops for children ages 4-12, and in junior high and high school were offered, too.

Salvador Orozco attended the conference for the first time with his wife.

“My reason I came is because I want to learn more about my creator and how I can worship him,” Orozco said in broken English.

Orozco said he’d learned that there are both right and wrong ways to worship God.

Ruth Lopez Novodor and her brother, John Thropay, ran one of the workshop sessions — Conducting Business as an Act of Worship. Novodor and Thropay, who own and operate Beverly Oncology and Imaging Centers, used the story of Boaz to illustrate entrepreneurship.

“His field was ripe for the picking,” Novodor said.

A first-time attender of the conference, Novodor said she enjoyed not only speaking, but also listening.

“It’s a great fellowship of Christians, but I really just found it rich to see how many other Latino Christians are in our community,” she said.

“It’s a time to acculturate and share cultures and how they work with Christianity in a way that’s wholesome,” Thropay added.

Margarita Ocampo, a teacher, expressed her appreciation in Spanish for the day’s events.

“Me gusta mucha,” she said, meaning, “I like it.” “Es una experiencia nueva para mi,” meaning, “It’s a new experience for me.”

The conference aimed to provide an intensive day of educational training for pastors and Christian leaders from Spanish-speaking, conservative evangelical churches.

People of Hispanic or Latino origin accounted for 47.7 percent of Los Angeles County’s population in 2008, compared with 36.6 percent in all of California, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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