Dr. Miguel De La Torre, assistant professor of religion at Hope College, will participate in a gathering of church leaders from North America that will examine the theme "Developing a Heart that Yearns for Justice" on Monday-Thursday, Jan. 26-29, in Tijuana, Mexico.

Both laypeople and clergy will participate in the ecumenical event, which will discuss issues of poverty, immigration, globalization, peacemaking and justice as they relate to the teachings of Jesus.


De La Torre is responsible for the major presentation on the conference's second day, which will focus on "Conflict and Compassion in the Teaching of Jesus." The day is subtitled "Reading the Bible from the Margins," the title of an award-winning 2002 book by De La Torre. He will also be leading a hands-on workshop in conjunction with the conference.


Other speakers and resource people for the event will include theologians and economists such as Justo and Catherine Gonzalez, Rosemary Radford Reuther, Rick Ufford-Chase, Barry Shelley, Michelle Tooley, Ross and Gloria Kinsler, Carmen Rodriguez and Fr. Peter Rugerre. All have either lived in the third world or were born there, and represent various denominations.


Besides the lectures and discussion, the seminar will include field trips and conversations with residents of Mexico concerning their experiences with poverty and oppression. Participants will listen and learn how people in the margins read the Bible and struggle with the powers of domination and greed. Practical resources for use in the parish will be shared.


Sponsors of the seminar include various border ministries, peace and justice agencies, global mission and service groups and leaders of Lutheran, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, United Church of Christ, Episcopalian, Methodist and other denominations.


De La Torre, who was born in Cuba, has been a member of the Hope faculty since 1999. Last September, he was named the 2002 recipient of the "Outstanding Hispanic Educator" award by the Michigan Hispanic Legislative Caucus. In May of this year, he received a first-place award in the "Educational Books" category from the Catholic Press Association of the United States and Canada for "Reading the Bible from the Margins" (Orbis Books).

In addition to "Reading the Bible from the Margins," his books since joining the faculty have included "La Lucha for Cuba: Religion and Politics on the Streets of Miami" (University of California Press), "The Quest for the Cuban Christ: A Historical Search" (University Press of Florida), and "Introducing Latino/a Theologies" (Orbis Books). He has also written six book chapters and eight articles published in professional journals since coming to Hope, and has five other books en route to publication.