TIME Cover Story Focuses on North Park Theological Seminary Graduate

Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús
Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús is a 2006 graduate of North Park Theological Seminary.

Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús, pictured, quoted in April 15 issue

CHICAGO (April 9, 2013) — Rev. Wilfredo De Jesús, who earned a master of arts in Christian ministry in 2006 from North Park Theological Seminary, the graduate theological school of North Park University, is prominently featured in the April 15, 2013, cover story in TIME, "¡Evangélicos!"  De Jesús is senior pastor, New Life Covenant Ministries, Chicago, the country's largest Assemblies of God congregation.

The article notes that large numbers of people who are Latino are joining evangelical Protestant churches. Similarly, the numbers of Latino students enrolled at North Park University are increasing, comprising more than 16 percent of the diverse undergraduate student body, according to University figures. North Park is affiliated with a growing and diverse Protestant church, the Evangelical Covenant Church, based in Chicago.

New Life Covenant Ministries has grown from a congregation of 100 members in 2000—when the congregation first called de Jesús and his wife, Elizabeth—to more than 17,000 members who attend one of the congregation's four campuses each Sunday, according to TIME. New Life offers 11 weekly services, nine in English and two in Spanish, the magazine said. "If one Evangélico church has made the leap from immigrant barrio to booming American megachurch, it is New Life Covenant Church in Chicago," the magazine reported.

De Jesús grew up in Chicago's Humboldt Park neighborhood. When he began his ministry at New Life, the congregation bought a farm and converted it into a home for recovering addicts and prostitutes, and purchased a nearby liquor store, converting it into a café. The congregation started English services to reach third-generation Latinos, added services in Spanish for first-generation Latinos, and began streaming services online. "New Life didn't just grow—it exploded," the TIME article noted.

New Life has "over 135 ministries that reaches the poor in every place in the city of Chicago," De Jesús said in an online video. The congregation also has a number of international ministries in India, Africa, Peru, Haiti, and Santo Domingo, he added.

The article states that more than two-thirds of the 52 million Latinos in the United States are Catholic, and the percentage is expected to grow considerably by 2030. Many are now joining evangelical Protestant churches, created a "Latino Protestant boom (that) is transforming American religious practices and politics," TIME reported.

De Jesús is at least the second North Park graduate to be featured in a TIME cover story. Another North Parker featured by the magazine was Dr. Paul Carlson, who earned an associate's degree from North Park in 1949. Carlson later became a medical missionary with the Evangelical Covenant Church, and was killed in 1964 by rebel insurgents in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Carlson was featured on the cover of TIME in December 1964 as part of its report, "The Congo Massacre."

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