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Reverend Luis A. Cortés to Speak at Moravian College Baccalaureate Service

Bethlehem, Pa., April 5, 2005—Reverend Luis A. Cortés will be the featured speaker when Moravian College hold its annual baccalaureate service on Friday, May 13 at 5:30 p.m. The service will take place at Central Moravian Church, located on the corner of Main and Church Streets in Bethlehem. Cortés is executive director of the Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia, and president of Nueva Esperanza, Inc., a community development corporation.

Cortés received his Master of Divinity degree from Union Theological Seminary in New York City. He was ordained in October 1981. He came to his present positions in 1988, the same year that he was commissioned as an American Baptist missionary. In addition, Cortés chairs the National Hispanic Religious Partnership for Community Health, a White House initiative to relay health information to Latinos. He was a founder of the United Bank of Philadelphia, the city’s first African-American bank.

The Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia was founded in 1981. It consists of approximately 45 Philadelphia churches and concentrates on pastoral fellowship, clergy education, and community advocacy. They speak out about civil rights issues. In 1988, they founded Nueva Esperanza in response to a passage in Matthew 28. Today, the economic development corporation serves low-income Latino families in north Philadelphia.

“It is the best case scenario, a group of churches working together,” says Cortés. Nueva Esperanza provides housing, job training and employment, children’s summer camp, and education to those it serves. It has enjoyed great success, helping more than 1,200 Latino families buy their first homes, assisting more than 125 women get off welfare through its computer skills training program, and sending hundreds of underprivileged children to summer camp at its campground and retreat center.

“We do what we do because God asks us to, in the name of Christ,” explains Cortés. Doing God’s will is a constant source of encouragement for him. “That conviction [in God] gets me through the bad times. In good times, I rejoice that I am able to serve,” he says.

Moravian College is a private, coeducational, selective liberal arts college located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Tracing its founding to 1742, it is recognized as America's sixth-oldest college. Visit the Web site at www.moravian.edu.