NC LATINA LEADERSHIP COORDINATOR
EARNS MDIV AT CAMPBELL DIVINITY
“I have been formed, challenged, encouraged, and empowered to do what God called me to do. Undoubtedly, my professors at Campbell University Divinity School were part of God’s plans for me,” says graduating divinity school student, Veronica Martinez-Gallegos.
God’s plan for her life has been Veronica’s driving force since childhood. When reflecting on that life she says, “My life is like a puzzle. Although the figure is not yet finished, I can already appreciate the central image of the complete picture.” While there were times in her past when she was uncertain that the pieces would ever fit together, now Veronica is sure of the calling she has from God.
Even as a young girl, while attending a graduation at a Baptist Seminary in Torreon, Mexico, she remembers feeling in her heart a call to enter seminary. She recounts, “As I was walking on the campus, I felt in my heart that I was going to be in a school just like it. I did not know how, when, or where.” She only knew that God was calling her.
At 16 years old, she was given the opportunity to move from Mexico to Texas to live with a family member. This transition provided her with the positivism, and encouragement that she needed to continue her education.
“Trusting that God will lead is not easy, but I accepted God’s calling with the knowledge that it was going to be a sacrificial life, and that I had many challenges ahead of me.” She was committed to give God her best. Veronica graduated from high school and made a public commitment to pursue ministry in 1993.
Veronica met her husband, Hugo, at the Hispanic Baptist Theological Seminary (now Baptist University of the Americas) in San Antonio, TX, where later she earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Theological Studies. After she and Hugo graduated, they moved to Durham, NC where Hugo was called as a special consultant for the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina and a church planter for Yates Baptist Association. In Durham they established the church, Iglesia Bautista Emanuel. From there Veronica and Hugo moved to Sanford where he served as pastor of Primera Iglesia Bautista from 1999 to 2006. Then they moved back to Texas so Hugo could attend BUA.
As a Latina woman, Veronica had no intentions of pursuing a ministerial vocation. Nevertheless, by the persuasion of Dr. Javier Elizondo at BUA, Veronica became a full time student and took a part-time job as a student director’s assistant.
In the Summer of 2007, Veronica was invited by Dr. Nora Lozano to be part of the Latina Leadership Institute, (LLI), as a student. She says, “It was through LLI that I felt empowered and I found a purpose as a Latina woman in ministry. She says further, “It was through the years in LLI that I walked the most important journey of my life with God. “ She believes that her time learning in LLI and her training at BUA prepared her to pursue graduate studies. She says, “When I graduated from BUA, I was ready and felt self-confident, and empowered to apply for a Master of Divinity.“
In July 2009 in Houston, TX, she met Dr. Michael Cogdill from Campbell Divinity School at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship meeting who invited her to apply to Campbell Divinity School. Veronica says, “I received his invitation as a divine invitation. “
After enrolling in Campbell Divinity School, Veronica felt a desire to help other Latina colleagues in a way similar to her work with LLI. A group of 16 Latina students began the North Carolina Latina Leadership Institute in 2012 of which Veronica is now the state coordinator.
Of her Divinity School experience, Veronica says, “I have no doubt that Campbell was a divine appointment for me. Each class has been a divine appointment, each professor, each textbook, each assignment.” She considers herself more aware of her strengths and weaknesses, and better equipped for a “new beginning in a new place of ministry walking alongside my husband in his church pastoral ministry.”
Now Veronica serves with her husband at Iglesia Bautista La Voz de la Esperanza and is appreciative of the support the congregation gives of her desire for a pastoral vocation as a chaplain in a hospital setting.
As she nears graduation Veronica says, “I am delighted to finish this theological journey in a school that has given me the opportunity to have a place in ministry as a woman, even more so being a Latina woman.” She hopes to obtain certification from the Association for Clinical Pastoral Education as a Certified Chaplain and from the American Association of Pastoral Counselors as a Certified Pastoral Counselor.
Veronica looks to her future with hope believing, “Today I am facing a future better prepared, full of opportunities and with many useful tools for the ministry to which God has called me.”