Praxis Connection Review is an online journal that highlights collaboration, innovation, and impact through churches in NYC.

Movement on the Margins Spotlight: LPAC & Dr. Ray Rivera

by Praxis Connections Review Volume 2

What is the evidence of a Gospel Movement? Some say the number of churches planted. Others, growth in the number of those who identify themselves as Christian. If we look at the Gospels we find that Jesus was on the margins. In fact, he was born and died on the margins of society. Born in a barn, family forced to flee and become refugees, spent time with tax collectors, prostitutes, & lepers, and rejected by society and put to death on the cross. A Gospel Movement is found on the margins where Jesus is.

In an effort to highlight the Movements On the Margins in our city we will regularly highlight such efforts. On March 30th the Praxis Connections Review sat down with Dr. Ray Rivera Founder of the Latino Pastoral Action Center (LPAC). Dr. Rivera recently celebrated his 50th year of ministry. Based on the interview on March 30th and his book Liberty to the Captives: Our Call to Minister in a Captive World is our spotlight on what God has been doing through LPAC & the leadership of Dr. Ray Rivera. It’s a snapshot. A book would do it real justice.

Dr. Ray Rivera

The Latino Pastoral Action Center began with a vision to “Educate, equip, and empower churches & society to develop holistic ministries to serve the church and society” through its Holistic Ministry Institute. Back then the New York City Missions Society incubated LPAC as their fiscal conduit. Focusing on training, technical assistance, and capacity building LPAC helped birth 20 ministries after its first three years and many more in the years to come.

In 1984, the New York City Missions Society helped LPAC acquire a building in the Highbridge section of the South Bronx, which today has a poverty rate of 37.3% and 10.9% unemployment rate, as a laboratory for a holistic ministry of prophetic presence. While still dedicated to leadership development LPAC developed a direct ministry in the neighborhood based on the Captivity Theology and program methodology.

Today it has developed three charter schools under its Family Life Academy Charter Schools (FLACS) serving over 1,500 students in the Highbridge, and Mott Haven neighborhoods of the South Bronx, housing four churches who meet at their Highbridge center, providing leadership for 20 churches (Latino & African) who are a part of the Council of Holistic Ministries (each required to do one of the ministry dimensions, and providing an array of services to those living in the community.

All the efforts are rooted and aligned to the Theology of Captivity Dr. Rivera developed over the years of ministry that acknowledges all things are fallen and flawed and in need of redemption. Individuals and systems. He has developed a theory and methodology of change that incorporates:

Five Dimensions of Ministries: These Dimensions are based on the first two Commandments to “Love God with all your heart, mind, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves.

1) Spiritual
2) Mental
3) Emotional
4) Physical
5) Social

Based on these Dimensions Dr. Rivera developed Four Principles of Ministry:

1) Liberation; Personal & Structural or System
2) Healing – We are wounded healers
3) Community – Providing authentic community
4) Transformation – The process of personal & community change

To help others utilize this theory and methodology of change LPAC developed Four Components for Ministry:

1) Conceptual – How you conceive the ministry
2) Contextual
3) Organic
4) Incarnational

Today Dr. Rivera intends to spend more time on training and equipping others for holistic ministry using LPAC as a laboratory for learning and leadership development to multiply the number of ministries on the margins! Please read his book or take a visit to LPAC to learn more about this Ministry on the Margins creating liberation and transformation from captivity.