The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Candle power

La Vela: Freeing the mind, deepening the spirit

Carmen Rustrián’s marriage was in trouble. Then a back injury and severe pain made it impossible for her to work. Four children at home demanded her attention. Tensions rose along with the bills. Soon depression darkened her tilting world. Without health insurance and speaking little English, she didn’t know where to turn. Then she found La Vela and a flicker of hope.

Carmen Rustrián (left) and Kristina
Carmen Rustrián (left) and Kristina N. Johnson pray together at the La Vela Latino Center for Spiritual Care at First Lutheran Church, Greensboro, N.C. Johnson is the center’s director. The center is in one of the top five fastest growing counties for Latinos in the country.
The La Vela Latino Center for Spiritual Care is an ecumenical, faith-based mental health ministry of the ELCA . It operates from First Lutheran Church, Greensboro, N.C. La Vela means “the candle” in Spanish.

For Rustrián and many others, La Vela offers counseling, pastoral care and, most of all, a caring community of Latinos and non-Latinos—a bridge between two cultures.

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February issue


Embracing diversity