Spotlight Story

12 April 2023

Pastor Cesar Depaz: Fostering an Inclusive Community Based on Protecting God’s Creation

Category: Spotlight Story

For Cesar Depaz, serving in his church goes beyond the limits of the structure itself. It is an ongoing mission to help and guide those who need it the most. Originally from Costa Rica, Cesar came to the United States 20 years ago. From his beginnings in the ministry, something was clear to him: “it was more than a church, it was a family.”

That message currently guides the mission of the Hispanic Community Church of Boston, a church he has been serving as the principal pastor for the past eight years. Born into a Christian family, faith and religion have always been intertwined in his decisions in life. His parents immigrated from Costa Rica in September 2000 to manage a Latino church in Jamaica Plain, Boston. They expanded their ministry, and now the church serves hundreds of families in the area.

After his parents retired as pastors, he took off on his mission to lead and serve the Latino community in the Boston metropolitan area, with a special interest in unifying younger generations within the church. When Cesar became the principal faith leader, he wanted it to serve as a bridge between generations of Latinos who have made Boston their home. Many of them arrive alone and don’t know how to speak English. He understands what it can be like for someone moving away from their loved ones, so finding a community to trust in those situations is crucial. That is why, besides having a full-time job at the Department of Education, Cesar invests in giving the best of himself for his church and community.

“I have always been interested in leadership, so as a pastor I was eager to learn more professionally and seek other leaders who could help me grow. In the process, I found the Hispanic Leadership Network from Hispanic Access Foundation. I connected with them and the network because I noticed the organization was not only focusing on leadership, but also in other areas like the environment and conservation, so I immediately knew it was something I wanted to learn from.”

After joining the network, he participated in workshops relevant to his ministry and community. He was able to meet other faith leaders across the nation and bring that knowledge back to his community.

“What I enjoyed the most is that I was able to meet pastors of different denominations from all over the country because even though we are all Latino, each community is different.”

Last year, Cesar was able to organize the first Latino Conservation Week event in his church. They took a group of Latino kids and teenagers on a field trip to George’s Island, where they participated in environmental talks offered by park rangers. Cesar also talked to the kids about the importance of integrating outdoor immersion as part of a healthy life. With the support and sponsorship from Hispanic Access Foundation, he was able to take onboard a group of 30 people for the excursion.

“We must remember the importance of caring for the environment and being responsible for God’s creation. It was an opportunity to take these children out and encourage good environmental stewardship.”

Most recently, Cesar participated in Latino Advocacy Week in Washington D.C., where he met with members of Congress to advocate for recreational spaces in urban areas. One of the main issues affecting his community is the lack of adequate green spaces for Latino children and families to recreate safely.

“There is a growing problem of community displacement and gentrification. Latino families cannot afford the rising prices in these new buildings, and no one thinks about building parks or taking good care of the ones available.”

Cesar mentioned the benefits he has seen when outdoor immersion is integrated into the church’s regular programming. The community participates in local hikes and walks when they can, an activity Cesar wants to keep encouraging among younger generations who attend the church.

For Cesar, being a good Christian comes through taking action. As an outdoor enthusiast, he knows his mission as a faith leader is to ensure the Latino community doesn’t have any barriers to enjoying the outdoors.

“As Christians, I believe we are called to take care and be responsible for the land. Today, we see people losing access to natural resources. Who would think I would be raising my voice in front of the U.S. government and advocating for my Latino community and the causes I believe in? I think it is the least I can do, to plant a seed and hopefully inspire others to do the same.”

Hear from Cesar and other leaders about their Latino Advocacy Week 2023 fly-in experience. 

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Hispanic Access is inspiring, training, and working with leaders like Pastor Cesar Depaz, who have a stake in their community and have the drive for positive change. To help support and continue this work, please consider making a Charitable Donation

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