Hilda Santiago is a bilingual, Texan, Latina, Lutheran young adult with Puerto Rican roots, and an amazing faith journey! Hilda grew up in San Antonio attending a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod congregation where her father was the pastor. After graduating high school, she moved to North Carolina where she attended UNC Chapel Hill. When she arrived on campus she felt alone without a social network. Soon thereafter, she saw someone holding up a sign that read “Lutheran Campus Ministry” and she thought, “I’m Lutheran!”
Though most students had become connected through their ELCA home congregations, Hilda was welcomed with open arms. At her university, Lutheran Campus Ministry (LCM) was an official student organization affiliated with a local ELCA congregation. It soon became her home away from home. She became involved with the campus ministry choir, attended Wednesday night services, and began teaching Sunday School in the congregation. When she returned to school after an intense study abroad experience in Costa Rica, it was her LCM community that supported her through the transition.
She credits LCM for growing her faith immensely as she was able to reflect on what she believes among caring peers. Service and learning trips and dynamic experiences of peer led worship within a vibrant spiritual community were transformative for Hilda. Remaining involved in campus ministry throughout her time at the university had an exponential impact on her life. Through LCM she was introduced to Luther Rock Outdoor Ministries, an ELCA camp in Newland, NC, where she served for one summer as a counselor and another as a chaplain. Through her camp experience she was introduced to Young Adults in Global Mission (YAGM), an ELCA ministry that enables young adults to spend a year in international service. Hilda spent a YAGM year in Argentina followed by a year traveling the U.S. recruiting young adults to participate in the YAGM program.
Once back in San Antonio, she joined Iglesia Luterana San Pablo, a diverse, Spanish-speaking congregation of the Southwestern Texas Synod where she now serves on the church council. All of these experiences, from campus ministry to camp to global mission and finally joining an ELCA congregation inspired her to pursue a Master of Social Work degree at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
Your mission support of the Southwestern Texas Synod helps to fund both local and national campus ministry and outdoor ministry, as well as churchwide ministries like YAGM. Together we are investing in a web of accompaniment that enables young adults to integrate their faith, exercise their gifts, and follow Christ’s call to service.