Hispanic/Latino plan coordinates ministries across church
A UMNS Report
By Allison Scahill*
The National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries is the first coordinated
effort of the United Methodist Church to focus on the development and
strengthening of Hispanic ministries.
The plan?s creation was approved in 1992 by the United Methodist
legislative body, the General Conference. The idea for creating the plan
first discussed in 1987 at a meeting of MARCHA, (Metodistas Asociados
Representando La Causa de los Hispano Americanos) the denomination?s
?At that time, there were conferences that had some kind of Hispanic
ministry, but there was no coordination, no overall plan,? said the Rev. José
Palos, who led MARCHA at the time and became the plan?s first coordinator. The
denomination had 38 conferences doing Hispanic/Latino programs. ?Each one was
doing its own thing.?
In 1993, Palos and Bishop Joel Martinez, who currently leads the United
Methodist Church?s Southwest Texas Conference, got the plan going.
Bishop Joel Martinez
According to the plan?s vision statement, ?Ours is a vision of a church in
which, as in the first Pentecost, all can hear the mighty works of God in their
own tongue (Acts 2:8) ? which is not merely a matter of language but also of
cultural identity, family traditions, etc.?
Since its start, the plan has helped many U.S. annual conferences develop
comprehensive plans for Hispanic/Latino ministries in their areas.
By the beginning of 2002, conferences reported 75 newly chartered
Hispanic/Latino churches, 208 missions, 900 community ministries, 600 faith
communities, 300 church school extension programs and 70 revitalized
congregations. According to the plan, conferences also reported 900 trained lay
missionaries and 130 pastor/ mentors, 125 trained facilitators of workshops for
lay missionaries or pastor/mentors and 32 commissioned missionaries.
?As we celebrate this tremendous and unique growth, we need to consider that
the challenges we face ahead of us are even greater,? said the Rev. Saúl
Trinidad, interim coordinator of the national plan. ?As we already know, the
Hispanic/Latino population is experiencing a demographical boom. This is a
challenge for all the conferences in the UMC.
?It is a divine mandate to reach people with the good news of the gospel and
make disciples,? he said.
?Because of its socioeconomic, cultural and linguistic characteristics, the
Hispanic population requires new principles and models of ministries to develop
churches ? contextual and appropriate models of ministry,? he said. ?That?s
precisely what the national plan is ? a strategic model, a tool designed for the
development of churches.?
|A UMNS Web-only photo by Amanda Bachus
Rev. Saúl Trinidad (center) is the interim coordinator of the National
Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries. The Rev. José Palos (right) is the
former head and founder of the plan.
Trinidad said the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries has several
priorities for 2004-08:
Mobilizing annual conferences and congregations to strengthen
Hispanic/Latino ministries for growth, renewal and vitality.
Including and integrating ministries with the growing Brazilian
communities in the United States.
Resourcing the non-Hispanic/Latino congregations that are in ministry with
Having an ?acompañamiento? (journey) with annual conferences in the
development of strategic conference plans for Hispanic/Latino ministries.
Working with annual conferences and Hispanic/Latino congregations in
developing and strengthening ministries with second, third and later
Developing new Hispanic/Latino congregations and renewing and
strengthening existing ones.
Reaching out to the Brazilian community is also a priority, he said. ?In the
past 20 years, the Brazilian community has emerged in a way that the United
Methodist Church needs to develop ministries for them.?
?One more challenge is trying to make some conferences understand that this
is not a Hispanic plan,? said the Rev. Miguel Albert, who served as coordinator
for the plan for two years before departing last February. ?This is not the
National Hispanic Plan, this is the National Plan for Hispanic Ministries. ?
It?s a plan for the whole church, the whole denomination.?
*Scahill is a recent graduate of Baker University in Baldwin City, Kan., and
worked as an intern for United Methodist Communications in 2005. Amanda Bachus,
director of Spanish-language resources at United Methodist Communications,
contributed to this report.
News media contact: Tim Tanton, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or
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