New ministries serve as models for reaching Hispanic/Latinos
9/4/2003 News media contact: Linda Green ∑ (615) 742-5470 ∑ Nashville, Tenn
This report may be used as a sidebar to UMNS story #427.
By Michael Wacht*
UMNS photo by Michael Wacht
Some missions offer English and citizenship classes to Hispanic/Latino familes.
to families is one focus of the new Cristo a las Naciones United
Methodist Hispanic mission in east Orlando, Florida. Mission members
also plan to begin English and citizenship classes. A UMNS photo by
Michael Wacht. Photo number 03-284, Accompanies UMNS #429, 9/5/03
ORLANDO (UMNS) - Dramatic growth in Florida's
Hispanic/Latino population has spurred the creation of new ministries
from the United Methodist Church, including two that could serve as
models for other areas of the country.
The number of
Hispanic/Latinos in Florida grew by more than 70 percent during the
1990s, becoming the state's largest minority at nearly 17 percent of the
In the Orlando area, two congregations in the
United Methodist Church's Orlando District formed an unusual partnership
to launch a Hispanic/Latino mission. Meanwhile, in Deltona, a ministry
was planted through the combined efforts of two districts and the
denomination's Florida Annual (regional) Conference.
Cristo a las
Naciones, a new mission in east Orlando, is the result of a partnership
between University Carillon and Faith United Methodist churches. Both
had worked on developing their own Hispanic/Latino ministries, but each
was missing something. University Carillon had the resources and passion
to start the ministry, but not the population. Faith is surrounded by
Hispanic/Latinos, but the church did not have the resources to reach
those neighbors. The two joined efforts.
contrast, the community around Faith United Methodist Church has as many
as 50 percent Hispanic/Latino households, according to the Orange
County Supervisor of Elections.
The Rev. Deborah McKown, Faith
Church's pastor, says members had a vision for reaching new people. "Our
congregation ‚Ä¶ identified that there were people in our community we
weren't reaching effectively."
Nearly half the new members Faith
had received in the past two years had Hispanic backgrounds or family
members who spoke Spanish. Several members started a Bible study in
Spanish to begin reaching out to the community. "We wanted to do it; we
just didn't know the steps," McKown says.
McKown says her church's
leadership is "100 percent behind" the mission and is finding ways to be
in ministry with Hispanic/Latinos. "We're now able to do things we only
imagined doing before," she says. "Children and youth ministry is now
actually possible because we're stronger."
In Deltona, Ginny
Pearcy says the new Hispanic/Latino ministry at First United Methodist
Church is the result of visioning - and a miracle.
attending seminary at Asbury Theological Seminary's Orlando campus,
Pearcy read that Deltona was 20 percent Hispanic. She envisioned a new
ministry at her church and wrote letters to the DeLand District, Florida
Conference and Asbury Seminary seeking help.
"They told me to keep visioning, thinking, dreaming," says Pearcy, wife of the Rev. Robert Pearcy.
Carri√≥n, the Orlando District's Hispanic
ministry coordinator, put Pearcy in touch with the Rev. Lydia Solis, a
local pastor from the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico living in Deltona.
Pearcy secured funds from the district and conference offices to pay
The mission held its first worship service on Easter,
drawing more than 40 people. Solis is teaching both English and Spanish
and leading Bible study and citizenship classes.
Pearcy says she is amazed to see how people throughout the conference are working to make the ministry possible. # # # *Wacht
is director of communications for the United Methodist Church's Florida
Annual Conference. A version of this report appeared in the
conference's Florida United Methodist Review newspaper.