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Hispanic Plan builds communities of faith


3:00 P.M. EST October 27, 2011

Rosita Mayorga is invited to speak in churches across the United States as a facilitator for the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry. A UMNS web-only photo courtesy of Rosita Mayorga.
Rosita Mayorga is invited to speak in churches across the United States as a facilitator for the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry. A UMNS web-only photo courtesy of Rosita Mayorga.

In 1995, I had the opportunity to participate for the first time in a workshop about the National Plan to develop Hispanic-Latino Ministries. At Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, I met the Rev. Cristian de la Rosa, the Rev. Saúl Trinidad and Marigene Chamberlain, who were the facilitators. This wonderful experience made me a believer in the National Plan for Hispanic-Latino Ministries.

I was impressed by the simplicity and passion of the facilitators as they shared their experiences and encouraged the group of 30 participants to work as a team. There were no clergy; we were all equal. It was a friendly feeling, with fellowship and respect, and all opinions were heard. 

I returned with much enthusiasm and many ideas about how to reach the community. My husband, the Rev. Jorge Luis Mayorga, had been named a local pastor to develop a Hispanic ministry in the city of Lake Geneva, Wis. We already had about 25 people attending the Spanish services. I was happy to know I was better prepared to assist him, putting into practice what I had learned.

We began visiting homes

A few months later, we were invited to pray in the home of the Manríquez family in Delavan, a town 23 miles from Lake Geneva. The father had been in an accident that left him bedridden, with both legs amputated and multiple fractures. We shared words of faith and hope. After that moment, this family opened the doors of their home so we could meet there every two weeks. This was our first community of faith.

We were invited later to visit another family, where we prayed and shared God’s word. The participants liked these informal meetings, which permitted them to express themselves and be heard. I was touched by their testimony and thought of Mark 6:34, which tells of Jesus’ compassion for the people “because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began teaching them many things.” We began distributing Bibles. I still remember how grateful the people were as they received those Bibles because, for many, it was their first Bible.

Little by little, more homes were opened to receive God’s word. After our worship service in Lake Geneva, a group of eight, including our pastor, went to Delavan to meet in the homes.

Rosita Mayorga visits with a friend during the 2010 meeting of the United Methodist Church’s Hispanic caucus in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.
Rosita Mayorga visits with a friend during the 2010 meeting of the United Methodist Church’s Hispanic caucus in San Juan, Puerto Rico. A UMNS file photo by Mike DuBose.
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Fruits of the National Plan

After we had visited the homes for one year,  Sister Carmen, matriarch of the first home we visited, told us, “Listen, since you come here, why don’t we meet in the Methodist church here in town?” At that moment, my husband and I were talking with the pastor of  Delavan United Methodist Church, the Rev. Edward Johnson, who was more than happy to share the facilities with us and develop a Hispanic ministry.

God was opening doors, and this encouraged us to continue. We began meeting in the chapel because the group was small. We met there for a year. In 1997, the group grew, and we moved to the sanctuary. I remained as a lay missionary in Delavan leading the group. My husband came to officiate in the sacraments every first Sunday of the month.

Since I was working as a volunteer, the time had come to minister full time to the group. I translated birth certificates and completed immigration applications. There was no public transportation, so I took people to the doctor or the hospital, to immigration interviews, to consult with lawyers and to many other places. Modules I and II taught me that God’s kingdom is present when we do deeds of mercy and justice and that we preach a holistic gospel, showing interest in the soul as well as  the physical body.

God called me to be a pastor

In 1992, I began the course of study for local pastors. I was about to graduate and be certified as a candidate to the ministry. On Sept. 1, 1998, I was named a full-time local pastor. I was amazed at how God was working and present with me. I understood that God encourages those God calls and that we only need to prepare ourselves in the best way possible. Thanks be to God!

In eight years, from Lake Geneva to Whitewater, Wis., we formed three communities. One brother from Vida Abundante witnessed the following: “I exchanged the bottle for a Bible, and my life was transformed.” Glory to God! These three congregations, even with their struggles, continue to grow and to proclaim the gospel.

For 15 years, I have collaborated with the plan as a facilitator and have served as a consultant with the United Methodist Board of Discipleship. My husband and I have promoted the plan in our conference. We  formed the Conference Committee for Hispanic Ministries as an independent committee. We also formed the Training Hispanic-Latinos in America Institute, which I had the privilege of leading for a few years. The institute’s goal was to train laity, empowering them through the modules to go and serve God and the Hispanic population through communities of faith. Three new ministries have emerged from the National Plan. This has been a very fruitful ministry. The majority of lay missionaries have followed required procedures and are now pastors and local pastors.

Another church door opens

Temporary migrants who come to work on the fields and vegetable warehouses attend our services along with people from the city of Whitewater. In the winter, it is difficult for them to attend our mission, Vida Abundante, because it is 25 minutes away. That’s how we got the idea of starting worship services in Whitewater. The United Methodist Church of Whitewater opened its doors to us.

My friend Gloria, who had always dreamed of becoming a missionary and by then had taken Modules I and II, was in charge of this new community of faith. During the week, Gloria visited  homes, serving  families wherever possible. Since the first module was successful, we put it into practice one more time. After our worship service at Vida Abundante, we attended the worship service in Whitewater. We took our instruments, and our musicians played. The superintendent appointed Gloria as a part-time local pastor.

With the approval of the cabinet and the Congregational Mobilization Process, the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference supported this project, which we know is a great blessing for our congregations in Wisconsin. We give thanks to Bishop Linda Lee and to my husband Jorge, who is now our superintendent.

This process is helping us to create new parameters in our congregations, to go outside our traditional boundaries of being a church. We have had pastoral retreats and covenant groups with five to eight leaders from each congregation. We have an attendance of 125 at the covenant group retreats and  truly feel God’s glory. We have been able to motivate more laity. With God’s help, we hope to see the fruits of the mobilization process.

I thank God for my teachers, the facilitators of the National Plan and, especially, the Rev. Trinidad, who taught me how to internalize the plan so that “I am the plan.” The plan cannot die because I have it inside me to continue to implement it wherever God takes me. What I have learned, no one can take away.

In our dear United Methodist Church, we never cease to learn. I thank the Rev. Saúl Espino and the Board of Higher Education and Ministry for giving me the opportunity to be a student in the bachelor’s program in theology at the Latin American Biblical University, where, with God’s help, I will graduate next year.

*Mayorga is a full-time local pastor appointed to Iglesia Metodista Unida El Buen Samaritano in Waukesha, Wis.

News media contact: Amanda Bachus, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

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