Church must continue reaching to Hispanics, commission told
9/30/2003 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
related coverage of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women, see
UMNS stories #461 and #464. A photograph of the Rev. Minerva Carcano.
By Linda Bloom*
General Commission on the Status and Role of Women. Photo number W03022, Accompanies UMNS #462
No Long Caption Available for this Story
HOUSTON (UMNS) - When the Rev. Minerva Carcano was
growing up in Edinburgh, Texas, there were two Methodist churches in
town - one for Hispanics and one for "Anglos."
She was thrilled
when the two churches joined forces for vacation Bible school - held
during the first summer at her own church and the second summer at the
other church, which she had never been inside before.
turned to dismay when it became clear that the school's final program
would be confined to the fellowship hall because the Anglo congregation
"did not want their sanctuary soiled by brown children."
now almost 50 years old and serving as a United Methodist clergywoman
in the Oregon-Idaho Conference, recalled that experience of her youth
during the Sept. 25-28 meeting of the Commission on the Status and Role
Her presentations and Bible studies were part of an
emphasis during the meeting on Hispanic United Methodists, particularly
women. The denomination has encouraged the growth of Hispanic members
and congregations during the past decade through its National Plan for
The Rev. Jeannie Trevino-Teddlie, a commission
member from Dallas, pointed out that Latinos and Latinas would soon be
the majority population in Texas, and she added that if the church is
serious about its call to make disciples for Christ, it must be serious
about mission with this population.
Trevino-Teddlie, director of
the Mexican-American Program at Perkins School of Theology, led
commission members through part of "Pentecost Journey," a basic resource
that she helped put together for the National Plan for Hispanic
Ministry. The curriculum sensitizes congregations to issues relating to
Carcano said she has celebrated the improvements in
her own life because of her faith and involvement in the church, but
stressed that she knows "people of my generation" who continue to
struggle and live in poverty.
That struggle has intensified with
the economic decline of recent years, she added, recalling church
families who were "working hard but not making it."
Maria Cantu, a
candidate for lay missioner from Vida Nueva United Methodist Church in
Houston, agreed that poverty, along with immigration status and
difficulty with language, were the major problems faced by Hispanics
today. She participated in a panel discussion with two other local
Hispanic women and two Hispanic commission members.
Mexican native and grandmother of 11 had high praise for the freedom she
felt within the church. "As Hispanic women, we are now free to express
ourselves - we can preach, we can teach," she told commission members.
"All women, Hispanic or not, have gifts to bring to the church."
Turrubistes, a pastoral leader at Vida Nueva, also sees value in her
neighborhood evangelistic work and involvement in the church, despite
the lack of economic resources. "One of the reasons I have come to the
United Methodist Church is that I see a big future," she said.
Rev. Maria T. Santiago, a commission member from Puerto Rico, still
finds barriers for women, both inside and outside the church. In Puerto
Rico, for example, men usually are pastors of the big churches, while
"women tend to be sent to missions, sometimes impossible missions. We go
where nobody wants to go.
"We have to empower ourselves," she added. "No one is going to do it for us."
low-income women can empower themselves. Turrubistes noted that every
morning a small group of women comes to her home to pray, eat and
prepare for the tasks of the day. In the church itself, about 35 women
sell food to raise money for mission. "It's the women who are doing it,"
she said. "They come with their children."
In the neighborhood
around Central Park United Methodist Church, the Rev. Guadeloupe Diaz
has been organizing the women and other residents, many of them
immigrants, for the past four years. Programs range from a counseling
program for abused women to preschool classes to spiritual guidance. "We
never close our doors, even if we can't pay our bills," Diaz said.
members visited Central Park and witnessed the work that has been put
into the building, with the help of volunteer labor and a $25,000 grant.
As she showed them around, Diaz mentioned it was not unusual, on a
given day, to have a viewing organized by a nearby funeral home take
place in the sanctuary as preschool kids played in the social hall and
women prepared meals in the attached kitchen.
also visited Iglesia Metodista Unida San Marcos, the first Hispanic
church chartered by the Texas Annual Conference in 1989. In addition to a
meal and lively worship, the Rev. Silverio Sanchez shared his journey
from Mexico to the United States and from small-business owner to
He told how his congregation bought and converted a
former bank building into a house of worship. "We're still in the saving
business," he quipped.
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*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.