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Finees Flores, leader in Hispanic ministries, dies at 78

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The Rev. Finees Flores Jr.
Dec. 6, 2006

By United Methodist News Service

The Rev. Finees Flores Jr., 78, former editor of el Intérprete magazine and an influential figure in the United Methodist Church’s Hispanic ministries, died Nov. 18 at his home in San Antonio, after a long struggle with cancer.

He was editor of el Intérprete from 1973 to 1986, guiding the magazine from United Methodist Communications’ Evanston, Ill., office. He took the reins following an interruption in the publication, which had been published as el Intérprete in Puerto Rico from 1969 to 1971. During his leadership, the magazine became one of the first Spanish resources to reach the United Methodist Spanish-speaking population in the United States and Puerto Rico.

"He was an advocate for the Hispanic/Latino causes in the church," said the Rev. Yolanda Pupo-Ortiz, a teacher at the Academy of Spiritual Formation and former staff executive at the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race. "He will be remembered for his passionate work in social justice issues as he worked incessantly for the poor and the disenfranchised. As a pastor, he never remained within the four walls of his church. He was out doing his work in the community and mentoring new pastors."

Flores helped the United Methodist Church develop its Hispanic ministries. In 1979, he was one of the organizers of the first Consulta Nacional of MARCHA (Metodistas Asociados Representando la Causa Hispano/Latino Americana), the denomination's Hispanic caucus, according to Bilha Alegría, Flores' former editorial assistant and currently a staff member of InfoServ at United Methodist Communications.

Flores was a founder of the Local Pastor School in Spanish -- currently el Curso de Estudio (Course of Study) -- at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., Pupo-Ortiz said. The Rev. Guillermo Debrot was a cofounder with Flores.

The school began with Hispanic students from the North Central Jurisdiction and eventually incorporated students from Puerto Rico, the Northeastern Jurisdiction and Cuba, said the Rev. Julio Gomez, a former MARCHA executive director and a retired pastor in the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference.

"Finees Flores was a leader of the Hispanic people and for the Hispanic people," Gomez said.

When he died, Flores was a member of Oxford United Methodist Church in San Antonio. He was an active hospital chaplain and also the minister-in-charge of Monte Sinai United Methodist Church. During his career, he was an elder in the church's Northern Illinois Conference and was also appointed to serve in the Rio Grande Conference.

Flores received his bachelor of arts degree in religion and philosophy from Northern Baptist College, Chicago, and his master of divinity degree from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. He received a doctorate in ministry from McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago.

He served the church at the annual conference, jurisdictional and general church levels. He was a General Conference delegate in 1976, 1984 and 1988, and he served on the General Council of Finance and Administration from 1988 to 1992.

A memorial service was held Nov. 22 at Oxford United Methodist Church. The Rev. James Galloway-Edgar and Bishop Joel N. Martínez officiated. A graveside service was held Nov. 24 at Ft. Sam Houston National Cemetery, with full military honors. Flores had served in the U.S. Navy.

Survivors include his wife Elda; son and daughter-in-law Steven Flores and Leica of San Antonio; daughter Deborah Hernandez of San Antonio; brother and sister-in-law Frank Flores and Charlotte of Chicago; and four grandchildren.

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

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