By Rev. Dr. Sunny Brown Farley
On Jan. 1, Rev. Cesar Martinez became the new Hispanic Ministries Coordinator for the Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
In this role, he said he hopes to identify and nurture clergy and lay leaders from TAC Hispanic faith communities and encourage districts and churches in doing Hispanic ministry.
Martinez said he plans to focus his first year on supporting existing ministries, then move toward enabling the vision of those who want to begin new ministries.
“There are definitely opportunities to plant churches, but we really want to look out for the health of our congregations right now,” he said. “We want them to know the connection is there for them.”
Martinez noted that the Hispanic population in Texas is growing at a tremendous rate and that this population is both complex and diverse. There are first, second, third generation immigrants and more. They hail from many different nations. They may speak Spanish only, English only or both Spanish and English.
“You need to understand and be comfortable with that kind of diversity of thought, culture, class, education and everything,” Martinez said. “Whether they are doctors or day laborers, we need to preach to both.”
He said the Hispanic population is looking for a spiritual refuge.
“We often think services, programs, food banks, but we need to present ourselves as a place to find community, prayer and love, beyond just physical needs,” he said. “They are all looking for a place to be spiritually fed and to be loved and to love the people around them.”
He also said Hispanic ministry needs to become more integrated in the conference.
“My goal is to really have Hispanic ministry as a vibrant part of the conference on every level and I’m excited about being able to work with our churches and the conference and reach our Hispanic community – Spanish-speaking, English-speaking, diverse and beautiful.”
Rev. Cesar Martinez has served in Hispanic ministries in the Texas Annual Conference for the past 12 years. He served as a pastor at Houston’s The Foundry and is currently the pastor of CrossRoads UMC in Houston. He will serve in his new appointment as Hispanic Ministries Coordinator part-time. He is a graduate of the University of Houston and has an MDiv from Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He is married to Karina and has two children.