Vida Abundante: Hispanic Ministries Comes to East Texas
By: Sherri Gragg
Hispanic Ministries is growing again with Vida Abundante, the first United Methodist Hispanic worship community in East Texas.
The Tyler, Texas area is home to more than 42,000 Hispanic people, 30,000 of which speak Spanish as their first language, and yet there was no United Methodist church to minister to them in their language.
In response to the prayers of many, God has given birth to a new United Methodist Hispanic worship community- Vida Abundante. According to the Rev. Arturo Cadar, Coordinator of Mission Field Development, the new church plant is part of an intentional expansion of the Conference’s Hispanic Ministries beyond the greater Houston area.
Vida Abundante will be led by the Rev. Emigdio Rosales Ortiz and his wife, Sucel, who will serve as worship leader. “We have been looking for this for a long time,” said District Superintendent Marlin Fenn. “Over the last three years, we have seen tremendous growth of the Hispanic community. A number of towns in the Northwest District are now more than 50 percent Hispanic, but there has been no significant United Methodist outreach ministry that targets this community.”
Several churches and ministries in the area are investing heavily in the future success of Vida Abundante including Dayspring UMC and Pollard UMC. Marvin UMC has been instrumental in the launching of the new Hispanic worship community. The church has provided both financial and leadership support to the new church. Additionally, Marvin UMC has donated a facility for Vida Abundante to call home, one they will share with the new district offices.
St. Paul’s Children’s Foundation is another key partner in the endeavor. The ministry’s decade-long investment in children has provided a natural way for Ortiz to make connections with the families he hopes to serve. “We moved to Tyler on June 5th,” Oritiz said. “The next week, I began leading Bible studies for children and adults at St. Paul’s Children’s Foundation’s summer program.”
In addition to Bible studies, Vida Abundante has also hosted a variety of outreach events including movie night and family nights, offerings the new church will continue up until their facility is ready to host their first services this October. “We have a group of people ready and coming together who are very interested in Vida Abundante,” Ortiz said, “Most of these people do not attend any church but they know who the Methodists are because we have been helping them through other programs. When they see a new UMC church planted in their language, there is a spark.”
According to Fenn, there is a special district-wide energy surrounding Vida Abundante. “Part of what makes this so exciting is you have the influence of St. Paul’s Children’s Foundation, the passion of churches in the Northwest District who want to work together to see a Hispanic ministry, and the talent of Pastor Rosales Ortiz. That is what makes this so special and unique. We all want him to have the best start he can have.”
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