Hispanic Leaders Celebrate Halfway Point of Apprenticeship

Date Posted: 5/26/2016

Participants share their journey through the first year of the Hispanic Leadership Apprentice Program designed to help discern a calling into the candidacy process and equip leaders to launch new Hispanic/multicultural ministries.
Nominated by their pastors, participants of the two-year Hispanic Leadership Apprenticeship Program are enjoying the ‘trifecta of training.’ This handpicked group of spiritual leaders has access to study sessions, mentorship, and on-the-job training to discern a readiness and calling to become pastors to this growing segment of the state’s population and the entire church.  Their task is to help us become the multi-cultural church that God has called us to be in a conference that is increasingly blessed with diversity.
For the last year, participant Enrique Sanchez has been learning in the shadows of Rev. Luis Ramirez at Cypress Trails UMC. “Although I still work fulltime outside of the church, I have gained valuable experience and knowledge about working within the Hispanic culture in the Methodist church in recent months. My wife and children, and I have seen God in the fruits that are being obtained and multiplying,” shares Enrique. “Our personal prayer is that the gospel reaches every Hispanic in this city, and it will be our blessing to help in that effort by not losing heart, but faithfully doing what God has called us to do.”
Reaching the halfway point is exciting for all of the participants. Rev. Diane McGehee, Director of Missional Excellence offers, “Our mentor pastors are coaching each of the individuals for growth, which is also promoted through participation in ESL classes to strengthen English communication skills, opportunities to build relationships at connectional events, and a series of reading assignments and full day workshops with experts in their fields, including Perkins professors, Carlos Cardoza and Hugo Magallanes, among others.” The program is also designed to educate participants on Methodist doctrine and history to prepare them for potential approval by the Board of Ordained Ministry for pastoral ministry in the future.
Additionally, the apprentices have been learning about worship leadership, preaching and the sacraments of the denomination and how they serve as a means to share the gospel with the multi-ethnic community that God has gathered within the bounds of the Texas Annual Conference.
Some apprentices are working as twosomes and some are single placements.  All are working with the entire church, not just as Hispanic outreach leaders, and thus are working hard to master English fluency as well as pastoral effectiveness skills.
Beginning in July, husband and wife team, Frank Acosta and Elizabeth Gallardo, will begin serving at Fairbanks UMC under Rev. Deanna Young’s leadership, and plan to enter the candidacy process this August. Additionally, an elder in the Methodist church of Cuba, Daniel Hernandez, and wife Dayimi Pimentel, will begin serving at El Mesias UMC starting July 1. They will be moving into the neighborhood to be close to their new ministry community.
Thanks to a grant from the Moody Memorial United Methodist Permanent Endowment Fund, Cassandra Arroyo Nuñez and Cesar Nuñez have moved into the Galena Park neighborhood and will be spending a year discerning how Galena Park UMC can begin to reconnect with a largely Latino neighborhood and build on the legacy that that congregation is faithfully passing on to them.  They also will enter the candidacy process in August.
Franklin Rodriguez, has become a licensed local pastor and has launched a new church start out of Bear Creek UMC that is growing by leaps and bounds. Sonya Shearrow, has also become a licensed local pastor and has been appointed as an associate at Crossroads UMC, effective July 1.
Evis Serrano, who has been serving as a part time local pastor at Covenant Glen, joined the program to improve her pastoral skills and deepen her understanding of Methodist theology.  She will be appointed to serve part time at Clear Lake UMC, effective June 1, working alongside Rev. Alberto Williams at Celebracion.
Gustavo Echemendia is also entering the candidacy process in August and is serving as lay supply at Casa de Dios at Foundry UMC
Cuban-born Yuri Carralero is at First UMC, Conroe will also be entering the candidacy process in August and will be placed as lay supply until he is certified as a candidate.  “In my ministry, my glory in the Lord is proactively being a channel and a witness of the lives transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit. I feel called to serve…what is really important is the joy I have felt building bridges between people and making disciples of Jesus Christ.” 
Raymundo Arguello, joined the program while serving as lay supply at Casa de Alabanza and will be entering the candidacy program in August, as will Jose Riznak who has been serving at St. Luke’s Gethsemane, and Raul Arauco from El Buen Pastor, one of the former Rio Grande churches that recently joined the TAC.
Diane is excited about the success thus far in this pilot program. Our mentor pastors, Rev. Cesar Martinez, Rev. Arturo Cadar, Rev. Luis Ramirez, Rev. Alberto Williams, and Rev. Emigdio Rosales, have done a superb job of working with these gifted leaders. This program answers an increasing need for us to learn how to effectively reach and welcome the changing population of our conference.”  Currently, less than 2% of the membership of our conference is of Latino/a decent.  Yet, within the boundaries of our conference, over 50% of the population will be of Latino/a decent by 2020 and already over 50% of those under the age of 20 are Latino/a. “While participants who complete the program are not guaranteed to qualify as candidates for pastoral ministry, we are working closely with the Board of Ordained Ministry to help prepare them for the likelihood of success.  With this first group, we have doubled the number of well-prepared Hispanic leaders available to serve our churches and expect to start working with a new group in the fall of 2016.”