Hispanic Ministries Discover Creativity Can Enhance Outreach

Date Posted: 11/10/2016

Whether hosting an outdoor fiesta or a “prayer booth” at a fall festival, several Hispanic ministries are connecting with their neighbors in impactful ways.
Most fall festivals are geared to the little folks, but the Hispanic ministry leaders at Foundry UMC recently helped the other ministries of the church to host a community event that incorporated some cultural flair for the grown-ups, as well as a “prayer booth” for those seeking someone to pray with them. The Foundry is the home church of Ana Robles, assistant to Rev. Diane McGehee, TAC Center for Missional Excellence and she enjoyed working with others in the Hispanic congregation of Casa de Dios to plan a raffle and also participate in the Hispanic Praise Dance group. Notes Ana, “Having the Hispanic congregation members help at the registration table was very helpful as many of the guests were Spanish speakers.”
“My husband said several people came by for prayer during his shift,” she shares, “and that he was nervous at first but saw how good it made others feel to know someone cared to pray with them.”  Over a dozen people stopped by for prayer and shared their contact information for additional interaction. Additionally, the crowd of over 2,000 attendees enjoyed a performance by Ambassadores Ballet Folklorico International and Casa de Dios praise dance team “Shekinah.”
Rev. Cesar Martinez says, “We had a blast at the festival getting to know our neighbors. We literally had our community over for a party and welcomed them with a smile.” Adds Cesar, “We were very intentional about getting to know folks and making sure they feel welcome not just for events but for worship and everything else our church offers.”
Foundry’s Casa de Dios congregation had another reason to celebrate this month-  its fourth anniversary. At the invitation of Pastor Cesar Martinez, Frank Acosta, one of the pastors in the TAC Hispanic pastor apprenticeship program, was the guest speaker. Frank and his wife Elizabeth Gallardo are serving at Fairbanks UMC helping that congregation reach their Hispanic neighbors. Foundry’s anniversary worship service also included a special presentation by the dance team, followed by a tasty potluck dinner celebrating four years as a Hispanic congregation. 
Meanwhile, a few miles down the interstate, at First UMC Conroe, the Hispanic ministry leaders have also been brainstorming ways to get better acquainted with the neighborhood while inviting others to explore the church’s Hispanic community.

In late summer, the ministry hosted an outdoor fiesta with Cuban music, mariachi singers, food with a cultural twist and gospel sing-a-longs. “A mix of about 200 members and guests enjoyed the afternoon on the church property,” notes Diane, “and the event served as a great backdrop to get better acquainted by reaching out. I encourage other churches to brainstorm and create ways to touch the neighborhoods where they are planted.” Yuri Carralero, a participant in the Hispanic Apprenticeship Program is assisting with this outreach at First UMC Conroe and is serving alongside Rev. Emigdio Rosales. 
“I am excited to see God raising up leaders throughout the TAC who are helping us connect with our neighbors who have come from around the world,” adds TAC Missions Director Diane.  “God has assembled the nations in our midst and we have the challenge and privilege of reaching them for Jesus Christ!”