Volunteers start work on 3-year plan for Hispanic ministry

3/18/2008

Special to the Advocate

Earlier this year, a dozen United Methodist pastors and laypeople met in Jackson to develop a three-year plan for the Hispanic ministry in this state.

 

The planning exercise was led by Dionisio Salazar, assistant general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries in New York.

 

The intensive 10-hour planning session was deemed a success by Salazar, who conducts this type of event throughout the U.S. with conferences interested in being more active in developing Hispanic communities for evangelism, missions and outreach and who wish to apply for grants from the GBGM.

 

Right now, the Mississippi Conference has four Hispanic church initiatives in some of the most heavily Hispanic-populated communities in the state. They include Trinity Mission in Forest, Meridian Central UMC Hispanic ministry, McLaurin Heights UMC in Pearl and the new church start and Hispanic mission in Biloxi called El Pueblo. These communities are home to an estimated 50,000 Hispanic folks, about one-third of all Hispanics in the state.

 

Besides offering a spiritual place to feed their souls, these ministries are also involved in serving these communities in whatever way they can. A great number of the men, women and children served by these communities of faith are poor, and the money they earn from their agricultural, factory or processing plant jobs barely helps pay for their shelter and food and their remittances to their home countries to support other family members. They are, therefore, frequent shoppers at the church clothes closets and sometime visitors to the food pantries and quite often go without dental or medical attention.

 

It is the goal of the conference office to help by directing all needy people regardless of race, nationality or religious affiliation (or lack thereof) to a place where help for their spiritual and physical needs can be found.

 

For information, contact Jorge Navarrete at jorge@mississippi-umc.org.