Strength in Diversity -- A Church for All People


 By Cynthia Laird, Senatobia District

Saturday, July 20, 2013 -- The Senatobia District of the Mississippi Conference had a land dedication for a new church for all people -- the church that welcomes every racial and cultural group with open hearts, open minds and open doors. 


When the Senatobia District laity and clergy began to survey the community around the new church property, they discovered that

Festival Leaders
Left to right:  Rev. Greg Hazelrig, Rev. Goyo De la Cruz, Rev. Luz Campos and Erin Beasley
there are people from all walks of life and no ethnic group in the majority in the area.  Some of the people do not go to church, and the new ministry seeks to make everyone feel welcome. Rev. Goyo De la Cruz, Rev. Luz Campos, Rev. Greg Hazelrig and Erin Beasley were chosen to lead the church in the endeavor to provide diverse worship and ministries for all people.


It was very fitting that Bishop James E. Swanson, Sr. would give the message for the Festival de Verano (Summer Festival) since he has experienced first-hand what it is like to 

Swanson speaks at festival
Bishop Swanson at land dedication during the Festival de Verano.
 step out in faith and see the Lord do an amazing work. Early in his ministry, Swanson discovered his gift as an evangelist when he was serving a four-point charge in southeast Georgia.  Each of the four churches experienced growth in membership and attendance.  Later he was appointed to St. Mary's Road UMC in Columbus, Georgia.  This was the first cross-racial appointment for the South Georgia Conference, and at the time of his appointment, the church had an average attendance of 12 people.  During his 14 years there, the church's average attendance grew to over 500. 


"This ministry is not about us," said Swanson. "It is about putting our energy into the work of the Lord Jesus Christ, and experiencing the powerful, wonderful and miraculous things He will do in our midst."


The land in the Senatobia District for the church was purchased 20 years ago, and the dream of the church lay dormant all these VBS group preforms at festivalyears.  Swanson declared that God was working to prepare for this church and people are now witnessing what God can do even before we begin to dream a dream.


Swanson referenced John 10 and discussed how Jesus told His disciples about sheep recognizing their master's voice.  Christians are called to follow the example of Jesus to seek out the other sheep and bring them to Jesus, the true shepherd. Swanson emphasized, the message to the community should be "Come on up in here!  Everyone is welcome in this place!" 


Those interested in aiding this ministry should contact Rev. Goyo De la Cruz at or 901-496-1297.  All monetary contribution to this new church start should be sent to the Senatobia District of The United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 220, Senatobia, MS 38668.  Please make all checks payable to the Senatobia District and notate Multi-cultural Church in the memo.  Continue to pray for the new church for all people.