Letter from Bishop Martinez: Remembering a Congregation's Hospitality for Farm Workers

Saturday, June 27th was a time for celebration and remembrance for the El Buen Samaritano United Methodist Church in Kenedy, Texas. The congregation, along with pastors and friends from United Methodist churches of the area,  gathered to mark that day in August of 1966, when this small congregation welcomed the Río Grande Valley Farm Worker Marchers who were on their way to Austin to dramatize their call for just wages and living conditions.

The pastor at that time, Rev. Isabel Gómez, returned to be the featured speaker. His friend and fellow pastor of First Methodist Church at the time, Rev. Roy Brent Fisher, was memorialized in remarks by his widow, Mrs. Doris Hudspeth Miller.

The Worship Service was hosted by current pastor, Rev. María Vela and District Superintendent, Rev. Eradio Valverde, Jr. Special guests included one of the original Farm Worker March participants, Mrs. Daría De La Cruz from Garciaville, Texas and her daughter, Marisela Olvera. Mrs. De La Cruz read the Memorial List of Marchers who have died since 1966.

With praise music, congregational singing, Scripture readings and prayer, in both English and Spanish, the standing room only gathering was both solemn and spirited.  

Bishop James E. Dorff of the Río Texas United Methodist Conference and Retired Bishop Jóel N. Martínez dedicated a historical marker noting the Christian hospitality offered by the congregation to the weary but proud marchers for justice who were welcomed to Kenedy on that long ago summer day.

A delicious lunch was served in the church fellowship hall to all who attended.

This letter was written by Bishop Jóel N. Martínez (Retired), The United Methodist Church 

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