I am so excited and blessed by what is happening in the Rio Grande Valley. We are investing in our lay folks and doing so in Spanish. At the new El Valle District Ministry Center in McAllen, we are halfway through a two-month Academia, a series of Saturday sessions covering theology, preaching, outreach strategies, and more.
106 lay leaders enrolled in Academia with the help of 17 United Methodist Churches and missions. They filled the ministry center during each of these Saturday sessions which includes child care for small children, and a Spanish class for folks wanting to learn.
This is part of a larger district focus and commitment to doing bilingual ministry in a new way. As a conference, I think one of the most important things for us to intentionally do is to engage with new peoples in new places in our communities with new energy. Here in the Rio Grande Valley, that happens to be 85% Hispanic.
I want to thank the alianza de pastores here in the Valley and El Valle District staff for making these wonderful sessions happen. Rev. Maribel Vasquez along with other EVD clergy have provided meaningful leadership guidance in putting together Academia.
“My goal and hope is the birth of five fresh expressions, or Hispanic ministries that will emerge from this great project completely in Spanish for lay leaders of the El Valle District,” said Rev. Maribel Vasquez, who leads the alliance of clergy in the district.
This is important work because as a church we must authentically and intentionally engage our commitment to make disciples of Jesus Christ in this growing and dynamic mission field. Furthermore, we are praying that the energy from Academia will serve as catalyst as we purposefully look for new opportunities to connect with new people in Spanish!
We have to connect not only in Spanish but to our entire community.
The future and the hope of fulfilling our mission as a church implies that we have to intentionally reach and develop authentic friendships with our Spanish-speaking community.
We continue to pray for new ministries in our conference.
“See that I command you to strive and be brave; Do not fear or be dismayed, for Jehovah your God will be with you wherever you go,”
-Joshua 1: 9.
Rev. Dr. Robert Lopez
District Superintendent, El Valle & Coastal Bend Districts