As the demographics shift in the United States and particularly in the south-central region, the United Methodist Church cannot be faithful to its purpose without directing additional resources and attention toward ministry with Hispanic and Latino persons. This ministry is as varied as ministry with Anglo persons, or any other ethnic demographic, and yet we have tended to relegate it to a “program” of the church and often combined the efforts with ministry with the poor.
On October 11-13, 2017, TMF facilitated the South Central Jurisdiction bishops and teams from each of their conferences in a conversation around ministry with Hispanic/Latino persons. This event was entitled Encuentro which means " . . . to encounter, to engage, to meet, to come into contact with, to clash, to experience . . ." This initial conversation was held in McAllen, Texas, with visits to ministries and key locations along the border in order to acquaint participants with the diversity within the Hispanic population, including varying levels of economic status and assimilation into the culture. The bishops and their teams sought to gain a better understanding of who the church is trying to reach, when it comes to the Hispanic community, and why. At the same time, TMF gained a better understanding of this edge of the church’s ministry and the bright spots, assets and resources available for this adaptive issue.
View photos from Encuentro and experience the multifaceted Rio Grande Valley through ministries like ARISE, a community-based organization that has been empowering women and strengthening colonia families for 30 years; La Basilica; the Rio Grande River and Wall visit; and Colonia Los Naranjos.