Hispanic team awards $88,000 in grants, celebrates new ministries

Hispanic team awards $88,000 in grants, celebrates new ministries

Children sing at a new Spanish-language worship service at Broadway United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tennessee.

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ALCOA, Tenn. -- The Hispanic Ministries Team is celebrating the launch of new Spanish-speaking worship services, a new pastor, and a new community outreach worker in Holston Conference, bringing the total current Hispanic ministry count to 13.

The Hispanic Ministries Team met on Jan. 27 at the Alcoa Conference Center to review ministry successes of the past year and to make grant awards totaling $88,000 for 2020.

On Feb. 23, Broadway United Methodist Church in Maryville, Tennessee, kicked off its first Spanish-speaking worship service in the fellowship hall, led by the Rev. Daniel Castillo. About 50 people attended.

Castillo has also led two pilot worship services for neighbors at Bookwalter United Methodist Church in north Knoxville, Tennessee, with plans to launch at a nearby location. Castillo was recently appointed as associate pastor to both Broadway and Bookwalter.

At the former Hopewell United Methodist Church in East Knox County, a new Hispanic worship service has been developed within the last year through contacts made by the Rev. Teresa Atkins McClure, pastor at New Life United Methodist Church.

“We are excited about reaching areas in Knoxville that we have never reached before,” said Mike Feely, Hispanic Ministries Team chair.

In fall 2019, a community outreach worker was hired to build relationships in schools, churches and groups in Knox County. Rita Castañon is a college student, a United Methodist church member in Morristown, and a veteran staff member for Camp in the Community.

"Rita will be doing outreach and building relationships with families and students in five communities in Knoxville connected with Bookwalter UMC, Norwood UMC, Lonsdale UMC, Cedar Lane UMC and Lincoln Park UMC,” Feely said. “This is a pilot project in cooperation with the Tennessee Valley District.”
Rev. Felix Perez and wife, Evelyn

Last month, St. John United Methodist Church welcomed a new pastor to lead its Hispanic congregation in Maryville, Tennessee. The Rev. Felix Perez is a retired pastor from the Western North Carolina Conference. 

Grants were awarded to Bookwalter, Broadway, St. John, Hopewell, and Tennessee Valley District to support these ministries, Feely said.


Serving new places

A grant was also awarded to Camp in the Community for its summer ministry reaching Hispanic children throughout Holston Conference.

“Camp in the Community is one of our most effective Hispanic ministries, serving in places where we don’t have other Hispanic ministries,” Feely said.

A grant was awarded to Dayton United Methodist Church in Dayton, Tennessee. The Rev. Susana Lopez is working with Dayton to develop its Hispanic ministry, which has existed a few years but recently lost its worship leader.

“This funding is to continue a strong ESL (English as Second Language) program at Dayton, and hopefully to help redevelop a Spanish language worship service,” Feely said.
“The vision is to prepare leaders who are Methodist-rooted to work in these ministries,” Lopez said.
Lopez is pastor at El Ministerio del Espiritu Santo in Sevierville, Tennessee, as well as pastor at Rios de Agua Viva in Morristown, Tennessee. Mountain View District received a grant to support the Rios ministry.
In Unicoi, Tennessee, a grant was provided to support Todos Los Ninos, a Friday after-school ministry serving 73 children. The ministry at Unicoi United Methodist Church was started about 10 years ago. “It reaches people who are not going to be reached without this ministry,” said the Rev. Todd Adams.
For the first time, First United Methodist Church of Pearisburg, Virginia, received a Hispanic ministry grant to begin a Spanish language weekly Bible study and breakfast.
“The Lord just opened the door,” said the Rev. Jim Goddard, speaking of the emerging Pearisburg ministry led by the Rev. Brian Burch.
Other grant recipients included First United Methodist Church of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, and the Smoky Mountain District.

Success to build on

Team members also celebrated other initiatives by Hispanic pastors in Holston Conference, including a coffee shop, Startbien in Galax, Virginia, launched by the Rev. Javier Hernandez and the Rev. Elizabeth Hernandez, pastors at Iglesia Puerta del Cielo.
Feely also noted that Holston Conference had supported other ventures in the past year with 2019 grants, including:
  • A special dinner at Annual Conference, attended in June by 24 pastors, family members and committee members at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.
  • Elizabeth Hernandez’s leadership for a Spanish-language session at “Mission u,” a Holston United Methodist Women event held in July at Pleasant View United Methodist Church in Abingdon, Virginia.
  • Training for Hispanic clergy held in September at Pleasant View United Methodist Church in Abingdon. About 50 attended “Building Leadership” (Capacitation de Lideres) led by the Rev. Cesar Duran of Laredo, Texas.
Other Hispanic ministries are ongoing in Abingdon, Hillsville, and Pulaski, Virginia.
In September 2019, Hispanic clergy attend training at Pleasant View United Methodist Church in Abingdon, Virginia. From left to right: Javier Hernandez, Elizabeth Hernandez, Yolanda Miranda, Susana Lopez, Wilmer Lopez, Marvin Lopez, Elizabeth Lopez, and Saul Huerta.


Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.