The following guest post is from the Rev. Talbot Davis, pastor of the massive, diverse Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC. He serves on the board of directors of the Western North Carolina Conference Evangelical Movement (WNCCEM) and blogs at The Heart of the Matter. This post is republished with permission.
Here I am with Latino Ministries Pastor Sammy Gonzalez at last weekend’s Two Year Anniversary of our Spanish-speaking worship service.
I was able to murmur a few words in espanol before turning the program back over to Sammy who is blessedly and thankfully bi-lingual.
Here are some facts about our Latino worship community you may not know:
- It is not a separate church. It is the fourth worship service of Good Shepherd. Sammy and I preach essentially the same messages using the same Scriptures. He probably edits out my tennis stories and replaces them with his basketball stories. Whereas in the English services we “invite all people into a living relationship with Jesus Christ,” in the Corner Campus they “invitado a todas personas a una relacion viva con JesuChristo.” It is the same thing. Or, in Spanish, “es lo mismo.”
- Latino communities are hardly monolithic. In our own congregation, for example, we have Cubans, Ecuadorans, Argentinians, Salvadorans, Nicaraguans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Hondurans, and more. The different nationalities bring different customs, assumptions, and even dialects into our Latino community. Fortunately, Sammy and his leadership team have done an excellent job at bringing disparate groups of people into one cohesive body.
- The worship gathering has grown from an average of 60 to an average of 100 just since August. I actually remember the day earlier in 2014 when Sammy and I prayed for exactly that kind of increase.
- Part of that growth is because the Latino Ministry already has a unique multi-site — we have leased a mobile home within a largely Latino mobile home community and from that site provide after school tutoring, refreshments, and invitations to church.
- When we finish building the Living Room, the Latino community will move across Moss Road to a spacious worship area adjoining the “English” Worship Center. Parents will no longer have to dart across a busy street to check in and then collect their children to our KZone and nursery ministries. We will all be connected. A truly “all people” moment will occur.