CHAPTER FIVE RECOMMENDATIONS AND CONCLUSIONS The story of how Chapel Hill UMC, a small, rural church in Middle

Tennessee, developed an effective and enduring multi-ethnic, multi-lingual and multi-national ministry is not a blueprint that other churches will be able to easily use for their own cross cultural work. It involves years of decline, the death of half the resident church members in three days, an accidental fire that destroyed a neighboring church, pastors from across the world brought together at just the right time and a seemingly endless chain of other providential events that make it unrepeatable. But there are a few specific conclusions and recommendations that are worth examining in some detail. These include issues related to churches generally and issues related specifically to churches involved or interested in interethnic ministry, especially Hispanic ministry. It is to these that we now turn. These conclusions and recommendations include treatment of two theological issues: the relationship between interethnic sharing and the recovery of a “movement spirit” through ubuntu and also the relationship between Roman Catholicism and American Protestantism as related to questions of baptism and rebaptism in the Hispanic context. Additionally, some conclusions and recommendations regarding Immigration, Ethnicity, the National Plan for Hispanic Ministry, the “Boy Scout Problem,” Leadership, Church Size, and the role of Cognitive Dissonance in the Church will be presented. These will be followed by Ten Practical Hints for NonHispanic churches pursuing Hispanic Ministry.

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Ubuntu and the Recovery of a “Movement Spirit”

The difference between a movement and an institution is not always obvious, but for purposes of this D.Min. project, reflecting the larger understanding of this issue that seems to have developed within the United Methodist Church, the difference between the two is defined as being that a movement has a spirit of vitality that an institution lacks. It might be said that an institution is an overly mature movement. Chapel Hill was such an institution. It was a neighborhood institution that had fallen into steep decline. Even knowing it was in decline, with capable pastoral leadership to revive it, the church remained so resistant to change, so strongly preferring further decline to change that it was written off as a viable congregation by the pastor and the District Superintendent. In this it seems to mirror many other churches. How then did Chapel Hill become open to God’s future? How did it transition from dying institution to both seeing and being a powerful movement of God’s Spirit? How did it develop a spirit of vitality? Several different things that came together to produce this revival. The most important was the providential development of ubuntu: coming to full humanity through interethnic sharing on an equal basis. However, issues of leadership and organizational flexibility came into play in the development of ubuntu.

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Shared Leadership

In 1998, Herman Henry laid the foundation for the Holy Sunday revival by spreading the leadership of the church around, even to those who were not yet officially members. This was an act of extreme openness; so open it was in clear violation of Paragraph 259.1 of the Book of Discipline1. This in itself was not enough to spark revival, but it was crucial in the survival and then the development of the church in 1999. When Pastor Bienvenido came onto the scene as a participant in a Bible study in 2002, he did not seem a likely candidate for a leadership role at a United Methodist church. He was not a member of the church, did not speak English, was not in the country legally, could not legally drive and had only a 1st grade education. Yet he became an excellent leader long before he became even an official member. If Chapel Hill had restricted its leadership to those approved by the denomination, it would never have been able to be a part of the mighty work of God that its Hispanic ministry represents. When leadership becomes a right or a role, rather than a mission, or when leadership becomes concentrated in the hands of too few, all that needs to be done for the Kingdom of God cannot be done. All the voices that need to be heard will not be heard, especially those from the margins. Sharing leadership certainly does not mean that there is a lack of authority, but rather that those in authority are active and engaged with the mission of the movement or institution. One of the crucial leadership differences between movements and institutions is that in movements, leaders tend to emerge on the basis of dynamic merit related to the mission, while institutions tend to choose leaders based on more complex reasoning, reasons often designed to safeguard the institution. These might include, for example, that all officers

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in a church must also be church members. Such reasons are not bad in and of themselves, but they are restrictive thus typically produce less dynamic leadership. This also means that they tend to produce leadership that is safer for the short term life of the institution. Such leadership tends to be well credentialed, and may be well qualified, but also may be unable, unwilling or uninterested. Movement leadership tends to be far more open and focused on the job at hand. The leadership at Chapel Hill was clearly movement oriented.

Flexibility

Theology drives doctrine, doctrine drives polity. From time to time, the rules and guidelines that an institution or movement develop at one stage of its life are not helpful at another. Movements exhibit the ability to shrug off unhelpful rules that do not contribute to the achievement of their objectives, while institutions, which have inherited polity, can perpetuate the same beyond its useful life, thinking that they must do so to be faithful to their history (or theology.) The reality, however, is that they are failing to be truly faithful to their heritage by being unresponsive to changes in context which call for a reinterpretation of doctrine and polity. This is unfaithful because successful movements are always initiated in a state of flexibility. To fail to do so is to make institutional maintenance the goal rather than the actual goals of the movement. This confusion of ends and means is problematic for main-line denominations. Early American Methodism, clearly a movement in dynamic and open interaction with its surroundings, substantially altered its understanding of a core doctrinal issue, the itinerancy of its ministers, between 1780 and 1830 in response to changes in the context. Its theology did not change, but its

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doctrine certainly did. Likewise, Herman Henry’s openness to new leadership was a response to changing context. When Stephen Sanders invited Williams (sic) Chapel AME to meet with Chapel Hill UMC, breaking many generations of segregation, this was a change in response to a doubly changing context: first the greater racial integration of the society and secondly, the change in the number of places for persons to worship in Riddleton after the fire at Williams Chapel. And when the Anglos at Chapel Hill gave the keys to the church to Pastor Bienvenido, allowing him to schedule meetings and plan as he saw fit in coordination with the Anglos, this was a change in response to context. Movements are flexible in order to achieve their goals. Institutions often lack the courage and ability to change their internal structures even when those structures impede achieving the goals of the organization.

Ubuntu and a Spirit of Openness

The spirit of openness is perhaps the great single difference between movement and institutional spirits. Movements look beyond themselves for strength, truth and vitality. Institutions look inward. The story of Chapel Hill between 1965 and 1999 was one of slow, institutional decline, driven essentially by demographics, that resulted in a very closed church. 1999 began a period of near constant openness to new ways of doing things. Open to the guidance of the pastors and DS, open to hosting an African-American congregation, open to Hispanic ministry, open to a new youth camp, 400 miles away, touted by a new member, open to new cultures and new ideas. Open to the leadership of

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Jesus Christ, not locked into doing it the same old way and with the same old people and getting the same old results. Open to change. Where did this openness come from? Initially it came from a realization of the true peril that the church was in, then from the sharing of leadership. Openness to Williams Chapel emerged from the need or urge to be neighborly. The Hispanic Ministry emerged from both the need or urge to be neighborly and the experience of having been neighborly. Openness, in short, developed one step at a time. Openness is much more than a slogan on a doormat. It is the living history of a church. Unfortunately, many churches, especially churches that have had the time to mature into institutions, fail miserably to exhibit a spirit of openness. They have instead become closed to innovation, to anyone or anything that is truly different. The story of the recovery of Chapel Hill is the story of a people opening themselves to the movement of God’s spirit in their midst. This opening came through the taking of one little step after another: openness to attendees who were not members, openness to a neighboring church that was facing a major short term crisis, openness to learn about ministry possibilities and an openness to new neighbors who speak a different language and have very different cultural backgrounds. One open door led to another. Three doors were not opened at once, nor two, but only one at a time, each in God’s time. It might be argued that Chapel Hill was not really open, that instead, since nearly all who come through the doors at Chapel Hill share rural roots, it was simply a rural church opening itself to other rural folks: that the church was of the tribe of farmer and that shared cultural and economic interests of the rural congregants was not a genuine openness but simply an openness to other farmers. There may be some truth to this, a

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small kernel, but I feel that this explanation alone is not enough to explain the fullness of the welcoming spirit at Chapel Hill. If being of the tribe of farmer were enough, there would not be so many mono-ethnic churches in rural areas. Rather, it seems to me, Williams Chapel was welcomed because they were neighbors in need, because Pastor Sanders was open to the idea, because Pastor Weber had built cross-cultural bridges and had emphasized the need for outreach and, not unimportantly, because Chapel Hill itself had almost ceased to exist. And, perhaps also because it was assumed that Williams Chapel would, like good guests, leave soon enough. However, when Chapel Hill went through the door that God had opened to them in response to the fire at Williams Chapel, God blessed them through the multi-ethnic interaction between black and white. Something special happened between Chapel Hill and Williams Chapel: love began to flourish where it had not before. The people of both churches came to a greater understanding of God, Christianity and of themselves by seeing God, Christianity and themselves in relation to and through the eyes of cultural others. This happened in worship but perhaps more profoundly and deeply during the Sunday School hour, when people could more closely interact. It was a wonderful and powerful example of Desmond Tutu’s ubuntu; the cross-cultural sharing that enriches all individuals who experience it and through them enriches their entire cultures. God uses ubuntu to pour out unbelievably rich blessings into the lives of the faithful. These blessings led Chapel Hill to pursue further blessings through deepened interethnic relationships (and thus ubuntu) in the development of a ministry with Hispanics. It is the author’s contention that the single most important reason that the ministry with Hispanics was launched was the excitement and fulfillment - the ubuntu - experienced when Williams (sic) Chapel was at

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Chapel Hill. It is the author’s further contention that the continued experience of ubuntu in the lives of both Hispanics and Anglos, was an extremely important part of the success of the Hispanic ministry. The real lesson here is not that Chapel Hill was willing to open its doors and host their neighbors, but that when they did so they themselves were strengthened and deepened in every way, first by its relationship with Williams Chapel and eventually through the evolution of what has come to be called Chapel Hill Iglesia. And Chapel Hill’s good stewardship of its space allowed for a blessing to be bestowed upon it: God infused the church with love, peace and power. This is the promise and result of ubuntu. The power of the Holy Spirit that is promised in the Scriptures to the faithful when the church makes disciples “of all nations” came to rest on Chapel Hill. And this power would continue to be with the church as it took advantage of the many opportunities for ministry that God brought it, each of which opened the door for further ministry. Chapel Hill achieved a “movement” rather than an “institutional” sensibility simply by being willing to walk through the doors that God opened for it, doors that were first opened to other churches such as First UMC in Carthage and New Day Christian Ministry in Gallatin. Chapel Hill achieved movement sensibility because it was willing to make disciples of peoples of all ages, nations and races, thus achieving ubuntu. If one looks at the whole story of the church, it might seem that Chapel Hill was divinely guided to a place of unique ministry. The truth is that Chapel Hill was merely exhibiting an openness to walk through the next door that God had opened in front of it. And having walked through that door, it then walked through the next, and then the next, until it found itself in a whole new place. If there is a lesson that can be applied to other

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churches, and to the institution of the church as a whole, it is simply that if churches want to experience transformation from institution to movement spirit, they must simply walk through the doors that God opens before them one at a time as God opens the doors. And when churches do this, they will experience openness that builds upon itself and strengthens the church. While there is certainly beauty and strength in institutionalism, a danger inherent with an institution is that it become too inward focused. Being open to God’s leading can help keep churches from falling into this trap. When a church is further able, through following God’s path for it, to experience meaningful interethnic relationships, which is to experience ubuntu, it will be further strengthened by the power of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps the reason that some churches are extremely resistant to interethnic relationships is because they sense that such relationships will change their church culture, failing to understand that the changes will bring strength. The recommendation of this author in regards to how a church, local or gathered, can have a renewed movement spirit is to pass through each and every door that the Holy Spirit opens before the church. Only through this can the church experience what God has for it. It is the author’s contention that the great division in the church today is not between Protestant and Catholic, which is treated in the next section, but between believers of various nationalities and ethnicities. The church, on the day of Pentecost, was made up of Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs. (Acts 2)

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Thus God designed the church to be the multiethnic, multicultural and multinational. God will bring the church back to this place if the church allows it to happen. If not, the church will become or remain a “dead sect having the form of religion but lacking its power.”2 Perhaps the greatest sin of the church in America is to fail to be a church of all God’s people.

Catholicism and Protestantism: Questions of Baptism and Rebaptism

It is possible to overestimate the conflict between Catholic and Protestant in Mexico and other Central and South American countries. The conflict is not uniform, being stronger, for instance in southern than northern Mexico and more pronounced in rural than urban areas. However, it is unquestionably true that there is far, far greater conflict between Catholicism and Protestantism in Hispanic countries than in the United States.3 Further, for the majority of immigrant Hispanics in the USA, especially those from areas that have high levels of conflict in their countries of origin, the divide is so critical that to be Catholic is to be in opposition to Protestantism. Both Catholics and Protestants in Mexico call each other either “Catholic” or “Christian,” with “Christian” being both synonymous with Protestant, a pejorative term if the speaker is Catholic, celebratory if the speaker is Protestant. There can be little doubt that, in the words of Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry, from the World Council of Churches, Hispanic Protestants and Catholics “call into question the sacramental integrity” of each other’s church.4 Questions about baptism, the need for rebaptism and the validity of infant

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baptism are points of great potential conflict within United Methodism and other forms of American Protestantism over Hispanic ministry. United Methodism has strongly affirmed the validity of baptism in other traditions and infant baptism and thus the invalidity of rebaptism. In this, it falls well within the guidelines of the World Council of Churches teaching on Baptism that: Baptism is an unrepeatable act. Any practice which might be interpreted as ‘rebaptism’ must be avoided.5 At the same time, however, United Methodism has created an official pathway for membership for those coming into the church from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. The guiding document is called Sacramental Faithfulness. It was adopted at the 2000 General Conference and involves what is in effect rebaptism. The several theological differences between Mormonism and United Methodism are pulled together and the recommendation to allow rebaptism is summarized in the following statement from that document: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, by self-definition, does not fit within the bounds of the historic, apostolic tradition of Christian faith. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the LDS church itself, while calling itself Christian, explicitly professes a distinction and separateness from the ecumenical community and is intentional about clarifying significant differences in doctrine. As United Methodists we agree with their assessment that the LDS church is not a part of the historic, apostolic tradition of the Christian faith…. It is our recommendation that following a period of catechesis (a time of intensive exploration and instruction in the Christian faith), such a convert should receive the sacrament of Christian baptism.6 The key to allowing rebaptism in the case of persons coming into the UMC from the LDS is that while LDS baptism is Christian in name, it is not Trinitarian and thus not truly Christian in the sense of the historic, apostolic tradition. Thus the UMC has, contravening the World Council of Churches, “called into question the sacramental

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integrity”7 of the LDS church. This exact same calling into question would be done by those arguing that their original baptism was into ‘the Church of Satan.’ However the situation is not exactly the same. While the LDS itself acknowledges that it is outside the Christian norm, the position of the Roman Catholic Church, especially in Mexico, is exactly the inverse: that it is the norm and that Methodism and Protestantism generally is outside the norm. This is a conundrum. It is my opinion that the UMC need not revisit its understanding of baptism or rebaptism. Neither does the church need an exhaustive interpretation of the theological positions of the Roman Catholic Church in Mexico, as it did of the LDS church. Rather, Methodism should simply allow for pastoral sensitivity in the case of those who believe that their baptism into the Catholic Church was not baptism into the Christian faith at all. Whatever the particulars of such a policy, it must be done with sensitivity to both those Hispanics who are coming into the church from what they understand to be a non-Christian faith and those who join Methodist churches without feeling the need for rebaptism. Both these positions are represented by Hispanic persons at Chapel Hill. What would likely be clearly disastrous for the growth of Hispanic ministry would be an inflexible doctrinal ruling that Hispanics coming from Mexico must in every way conform to the same understanding of baptism that persons coming into the church from American Catholicism do. Catholicism in the USA is different from Catholicism in Mexico. Failure to recognize this difference could lead to the cessation of Hispanic ministry by United Methodists. However disastrous such a failure might be, baptism is not the most important single issue in Hispanic ministry. Immigration is.

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Immigration Issues

Immigration is a critical issue for both the nation and for the church. While this project cannot explain in depth the issues surrounding immigration, there are a few implications that affect the church specifically that need to be considered. Churches with large immigrant populations tend to be cultural refuges where the congregation’s heart language is spoken, where songs from the home country are sung and where fellowship meals include foods familiar from childhood. This pattern is widely followed and well established. It is seen in Ghanaian churches in England, Korean churches in Tennessee, Tongan churches in California and in expatriate churches across the world. Some immigrant churches retain “homeland” traditions for several generations, and most cling to them tightly for at least a full generation. This phenomenon creates special challenges to the development of an immigrant congregation within an established church. Thankfully, an awareness of cultural differences helps churches meet these challenges. Chapel Hill was able to overcome this problem primarily by having developed a large reservoir of trust between Hispanics and Anglos through building a web of trusting and loving relationships. Almost as important was having significant training in cultural differences. Churches (both local churches and larger expressions of the church) without training and without a web of strong relationships will have great difficulty overcoming the natural tensions and misunderstandings that will always arise, even in church, when two cultures come into contact. A short example of how cultural awareness and love can avert problems: in Mexico, one does not flush their toilet paper because in Mexico there is far lower water pressure. Americans are not used

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to seeing dirtied toilet paper in bathrooms. Hence conflict. Where there is a cultural understanding of difference and relationships of love, such conflicts can easily be overcome before they blossom into problems. But if people do not know and do not communicate, such minor issues can be misinterpreted as personal affronts and grow into conflicts that can grow into serious misunderstandings and have ruinous effects.

Undocumented Immigration

Immigrants to the United States without proper legal documentation face special challenges and these challenges affect churches. Many persons from many nations, Spanish speaking and otherwise, share this reality. This shapes the lives of immigrants in many ways and thus shapes the churches that persons are affiliated with at a very central level. Persons who are in the USA without proper documentation are unable to get a social security number and thus are severely limited from participating in the banking system. Thus immigrant families and churches tend to be all cash, which creates special problems of control and accountability. How, for example, could an all-cash church pay its apportionments? Persons without a Social Security number face substantial difficulties in accessing many other basic services. The previously mentioned difficulty with filling out a FASFA represents a long-term difficulty for the church in leadership development. Further, persons who are in the USA without proper documentation are prone to put down fewer roots. Thus Hispanic congregations must deal with a far higher level of turnover than non-Hispanic congregations. One young family at Chapel Hill had moved from Mexico to Oregon to California to Tennessee in the space of eight years. Three of

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their children were born in Oregon, a fourth in California and a fifth in Tennessee. Further, persons who are in the USA without proper documentation are unable to get drivers licenses, turning minor traffic stops into major issues and affecting when and where people feel safe to drive to church. But perhaps most importantly, persons who are in the USA without proper documentation live in constant fear of deportation. Deportation has devastating effects of families, including economic ruin for families here and in Mexico and extreme marital instability. If a spouse disappears for whatever reason, perhaps only being an hour late coming home from work, the remaining spouse may well be afraid to call the police for fear of deportation, which usually means parents being separated from their children. Thus the immigrant church, especially when the congregation has significant numbers of undocumented members, has a greatly magnified role that many other churches share: it is a place of refuge from the extreme storms of life.8 An example of the disruption in the lives of persons that deportation can cause even to those not deported from Chapel Hill was the failure of a restaurant/store that Pastor Bienvenido, Brother Cocina and several other congregants had pooled their money, time and talent to create. The business, in Gallatin TN, had gotten off the ground and was doing better than expected. It was busy at lunchtime every day with a clientele that was mostly made up of undocumented workers at a local dog food mill. Then one afternoon, nobody showed up for lunch. The owner of the dog food mill had called in the INS to clear out his work force, right before payday, a common practice at the time. (Criminal penalties in Tennessee for hiring such workers have been dramatically increased, thus unintentionally curbing this practice.) The restaurant struggled along for a

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few more months, but ultimately closed. This failure impacted the relationships of persons in the church and led one Hispanic family, partners in the business, to leave the church. This example is quite mild emotionally, compared to families being torn apart, which is not uncommon, but does go to show the depth of the influence of the immigration situation on the population as a whole. Churches have to be aware of the difficulties faced by undocumented immigrants if they hope to minister to them. What can be learned from this is that churches, local and gathered, can do tremendous good by becoming places of solace and healing. Further, churches can partner together to help ease the crisis in immigration policy at a grass roots level by helping pull together groups like Justice For Our Neighbors, which works to help persons make legal application for citizenship. Churches can also help ease the difficulties of immigrant life through three layers of direct assistance, all of which occurred from time to time at Chapel Hill and that larger churches and groups of churches do on a more regular basis. These are medical ministries, food and clothing ministries, and ministries that aim to help people tie into the larger societal programs that are available to them, such as the school system and ESL programs. However it often seems that the greatest good that churches can do for immigrants, especially undocumented immigrants, is to simply be the church for all people. The antagonism against undocumented aliens in the USA today is emotionally taxing. The threat of deportation is taxing. The separation from folks at home is taxing. The church can be a haven where the love and joy of the family of God can be experienced in its wonderful fullness.

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Religious Leadership in the Undocumented Church

The high level of Hispanic immigration since 1990 has caused an explosion in the need for religious leadership that is able to speak the heart language of Mexicans, Guatemalans and those from other Hispanic countries. However there is a severe shortage of persons credentialed to do this work across the world. While there are very likely sufficient numbers of such pastors in the USA, the reality that many of them lack legal documents makes their direct employment a violation of Federal law. Many churches, however, have found creative and truly helpful ways to support these pastors that are well within the law, such as bringing gifts of groceries or supplying transportation, though the reality remains that those pastors who are without legal documentation are severely limited in developing their congregations in many ways. It is a painful irony that those pastors who are legally able to immigrate to do religious work are typically from a higher social status than the undocumented workers they come to minister to and thus must cross cultural bridges often as high as those faced by non-Hispanics. One way that churches can solve this problem is for undocumented Hispanic pastors to work together with documented pastors to create ministry teams. Another solution is for churches to work together to bring about change at a national level, but such change is very slow in coming. It seems that the most effective strategy is for the church to be open to whatever God brings along, especially being open to all persons in their communities and offer a place of love and sanctuary where people, at least while they are at church, are no longer citizens or aliens, but are Christian brothers and sisters.

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Tensions around immigration create powerful opportunities for churches to be the people of God for those who are in very vulnerable situations. The immigration problem is far, far beyond the ability of any church to solve, but it is also a chance for every church to stand along side its communities’ newest members in their moments of great pain and be the church for them. Churches that do this serve as ambassadors for Christ by bringing peace and healing to immigrants.

Black – Brown – White: Ethnic Issues There is a distinctly American idea that there are only two “races:” white and nonwhite.9 America’s fallacious, bi-polar understanding of race10 has distorted our collective understanding of many, if not every, major issue we face. W.E.B. Du Bois was wrote accurately in 1903 that: “The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line.”11 Almost 100 years later, George Yancey would echo his words: “…racism is part of what makes America what it is. It is our history and our culture.”12 The church, though it sings songs that to some extent expanded this bipolar idea of race in its popular definition of persons as “red and yellow, black and white,” has essentially bought into the logically fallacious but emotionally powerfully idea of “white” and “non-white” as the only two real racial options. Today, the fast paced growth Hispanics in the United States has created a very large category of persons in the US who are not culturally, ethnically, linguistically, historically or biologically assignable as white, but also seem to fall beyond the bounds of what has traditionally been understood as the nonwhite population. Thus the U.S. generally as well as American churches specifically face a period of redefinition around

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the ideas of race and ethnicity. The color-line has been disturbed and this will have profound, long-reaching, unforeseen and important affects in and on the USA. This section of this paper deals with the impact of Hispanics on the color line. It will briefly sketch several possible changes to the social norms in the USA and then ponder what these might mean for the church. The author has come to believe, through his own experiences and reading on the topic, that the color-line, both ongoing discrimination and the historic divide between blacks and whites is often a greater barrier to ethnic interaction than the linguistic and cultural barriers between Hispanics and other ethnic groups. Linguistic and cultural barriers can be overcome with effort. English speakers can learn Spanish, Hispanics can learn English. Cultural differences can be ameliorated by reading, learning, traveling and develop friendships with those from other cultures. In short, we can learn how to live with a somewhat better cross-cultural understanding. For example, I have learned to engage in what seems to me, as an Anglo and an introvert, to be endless hours of small talk when working with my friends from Mexico. And my small attempts at cross-cultural understanding are trifling compared to how much Hispanics immigrants to the USA are learning about the various American cultures every day. The reality that Hispanic and general American culture are coming closer and closer is well documented.13 And, thankfully, at the same time there seems to be lessening of black-white tensions across the US, what Stephen Talty calls the growth of the “mulatto present,”14 somewhere between Alicia Keys, Tiger Woods and Oprah Winfrey. But even Oprah’s 21st Century America is left with the ugly scar of what whites did to blacks over the past 400+ years and continue to do in many ways. Yancey writes: “Whites who live today have

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either directly or indirectly benefited from the fact that their ancestors had an advantage over my ancestors.”15 Though fading, this historical racial divide is quite present and may prove to be far more difficult to overcome than any language or cultural gaps. The reality that haunts black–white relationships in the USA today, even with much progress in race relations, is that blacks worked for whites for 300 years without pay and with cruel exploitation, then whites denied blacks full citizenship for another 100 years while continuing other forms of exploitation. This scar is a deep and probably permanent marring of the American psyche. It is certainly a scar that is reflected in our churches, both on the local and the denominational level. The rapid growth of the Hispanic population throws a kink into the American understanding of race. Are Hispanics an ethnic group? Are they a racial group? Some look white, some look black, some look tan, some look brown, some look Aztec. One night at Chapel Hill, chatting and practicing my Spanish with a brother, I asked him where he was from in Mexico. He stopped. His eyes got wide. He responded in an angry stage whisper “I am NOT Mexican. I am NOT Hispanic. I AM A NICARAGUAN!” Thankfully, his anger was in jest and the whole table turned, looked and laughed. But he made his point. The only place that Hispanics exist is in the United States. Everywhere else, the phrase is meaningless. However it is that Hispanics find themselves grouped and classified, they represent a clear challenge to what were already muddy waters about what race was and is in America. If, in fact, “Hispanic” is a racial or ethnic identity, but is based on the language one speaks and country of origin, which is the essence of the U.S. Census Bureau’s definition of “Hispanic,” a definition that takes several dense pages to explain,16

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then Hispanics are an ethnic group like no other, defined almost solely by the reality that they are neither black or white. They are ontologically across the color line. Where then, will the color line be drawn in the future? There seem to be several possibilities. A few of the most likely follow. One traditional path would be that Hispanics, after a few generations, could melt into the rest of white America and the nation could be back to two races. This trajectory has a long history, with the Italian and Irish immigrant experiences being normative. If a “race” is primarily defined by speaking a different language and being from a different country, both of which were true for Italians and the Irish, and is true for Hispanics now, this would seem a more likely course. Another traditional path would be that Hispanics, after a few generations, could melt into the rest of non-white America and the nation could again be back at two races. This trajectory also has a long history, with the African-American experience being the most normative but the Native American experience being the oldest. While this is certainly possible and will, at least to a small extent, certainly occur, it seems to me to be a less likely course than any other of the trajectories due to the broad movement of American culture away from racial animosity. Another trajectory would be for Hispanics to retain their culture and language in America and thus, over time, emerge as a “third race.” While there seems to be great anxiety about this possibility in some quarters, perhaps because it has happened to some extent in southern California with the emergence of Chicano culture,17 it is far outside the norm in American history. No group has ever fully emerged separate from the American bipolar definition of humanity as white or non-white. And yet, several reasons can be

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offered for the possibility of an historic shift: the proximity of Mexico, the growth of communication technologies and the sheer size of the immigrant population.18 Additionally, there is support for this possibility from both liberal and conservative thinkers. Liberals arguing in favor of multiculturalism and conservatives arguing for free markets both are essentially arguing for a non-assimilated population.19 Perhaps the most encouraging trajectory is a fourth: that Hispanics would help diminish racial disharmony in the USA. That ‘brown’ would so shake up the game between black and white so that it would finally fade. Ed Morales calls the movement towards this possibility “Living in Spanglish” and defines Spanglish as …the active state of cultural mixing… of belonging to at least two identities at the same time and not being confused or hurt by it.20 While this is an encouraging vision for the future, the reality of mixing not two but three or more cultures, of belonging to not two but three or more identities at the same time: black, brown and white, may take many, many years to realize. It would be a fundamental shift in American culture. The church must be aware that ethnic issues are not as apparently dichotomous as they have seemed to be in the past. Simply put, Hispanics are not a people group in the same way that most persons in the USA have defined race or ethnicity. Hispanics do not share one culture, one language and certainly do not share one history. Nicaraguans are not Mexicans are not Guatemalans are not Puerto Ricans are not…. Further, people from all these places are in fast transition into being culturally American, though what exactly this will come to mean is hard to understand and how this will change America (beyond spicier food) is also a mystery.

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As churches and denominations struggle to understand how to cope with the growth of the Hispanic population in the USA, some are opting to create Hispanic congregations that are separate in every way from Anglo and African-America churches. This is exactly the opposite of the Chapel Hill experience and is a painful reflection of the traditional American understanding of race relations, which is essentially that the races should be separate. While there are some specific advantages to such congregations, essentially the benefits of homogeneity, such churches are, by design, unable to experience the many blessings of inter-ethnic exchange. Thus they are ontologically unlike the church that was created at Pentecost, a church, it bears repeating, of: Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs. (Acts 2) Jesus himself emphasized the universal nature of the church, saying: Go therefore and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) and Repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations. (Luke 24:47) It is thus my contention that homogenous churches in parishes with a diverse (all nation) population have sacrificed God’s plan for the church for human expediency. The parish church should contain a mixture of all persons in the parish. To fail to do so is to do church in a way that is vastly and essentially different from the church in Acts. One way to achieve the richness of multi-ethnic congregations within our current situation is to conceptualize Hispanic ministry as a part of the larger ministry of congregations. This requires a hope that Hispanic ministries may or may not develop into Spanish language

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services that may or may not develop into full fellowships themselves. This requires openness to separate language/culture services within one church.

National Plan for Hispanic Ministry The United Methodist Church’s National Plan for Hispanic Ministry has several faults that make it cumbersome at best. It seems to lack an understanding of the differences between the needs of first generation and the second and third generation Hispanic-Latino communities, which are radically differing populations. It has failed to foster the production of Wesleyan resources for the population causing many Hispanic Sunday Schools to rely on Southern Baptist or Assemblies of God publications. More generally, it seems to have failed to cast a vision so that the church sees this population as a mission field. Instead the church seems to want to see immediate return on any investment without an understanding that missional outreach today will bring fruit in the future.21 Often, these faults rotate around a lack of consideration about how to do ministry with the undocumented and a lack of courage to talk about such issues. However, the NPHM has virtue as well as vice. The NPHM was essential in the launching of the work at Chapel Hill because it helped provide the leadership of Eduardo and Vanessa Aler-Ortiz. Without them, without the NPHM, Chapel Hill’s work would not have happened. Though not single person at Chapel Hill had heard of the National Plan except the pastor, and he was not familiar with it in any detail, Chapel Hill used the NPHM as well as any church anywhere through reliance on personnel whose funding was partly from the NPHM.

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Clearly, the NPHM must be understood as a national plan, not a plan for specific churches. The NPHM makes available resources to help local churches plan ministry, but it is not a blueprint nor has a blueprint that will work in every situation. The NPHM is built around the understanding that churches have to find their way in Hispanic ministry in much the same way as they do in Anglo or African-American ministry; with the guidance of the larger church and in response to the community. There is no magic, perfect plan for any specific church or context. Any plan that had been drawn up at Chapel Hill would have been a miserable failure. Who, but God, could have planned and executed the long, mysterious chain of providence that occurred at Chapel Hill? The NPHM is designed to allow for the movement of God to take place, not as an institutional plan for the church. The Boy Scout Problem The Boy Scout problem is the author’s name for the propensity of churches to find one group in the church that is the standard default group that gets blamed for everything. Typically, this is the messiest group that is also the furthest from the center of power in a church. Often it is the youth group, but if a church has a Boy Scout Troop, they are almost invariably blamed for every mess that gets made, probably because they make many of them. However, if an ethnically different congregation sprouts wings within another church, that congregation quickly becomes the Boy Scouts. The Boy Scout problem is particularly problematic for such congregations because tensions that most churches expect to work through (such as conflicts over space or cleanliness or scheduling) can be seen as toxic signals to immigrant Hispanic church leadership that they need to move on. Rather than working through conflicts that other

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groups would hammer out, immigrant churches may wither and die or simply disappear, leaving everyone on both sides frustrated. As Chair of the Committee for Hispanic Ministries in the Tennessee Conference, I have seen non-Hispanic congregations (both black and white) invest significant time and money into efforts towards Hispanic ministry only to have those ministries fail, fracture or simply disappear for reasons that seemed quite minor to the established church but overwhelming to the Hispanic involved. These have often included easily worked through scheduling and clean-up problems. I have also counseled Hispanic church leaders to go to the pastors of the churches they are in conflict with and hash out the details of the conflict rather than make assumptions about why events were unfolding as they were. Sometimes things are the fault of the Hispanic congregation, sometimes the fault of others. Either way, communication is exceptionally important but often lacking. Occasionally, Hispanic ministries grow larger than expected. Rather than greeting this with joy, churches sometimes come to see the Hispanic ministries they have helped birth as a very large Boy Scout Troop that is threatening to the life of the original church. This happened to some extent at Chapel Hill in 2006 after the weakening of the English side of the congregation in 2005. The response at Chapel Hill was to work to restore the vitality of the English congregation, a response that worked reasonably well. What has happened in other places from time to time is that the Hispanic side of a church has been subtly and not to subtly sabotaged when the originating congregations realizes that either the church as a whole is on the verge of moving from being a mono-ethnic congregation with an Hispanic ministry to a truly multi-ethnic congregation or when an Hispanic

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congregation simply outgrows the original congregation. Either way, the central problem is an inability to manage growth. Several things complicate the Boy Scout problem for Hispanic congregations. Primary on this list is that an entire congregation is harder to move than a Boy Scouts Troop. Additionally, churches are made up of people of all ages, not just children. Thus the sense of rejection they feel is quite different and more profound. It is very painful to any congregation and to the individuals in that congregation, especially to an immigrant church, when another church rejects them, even unintentionally. It is both a theological and a personal rejection. Perhaps of greatest importance, if a church treats a congregation or a service as if it were a more or less expendable program, that church is valuing cleanliness and order more than the Kingdom of God. I shudder at the realization that some of the pastors and lay leaders in my own conference will one day stand before Jesus and have to explain that they aborted Hispanic ministries in their church because they were more concerned with the church staying clean than with seeking and saving the lost or caring for the needs of the poor. Such leaders fail to see that Hispanic and other ethnic ministries are in fact accomplishing the overall mission of a church in conjunction with a white or black congregation. The Boy Scout problem cannot be eliminated from the church. However, its impact on Hispanic ministry can be lessened in several ways. Pastoral commitment and understanding of the purposes of ministry are essential. Good communication between laity of all ethnicities and all pastors is further essential because it builds and maintains cross-cultural bridges. Ideally, both English and Hispanic pastors can serve as pastors to the whole church and be known widely by both congregations. Of course, it is absolutely

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essential that pastors be in close communication with one another. Additionally, the higher the level of cultural training that exists in the congregations, the more understanding both Hispanic and non-Hispanic congregations will be of each other. English pastors must work to educate Hispanic parishioners and Hispanic pastors must work to educate English parishioners. And this work never ends.

Leadership

Congregations embrace Hispanic ministry for one of two general reasons: either because ethnic inclusion is a core value of the church or because some other core value in the church implores it to work with Hispanics.22 Either way, the role of leadership, on both lay and clergy sides, is critical. Chapel Hill is the story of a church that began its multi-ethnic ministry (with Williams Chapel) as a reflection of its core value of neighborliness. However, after experiencing the warmth, joy and growth of ubuntu while joined with Williams Chapel, Chapel Hill came to value racial inclusion for its own sake. When Williams Chapel moved into its own space, Chapel Hill began to ask itself “What’s next?” and the answer that presented itself, Hispanic ministry, fulfilled both the traditional neighborliness value and the nascent multi-ethnic value. What leadership lessons can we draw from this unique church? Lay Leadership One reason to engage lay leadership in cultural and language training is that such training will show to the Hispanics interested in a church that the church really does care

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about them as persons. That Americans were learning Spanish was the reason Pastor Bienvenido was interested in initially coming to Chapel Hill. Hispanics have learned to be wary of English speaking churches that welcome them through the front door and are ready to push them out the back a month later. Churches that take the time to learn are not likely to fall into this trap. However, it must be stressed that cultural training is very important in its own right for the laity, especially those who want to be involved in Hispanic ministry. Many of the leaders of the laity at Chapel Hill were trained in cross-cultural ministry in the series of meetings with Vanessa and Eduardo Ortiz. Such training, which included both cross-cultural interaction generally, Hispanic culture specifically, and some level of language training, is essential for a good Hispanic ministry. If lay leadership is willing to be trained, the likelihood of a successful ministry increases greatly. Unlike the Boy Scouts, Hispanic ministries almost always impact the life of the whole church. Often this is cause for great joy, but, especially as a ministry grows, it is also a for cause of significant tensions. Without an understanding of cultural differences, these tensions can grow into real problems. Hispanic ministry needs a core group of supporters who not only believe in Hispanic ministry but who buy into it enough to be trained and to work in the ministry, even if that only means bringing a cheesy casserole dish every week, smiling a lot and stumbling through a few basic Spanish greetings. These things mean more than can be calculated to a person whose normative experience of non-Hispanics is essentially hostile. They are the actions of a family. Well done Hispanic ministry, especially in areas where the Hispanic presence is new and growing, is not ministry done

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for Hispanics nor is it ministry by Hispanics, but it is a cooperative ministry between ethnic groups who are working for the Kingdom. What churches often seem to fail to grasp when they begin a ministry program with Hispanics is that they are inviting real, living, adults who have thoughts, plans, beliefs, money, histories, talents, problems, lives, customs, habits, dreams and all the other things that make us human, including messy children, into their church. What happens then can be wonderful, if the church adapts, but it can also be very, very messy if the church tries to go back to where it was before “they” began coming to “our” church. Churches need to expect to change if they expect their Hispanic ministry to be a success. New members change every church. How much greater the change if those new members are from another culture! How much more challenging if most of those new members speak Spanish and therefore worship separately from the English-speaking congregation! One of the most important roles of the non-Hispanic lay leadership is to interpret to the rest of the non-Hispanic congregation what the changes really are and what they mean. For instance, that it is a good thing when the electric, water and gas bills are all higher because it means we are using our building more. Not a bad thing when the electric, water and gas bills are all higher because “they” are using “our” building more. Perhaps the most critical role that lay leadership plays is to bridge the chasm between cultures and languages that can end Hispanic ministry before it takes wings or shoot it down when it does. This chasm is what happens when the real differences between persons harden into the false lines of “us” and “them.”

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Clergy Leadership Clerical leadership is terribly important as well. If the English pastor is not actively supportive of Hispanic ministry in his or her church, such ministry will not happen. Even in those churches where Hispanic ministry is in place when a clergy person arrives, the inevitable tensions between groups in the church will most likely destroy any Hispanic ministry or keep it from growing if the pastor is not actively involved. Pastors must at least attempt to have their fingers on the pulse of the whole church. This does not mean that they have to control everything, but that they have to have a good idea about where things are going. To fail to do so is to fail in one of the most basic responsibilities of a pastor: to order the life of the church. What this meant for me at Chapel Hill was that most every Sunday I went to the services. I did not preach, I did not lead the music, I did not always pray publicly. Most Sundays, my role at the Hispanic service was no more involved than that of the average congregant. I listened, prayed, sang, gave an offering, and, to be honest, fell asleep once or twice during the service, to the great delight of all the kids. What mattered was that I was there. I did not often understand everything that was going on, I did not often arrive at the beginning of every service, and occasionally, but not often, I left before dinner. But I was there. The ministry of presence is vitally important. Additionally, non-Hispanic pastors have to make an even more serious effort at understanding Hispanic culture and learn at least as much Spanish as the laity working with the Hispanic ministry. Hispanics tend to see their pastors as authority figures and since Hispanic culture tends to be more relationally oriented than Anglo culture, a pastor who is essentially uninterested in Hispanic ministry, who does not show up, is not neutral

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but is instead a barrier to ministry. The rudiments of what a pastor needs to know are listed in the upcoming “Practical Lessons” section of this D.Min. project. A pastor does not need in any way to be an expert in Hispanic ministry. Not at all. There are no, or at least precious few, experts in this area any way. It is an emerging field. The pastor does need to have a little training, a little more interest, and a heart of love for all of God’s children.

Hispanic Leadership

Hispanic leadership in an evolving Hispanic ministry is absolutely crucial. And it is also difficult to find. There is such a crunch of credentialed Hispanic leadership in churches in both the US and Mexico that recently an Hispanic writer for a denominational publication in Nashville was recalled by his bishop in Mexico to serve a church there even though he was preparing to launch an Hispanic ministry in a local Anglo church in Nashville. But churches should not be paralyzed by this difficulty. They can work together to bring a missionary from Mexico or from areas of the United States with established Hispanic populations. Large churches can do so without partners, and have often do so very effectively. One of the lessons of Chapel Hill is that even small churches can find such leadership. Often denomination leadership can help in this area. One of the key roles of the Hispanic leadership of a ministry is to serve as cultural interrupters and working partners of the non-Hispanic pastor or denominational group. A Hispanic pastor who is in regular contact with a broad number of persons in the nonHispanic congregation(s) will be better placed when problems arise to deal with them

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quickly and efficiently. Additionally, they will be able to drum up support for their work easily. This type of work is all about avoiding falling into the “us and them” trap. While there are issues that naturally divide, from both a Hispanic and a non-Hispanic perspective, these must be kept in perspective and the gift of the essential unity of the Church must be honored in the local church. One way that this can be done is for Hispanic church leaders to have two broad support groups: one that is essentially Hispanic and one that is at the crossroads of cultures. The first provides a place to speak the heart language; the second is a place to hear the words of others in honest dialogue. Leadership Summary Providing Anglo leadership for Hispanic ministry has proven to be no different than providing ministry leadership for any other comprehensive program in the church. It takes perhaps a bit more training time, especially if the leaders involved have no real understanding of Hispanic culture, but due to the incredible growth of the Hispanic population, written materials about how to understand Hispanic culture are readily available. (See the Bibliography for quite a few options.) What is most important to realize is that Hispanic ministry is, essentially, the invitation of a whole new group of people into a church. It will change the church. The same skills and practices that make for good leadership in non-Hispanic churches make for good leadership in churches that include Hispanic ministry. Finding Hispanic leadership can be a challenge. Chapel Hill was greatly blessed by the leadership that walked in its doors. Other churches would be wise to be open to God’s leading in this manner. It is likely the first and greatest challenge of the non-

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Hispanic leadership of a church is to find Hispanic leadership. Churches should pray hard that Jesus would provide leadership for his Latino lambs.

Small Churches – Large Churches

One of the key conclusions from the experience of the Chapel Hill church is that church size is not a limit to the effectiveness of ministry. Chapel Hill was and is a small, rural church. All it really did was open its doors to its neighbors. Large churches have resources that can help them develop ministries that are effective in many ways, but that does not mean that small churches cannot be in ministry. In fact, I have come to believe that, at least in Tennessee, small churches can have a tremendous impact in Hispanic ministry. The beauty of small, family sized churches is that they are intimate enough to act as surrogate families for the great number of persons who are isolated from their families. Whole churches can welcome new families, which happened time and time again at Chapel Hill. The difficulty with this is that small churches tend to have already gathered into a family unit and it is difficult for anyone to become a part of the already established family. Except, perhaps, for new neighbors. In a large church, there are many groups coming and going. Hispanics can just become another group. In a small church, they can become part of the family. Smaller established churches may have an additional advantage over larger, newer churches in the development of Hispanic ministry in regards to their facilities. Certainly, the most important factor in being a welcoming congregation is that the people of the church be open and hospitable. However, many immigrants may be a bit uncomfortable

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with the (relative) opulence that is often associated with larger churches. The only really opulent buildings in many immigrants’ hometowns were the Catholic churches. While this is in no way a blanket statement, the “heart language” of a great number of Hispanic immigrants is probably harder to speak in a fancy building with new carpet, polished brass, good air conditioning and bathrooms that smell like lilacs than it would be in a simpler structure. Small churches in parishes with considerable growth in their Hispanic population have significant advantages over larger churches in developing ministry with those in their parish. Such churches should not wait for the denomination or the big church downtown to share the love of Jesus, though it would be certainly appropriate to partner with and access the resources of those entities.

The Role of Cognitive Dissonance in the Church

One of the experiences that clearly helped transform Chapel Hill was its almost being closed. The threat of closure created a great sense of cognitive dissonance in the minds of those in and around the church. When it became evident that closure was a real possibility, people, including the pastor, were forced to think differently about the church. Those who loved and cared for the church, members and nonmembers, came to understand that it had to change at a core level and change soon. Quite often it seems that churches know they need to change, but are unable to actually make any changes. Sometimes this is because of differences in opinion about whether a church should change. Sometimes it is differences in opinion about how a

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church should change. Sometimes it is apathy among leadership and/or the body of the church. Perhaps most often, people are unwilling to change because of the threat that change might cause some level of pain. Many churches have a culture that has failed or is failing, but not failing fast enough for enough people to respond to the alarm bells that they hear ringing. Things don’t seem likely to fall apart today, so why worry? Chapel Hill made two major attempts to change when they added their kitchen in the 1970’s and renovated the sanctuary in the 1980’s, indicating that the church was at some level open to change. Rev. Weber, however, found the congregation strongly unwilling to go past these changes during his tenure in the mid 1990’s. Only the threat of closure really got the church on the road to revitalization. I have no specific recommendations as to how to create the kind of cognitive dissonance that seemed to motivate Chapel Hill to real and lasting change. However it is clear that cognitive dissonance can be used to create change if the contradictory thoughts that create the cognitive dissonance are all viable and real. For example, at Chapel Hill there really was an underlying love for the church and desire for it to continue. There was also the threat to close the church that had been floating around for at least a year or so without creating any change. When two members of the church died in three days, however, suddenly the possibility of the church closing became real enough that people began to act on what they already knew: that if the church was to continue it would have to change. Thus a general recommendation that can be drawn from the experience at Chapel Hill is that a real threat to the mission of a church should spark change. What happens then is impossible to predict. The creation of cognitive dissonance is a powerful tool for

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creating change, though it must be paired with good leadership (lay and clergy) to actually move a church forward. It is not enough to create dissonance; leadership must also provide a clearly annunciated vision that will help the church move its mission forward in the face of dissonance. One of the continuing legacies of the creation of cognitive dissonance at Chapel Hill was that the lay leadership gained clarity about its responsibility in carrying out the mission of the church. It seems unlikely that those specific persons who learned this lesson at Chapel Hill will forget it, but they will not be in leadership forever. Part of pastoral leadership is to help the church understand its mission.

Summative Thoughts Chapel Hill holds several lessons for the church. Perhaps the most interesting is that a small church can do amazing things when it simply shows openness to doing the will and the work of God where it is. That is really all that happened at Chapel Hill. There was never a big plan, never a long-term strategy, no demographic studies, no crunching of the numbers, and, aside from the meeting held by the Hispanic congregation when they were considering if their growth meant they needed to find a new building, not even an official meeting. The church just responded when God called. Other churches will very likely find it unwise to proceed without planning, but there can be too much planning and not enough response to God. When the fields are ripe for harvest, the workers need to get out into the fields, not stand in the barns planning the work. A second clear and seemingly contradictory lesson is that workers must be trained, even if this means a slight delay in getting to the harvest. The few months that a

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church needs to spend in preparation for ministry with Hispanics will pay years of dividends. A third lesson is that leadership matters. This is a time for bold leadership to capture a moment in the history of the Kingdom of God in the United States that will never come again: the growth of the Hispanic population. No matter where the Latinization of the United States actually ends up going, the church is called to respond now. A fourth lesson is that eating together breaks down cultural barriers faster than anything else. Churches that eat together are together. Churches that do not eat together lack an essential element of fellowship. A final lesson is that multi-cultural ministry is harder work that mono-cultural ministry, and that one of the additional rewards of such work is the recovery of the movement spirit that characterized the New Testament church. Multi-dimensional ministry creates openness through providential ubuntu. Openness leads to an outpouring of the Spirit.

10 Practical Lessons from Chapel Hill for Churches Interested in Hispanic Ministry

1. Engage In Other Multi-Ethnic Ministry Experiences: (Crawl Before You Walk) One lesson from Chapel Hill for non-Hispanic churches interested in Hispanic ministry is that Hispanic ministry is a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and often multinational experience. Such experiences are usually quite powerful, especially for churches that have been historically mono-cultural. At the very least, they are powerful for those

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persons in the churches who are involved with “multi” ministries. As such, it is not a simple, easy, compartmentalized or safe thing for a church to do because it very likely will change the congregation’s understanding of itself. As a church changes, or as a part of a church changes, especially if the change is unexpected, there may be a negative reaction to whatever is stimulating change. A church that has had other multi-ethnic experiences: limited ones such as pulpit exchanges or more involved exchanges such as holding a VBS jointly with a church of another ethnic group, will be more likely to deal with the changes that a Hispanic ministry might bring in a more efficient manner. Hispanic ministry, unlike a pulpit exchange or a VBS, has no natural ending point. Once begun, it should continue in perpetuity just like the Sunday School or worship service. It is not temporary. It is a reflection of changes in the broader culture. Thus it is wise for churches to engage in temporary inter-ethnic exchange ministries before making the lifelong commitments and long-term investments needed for Hispanic ministry. Well-done inter-ethnic exchanges should teach congregations that change due to inter-ethnic ministry is good for the church. Such experiences will both energize a church, as most missional experiences do, but it will also help a church see that its culture is not the only way to understand and experience the Christian faith. The realization on the part of a congregation that there are other valid ways to be Christian and to do church, ways rooted in other cultures, is both an opening and an energizing force that will help a congregation break out of any institutional doldrums that it might be experiencing to experience the movement of God in a fresh new way. Multi-ethnic ministry often seems to create a sense of movement where there was little before. This is a movement that

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builds from success to success. It is far better for a church and for the Kingdom for a smaller multi-ethnic project to go well than for a large one to fail. Crawl before you walk.

2. Ministry Can Take Many Shapes and Will Evolve (Walk Before You Run) The Hispanic ministry at Chapel Hill began as a training session coupled with a Bible Study. ESL and SSL classes were tacked on, soccer games were played, dinners were shared, a prayer service evolved, then a worship service and finally a congregation emerged. Other churches have had Hispanic ministries grow out of their existing clothes closet or food bank as their parish evolved. Some churches have made significant investments in time and money to launch powerful worship experiences as a way of launching a new ministry. Others have invested time and money in creating medical clinics and food banks targeted to help immigrants. Other Hispanic ministries have begun with house churches. Ministries have been created and have grown up in such completely different ways that there is not a strongly discernable pattern.23 Hispanic ministry is in a relative infancy stage in the USA outside of California, Texas, Florida and parts of urban areas across the nation. No one, from Mexico or Missouri, really knows what it means for the traditional American church to be involved with Hispanic ministry. All churches are free to invent new things at the juncture of cultures and faith traditions. One church may be called to devote huge amounts of its resources to Hispanic ministry; another may just begin to see an increase in the number of immigrants at their food pantries. All expressions of ministry are valid. What is terribly important for every church is to go through the door that God has opened for it. This often means intentionally opening the doors of the church just a little

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bit wider than they had been before. Once a church does so, God will evolve the ministry that results and then open another door for ministry. The church must then choose to go through that door. God will then strengthen and bless the ministry that emerges until opening yet another door. God will allow a church to crawl, then walk, and finally run. And where God takes the church is God’s business. 3. Bundling Programming Having a group of programs offered at the same time: Bible Study, ESL, SSL, soccer, worship and dinner, helped Chapel Hill. The Sunday afternoon programming allowed for deep relationships to build and made programming changes easier because the general commitment was to be at church on Sunday and the specifics of what was done on Sunday could evolve fairly easily.

4. Cultural and Linguistic Training When the door that God opens for a church involves Hispanic ministry, cultural training that leads to cultural sensitivity is absolutely essential. Without a loving understanding of some of the basics of Hispanic culture, more specifically the emerging “Spanglish” culture in the USA, which is exactly what the youth at Chapel Hill meant when they called one another “Mexitean,” churches will fail in all but the most basic ministries with Hispanics. Language training is less imperative, but if, in general, the members of a church are at least able to greet visitors in the visitor’s language, the ministry will be off to a far better start than if no one is able to tell a visitor where the bathrooms are.

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Conversely, churches that are unable to get a large enough core group interested in language and cultural training are probably not be ready for Hispanic Ministry. Perhaps a less involved or time limited multi-ethnic ministry could be attempted. The following are a few key cultural differences and linguistic essentials that emerged at Chapel Hill. Everybody has a culture – Every person has someplace that they come from. No one’s culture is right or wrong. It just is. Churches also have cultures. Some are more Gospel oriented and some less so. All imperfectly reflect their local culture. Chapel Hill’s culture, prior to the beginnings of the Hispanic ministry, was rural, but not poor. Redneck, but educated. Chapel Hill has the kind of culture where parishioner’s conversation moves easily between abstract art and hunting, both of which are looked on approvingly. The Hispanic ministry deepened this culture. Art and hunting remain, but health care and education for the poor have ascended in importance. And the kids go back and forth between soccer and skateboards. It is extremely helpful in multi-ethnic ministry if both church and pastor have an understanding of their own cultural makeup. The accurate naming of a churches’ culture is not easy, but it is helpful. A clear understanding by leadership of how their psyches have been shaped by culture is essential. A church that understands its own culture is better able to understand how to process changes in that culture, especially those driven by changes in the local context. Time and Structure – Hispanics are generally more open in their perception of time than Anglos. Things can start later, end later and proceed in unexpected ways without causing tension. Hispanics tend to be are gifted at adapting. Anglos tend to be

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gifted in organization and efficiency. Both modes are helpful, but they run counter to one another. At all stages of Hispanic ministry, cognition of these differences is important. Be sure you know which clock you are using. Family – Ironically, since the majority of Hispanics in the USA today are in some way separated from at least their extended families and their home culture and country, family and extended family is of greater importance to Hispanics than to most Anglos. Thus the church often becomes a surrogate family and great sacrifices will be made for the family by the family. Mexican tradition calls for Sundays to be family time. Thus in the USA, with churches serving as surrogate families, church programming can revolve around this traditional Sunday practice.24 Poverty & Education – Poverty and limited educational opportunities are more normative in Hispanic countries than in the US. Persons who have immigrated without documentation to the USA tend to be among the poorer and less educated in their own countries. Thus, while many Hispanics in the USA are very bright, capable and spiritual individuals, their education and general economic class may well create barriers. These barriers are not only between themselves and non-Hispanic congregants but are equally in force between Hispanics from different nations and social classes. Work, Risk and the Immigrant Lifestyle – The very vast majority of Hispanics who are recent immigrants to the USA are here to work. If persons are not able to work for whatever reason, their reason for being in a community has vanished. If those persons are here without legal documentation, and are thus in constant jeopardy of not just losing their jobs but of deportation, this will affect how they interact with their church in

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various, somewhat unpredictable ways. Immigration concerns are the water than many Hispanics swim in.

Language Training – There are a number of guides, electronic and printed, to Spanish. However, people teach language better than books or computers. A nonHispanic church that is interested in pursuing Hispanic ministry should, perhaps through their denomination, as did Chapel Hill, find a person who can help them learn Survival Spanish. Spanish speakers often find the church a powerful ally in learning English, both through formal ESL classes and by just talking with English speakers. ESL and SSL classes can both greatly strengthen Hispanic Ministry. Translation25 Issues – At Chapel Hill it was often the case that there were many more translators available than we could ever need. Many of the persons in the church without any formal training had been in the United States long enough to translate adequately for our purposes. While translating can be a critical and difficult need to fill at the very outset of a ministry, a time when, thankfully, denominational help is easier to get, once a church gets involved with Hispanic ministry, translators seem to come out of the woodwork. Churches need to be careful, however, to develop a roster of talented translators (interpreters) for worship services. Translating a worship service takes skill and is tiring and difficult. Without a translator, everything grinds to a halt or loses meaning to many in the congregation. This type of translating is a skill well beyond simply being able to

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speak both languages. If a church is planning to do multi-lingual worship, having good translators (more than one) is almost as important as having an adequate preacher.

5. Health Care / Food and Shelter / Social Networking Helping Hispanics access health care, basic necessities such as food and shelter and become involved in the larger community are three areas of tremendous opportunity for those churches interested in the development of outreach ministries to Hispanics or other immigrants. Chapel Hill did all of these things in several different ways. Any church considering developing Hispanic ministry should be ready to work in these three areas. Many churches offer some level of care in all of these areas already. Many such services can be tweaked or ramped up relatively easily to deal with Hispanic needs. Often it is as easy as a few hours of language training for the volunteers already in place. Chapel Hill worked with the county health care system to provide dental and medical clinics on an annual basis. As pastor, I made several trips to the hospital with Hispanics not to be a medical translator but to translate the culture so that my Hispanic parishioners could navigate the halls of a hospital – not easy even for the informed and native-born. These efforts proved to be of tremendous help, though they were quite a bit more involved than a typical hospital call, and were tremendously appreciated. Chapel Hill worked with local relief organizations, worked as a church and members of the church worked personally to help Hispanics find clothes, food and shelter in emergency situations. This is a great and pressing need because Hispanics are often at a great distance from the families to whom they might otherwise turn for help.

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Finally, Chapel Hill (both the English and Hispanic congregations) helped Hispanic member after member with things like accessing and working with the local school systems over various issues. Several members and constituents went with Hispanics to court to deal with traffic violations, a practice that was greatly appreciated. Additionally, Chapel Hill became to some extent a place where people could network to find work. Undocumented immigrants are half in and half out of the system and cannot fully trust it. Being there with such a person in a time of crisis can be a tremendous act of love and pastoral care. 6. Eating Together It is very difficult to say why the Hispanic ministry at Chapel Hill stayed together spiritually even as it grew apart as the Hispanic worship service evolved into a more indigenous and heartfelt worship experience for its congregants. My hunch is that it had a great deal to do with the years of fellowship meals shared between Anglo and Hispanic on Sunday nights. Table fellowship is perhaps a bit more natural for Hispanics than Anglos as a regular event in the church, but we can all sit down together, eat one another’s food, struggle to learn either English or Spanish, and share in the love of Jesus as we “pase la sal, por favor. ” (please pass the salt.) Worship is fine. Singing is nice. Preaching is great. Serving one another through the provision of health care, food and clothing, and connecting folks with the larger community is important. But at the table we can clearly and easily see (and smell and taste) that we are really not that different. At the table we build our families as we share our lives together. At the table, we eat together and become friends. If a romantic couple wants to spend time together, they may go to a movie, go hiking, travel together, play

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sports together, go to a concert or any other number of things, but you can be certain that they will eat together. Eating together matters at a deep and serious level. It is not a coincidence that Passover, a festival of cultural and spiritual remembrance, is centered around a meal. It is not a coincidence that Jesus’ first miracle was the provision of food for a feast. It is not a coincidence that Jesus celebrated the Passover with his disciples, welcoming even his betrayer to his final meal. What we do at table makes us who we are.

7. Building / Grounds Usage At Chapel Hill there was significant conversation around the relative amount of use of the building by the Hispanic congregation and the English congregation. Some of the tension around this was solved when the Hispanic church began to cover a majority of the utility expenses, but for Chapel Hill as for many other churches involved in these same type issues, money is not the only factor. It may not even be a significant factor. What was difficult at Chapel Hill from time to time was a sense among some of the English folks that they had lost “ownership” of the building because the usage of the building was so dominated by the Hispanic congregation. In January of 1999, the building was officially in use a total of about thirty-five minutes a week. In January of 2007, the Anglo congregation was using the building about three hours a week, an encouraging and laudable expansion. But the building was officially in use a total of almost eleven hours a week: eight hours by the Hispanics.26 That the Anglos were using the building almost six times as much as before was almost lost even on them and was certainly lost by the larger community, some of whom began to see Chapel Hill as a Hispanic church, even though it had the most active Anglo congregation in the area.

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These same tensions are played out time and time again in churches with two services, even when those services are of the same ethnic and cultural group. Such separateness leads to comparisons that may lead to both equitable solutions and an improved life of the whole community or may lead to destructive patterns and occurrences that diminish the life of the community. This is an important area for wise leadership. I believe that both Hispanic and non-Hispanic leadership must work closely to coordinate, clean, and keep up facilities. Even the most terrible mess will not ruin well-developed relations, but a pattern of messiness, whether by Hispanic or non-Hispanics, can be quite problematic. A formal agreement about use of space was never made at Chapel Hill, but the deep connections between the two congregations and the generally informal nature of things at the church made it unneeded. Many other churches have found such documents very helpful.

8. Diverse Leadership The official and unofficial leadership of Chapel Hill is very diverse and it needs to be. Churches who hope to be involved in Hispanic ministry need to look for ways to grow Hispanic leadership. Chapel Hill was exceptionally fortunate that competent, motivated leadership was in the neighborhood and walked through the door. Twice. The first was Pablo Amor, a layperson, and then Francisco Bienvenido, a pastor. I believe that as churches begin work with Hispanics, God will send talent to their doors. However churches have to be willing to utilize that talent. It is also worth remembering that leadership that walks through the door can just as easily walk back out; finding Hispanic leadership that is deeply committed to any US denomination is nearly impossible. One of

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the responsibilities of non-Hispanic leadership is to develop the Hispanic leadership, including loyalty to the local and gathered church. Diverse leadership is important for several reasons. Attraction is a primary reason. While both Amor and Pastor Bienvenido were newcomers to the church, building the Hispanic congregation without their leadership would never have happened. Cultural barriers between people groups are too great for non-Hispanics to build a Hispanic congregation. I believe that God has called non-Hispanics to help launch Hispanic ministries, but if these ministries are to be sustained, they will need Hispanic leadership. Hispanic leadership must also help in launching ministries and be central in the continuing leadership of the ministries. Such leadership certainly can come from laypersons. A related reason for diverse leadership is representational: people want to know that those they relate to are “at the table.” If not, people feel disenfranchised. The feeling of being “enfranchised” in the USA is a powerful thing for those who are not citizens. A final reason for diverse leadership is worship leadership. Worship is culturally imbedded. As a white guy from the suburbs, I had to cross some cultural and language barriers to be able to even worship in a Hispanic setting. Thus there was no question in my mind that I could not effectively lead such worship. Worship leadership must flow from the heart. Hispanic worship needs Hispanic leadership.27 At the same time, support from the English pastor is critical. Lack of such support, especially but not exclusively in the early stages of a ministry, will virtually assure that the ministry will falter. And this leadership has to be more than an occasional pat on the back for the team members. The pastor must be part of the team. Hispanic

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congregants need to know the face and name of the English pastor even if he or she speaks no Spanish at all. Otherwise, the English pastor is not their pastor and Hispanics are not meeting in a church at all, only a church building. 9. The Hispanic Pastorate As mentioned earlier in this story, the Hispanic pastorate has more formal and informal authority than the same role in (at least) Anglo churches. Perhaps there is a closer correlation between the authority vested in Hispanic pastors and that vested in African-American pastors by congregants. Additionally, as also mentioned, the Hispanic pastor’s wife (La Pastora) also has a quite significant role in the life of the church. The importance of this role is also reflected in a greater openness to female pastors in Hispanic than non-Hispanic congregations. Additionally, perhaps somewhat antithetically, Hispanic congregants seem to sense a greater openness to call and call upon the pastor heedless of the hour of the day or night. Whenever there is a need, real or otherwise, for a pastor, Hispanic congregants feel free to call. If a congregant has a question about a Bible verse at midnight on Saturday night, they call. If a congregant who has to be at work at 5:00am and their car will not start, they call the pastor. And the pastor’s children will wake him or her up. The church is a family. The pastor is the parent. Churches, Chapel Hill included, have faced difficult questions about how to support a pastor whom they cannot legally employ. The reality is that while many employers pay undocumented Hispanics, the church is obligated to obey the law. Churches that have failed to do this, even unwittingly, have faced devastating results. And there is no need to do so. The best option is to hire someone who has both the talents

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needed and legal authorization to work in this country. Large churches and groups of churches can pursue this option. The process is more involved and expensive than a typical hire ($13,000 in visas alone if you bring a pastor and spouse from Mexico) but it can be done. Smaller churches can find creative and legal ways to support those persons who emerge from their congregations with the skills to be in ministry without violating the law. 10. Indigenous or Inclusive Worship Services? Is indigenous or inclusive worship the best way to go? Both have their plusses and minuses. Our experience at Chapel Hill began with inclusive worship. When Pablo Amor first arrived, the otherwise all-Anglo church learned to sing “Jesus Loves Me” and a few other simple songs in Spanish so that he would feel at home. And Amor did at least feel welcomed and a part of the life of the Anglo church. When a Spanish language service was launched a few months later, it was even more inclusive: with Hispanic (Mexican) music and preaching, translated into English. Both morning (English) and afternoon (Spanish) services grew both spiritually and numerically, with both Anglos and Hispanics at both services. After a few years, without really intending to do so, the afternoon service morphed fully into “the Spanish service” initially by moving its time forward to 1:00pm, thus making it difficult for those Anglos who had not too long ago been at the English service to return for the second service. Thus total Anglo participation in that service fell and the service moved from being more inclusive to being more indigenous. The Hispanic presence at the “English” service also fell. The liturgies at both services began to be closer to the traditional liturgical styles of the two groups and the congregations,

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with several bumps along the way, continued to grow. Both inclusive and indigenous worship styles can work. Inclusive worship builds tight bonds between ethnically different congregants. But it can hamper the ability of the worshippers to use their “heart language.” Good worship leaders can work around this, but it is difficult and made even more difficult when done on top of translation issues. A Final Note On The Uninvolved Every church has people who are not on board with every project. Chapel Hill is no exception and there were those persons on the Anglo side of the church who were not apparently interested in the Hispanic ministry from the outset, those who lost interest along the way and a few who thought it was a bad idea from the start. While these folks seemed to realize that I enjoyed the work with the Hispanics before I realized they did not, they were not only generally kind to me, but also continued to support and strengthen the life of the whole church without exception.28 At first I found this not terribly remarkable, but as I began to learn more and more about multi-ethnic ministry, especially Hispanic ministry in the Mid South, I came to see that one of the real strengths of the Chapel Hill church was that those persons who were potentially antagonistic towards the ministry had not only been peaceable but had been more or less helpful. And so I worked a little harder to make sure that they remained within the heart of the church by soliciting their thoughts and ideas and making sure they were included in decisions as was appropriate. It was such a member of the church who brought forward the issue of the sharing of utility costs in 2005 (see page 177). As it turned out, his vision and understanding of the situation was better than both mine and

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those laypersons advocating for the Hispanic ministry. His idea was simply that the whole church should share in the upkeep of the building. The advocating Anglos greeted it coolly for the burden it would place on the Hispanics. But the Hispanics themselves were grateful for the opportunity to help support the church. All voices need to be heard: those who cheer, those who jeer, and those who would be otherwise silent.

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NOTES

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The United Methodist Publishing House, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church (Nashville, TN: Abingdon Press, 2004), 173. John Wesley, Thoughts on Methodism. In The Works of John Wesley on Compact Disc [CD ROM] (Providence House Publishers: Franklin TN, 1995)
3 2

1

Manuel Ortiz, The Hispanic Challenge (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1993), 52-56.

World Council of Churches, Baptism, Eucharist and Ministry (Geneva: World Council of Churches, 1982), 5.
5

4

World Council of Churches, 4.

The Western Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church, "Sacramental Faithfulness," The Daily Christian Advocate, 2000, sec. 1, p. 220.
7

6

World Council of Churches, 5.

The United Methodist Churches’ requirement that 115 congregants sign an official document for a church to be chartered has stymied the work of Christ in Tennessee because of deportation related worries.
9

8

Clara E. Rodriguez, Changing Races (New York: New York University Press, 2000), 18-20. A short discussion of “race” is found on page V in the introduction to this text.

10

Du Bois W.E.B, The Souls of Black Folks (Chicago: A.C. McClurg & Co, 1903). accessed online at www.bartleby.com/114, Jan 23, 2008.
12

11

George Yancey, Beyond Black and White (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1996), 14. Roberto Suro, Strangers Among Us (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1998). Stephen Talty, Mulatto America (San Francisco: Harper Collins, 2003), 220. George Yancey, 52. Betsy Guzman, 2-3. Victor Davis Hanson, Mexifornia (San Francisco: Encounter, 2003), 20. Victor Davis Hanson, 23-27. Victor Davis Hanson, 101-107. Roberto Suro, Living In Spanglish (New York: St. Martins, 2002), 6, 8.

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

Ortigoza, David. Email interview by author, January 6-9, 2008. (Rev. Ortigoza is the Latino/Hispanic Ministries Director for the South East Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church.)
22

21

Michael O. Emerson, People of the Dream (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2006),

58. Generally, however, small groups need to form before a worshipping community is created. This same pattern holds true of any new church start.
24 23

Charles Dahm, Parish Ministry in a Hispanic Community (New York: Paulist Press, 2004),

164. Technically, “interpretation” is of the spoken word and “translation” of the written. I have chosen to use the word “translate” in both situations for simplicity’s sake.
26 25

Some of this time was, of course, dual use. George Yancey, One Body, One Spirit (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 2003), 85.

27

28

One Anglo, a newer resident in Riddleton, did leave the church while I was pastor, and I thought his departure was at least partially caused by the Hispanic ministry. He insisted that it was not; his religious background had been more charismatic than the English congregation and he needed a more spirit-based worship service.

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