Reflections on Hispanic Ministries Within The United Methodist Church
by Nelida Mora-Morales
As we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, I also celebrate my Christian and Methodist heritage. Since my birth in a Methodist home in Cuba, my whole life has been centered in Christ and His Church. In writings and speaking opportunities, I often mention the influence of the General Board of Global Ministries (formerly the Board of Mission) of The Methodist Church in my life; the clinic built in my home town and the loving ministry of a United Methodist missionary were instruments used by the Lord to save my life.
My commitment to the Methodist Church and to the Women’s Society of Christian Service (WSCS) began with my childhood. I attended the "ladies’" meetings with my mother, while my father was very active in the Church as the chair of the Administrative Board. Even as a very young woman, I assumed many responsibilities within the Church; I served as president of the Youth League, as a Sunday school teacher, and as a choir member, and in several other capacities.
In 1968, for political and religious reasons, my husband, my two young sons, and I arrived in the United States, which we considered the Promise Land. Those first years in Detroit, MI, were very hard. The cold weather, the learning of a new language, and working the night shift in a factory were all very difficult experiences for us.
Thank God for the Church and the supportive community we discovered. There was not a Hispanic Methodist congregation in Detroit, so we attended other denominations’ Spanish speaking worship services. But soon after, with the help of the United Methodist Hispanic Ministry in the Chicago area, we felt the calling to begin a UM Spanish-speaking Ministry in Detroit. My husband and I attended one of the first summer courses for Spanish local pastors at Garrett Seminary in Illinois. We began holding worship services in our home until a United Methodist Church in East Detroit opened its doors for the first Hispanic Mission in the area.
In 1976 we moved to Miami and, again, the work of the Church was one of our priorities; we became members of one of the Spanish speaking congregations in Miami. Being able to worship in our native language is very important to us. I am grateful for United Methodist support of the National Plan for the Hispanic/Latino Ministry and happy seeing the results of the program's work. We cannot deny that prejudice, racism, and discrimination are still alive; but I believe that things are getting better.
I feel like a chosen one. I have been given the opportunity to serve the Church and her organizations in many capacities. It has been, and remains, a rewarding experience to represent the Hispanic/Latino people within the Church and in society. I consider myself especially fortunate to represent the GBGM on the National Plan for the Hispanic/Latino Ministry Committee.
I am proud of my Hispanic Heritage but, most of all, I am VERY proud of my Christian and Methodist Heritage.
Nelida Mora-Morales is a Director of the General Board of Global Ministries.
Date posted: Sep 23, 2005