The United Methodist National Plan for Hispanic Ministry (NPHM) is requesting a renewal of and increased funding for the ministry in the next four years in lieu of the 2-3-fold increase in the Hispanic population in parts of the nation’s regions. The request will be made before the denomination’s top legislative body at their general conference, April 27-May 7 in Pittsburgh.
"Delegates need to know that of the money we're requesting, $1.5 million is in grants to annual conferences," said Rev. Eli Rivera.
According to Eli, matching grants to conferences are “a key motivational tool” for the plan, which will mark 12 years of operation by the end of 2004.
To date, the NPHM has raised grants for thirty conferences. Average funding has been $50,000 for multi-project grants and $20,000 for single-project grants. In addition, the NPHM has established 75 new churches and 75 revitalized churches in 35 conferences, set up 600 new faith communities in 52 conferences and trained 900 lay missioners, 130 pastor/mentors and 125 facilitators, since its inception in the beginning of 1993.
Should delegates to the 2004 General Conference renew the work of the NPHM, the plan will set several goals for the 2005-2008 quadrennium, including a the addition of the word “Latino” in the plan’s name.
"In many Hispanic communities, we have Brazilians worshipping in Spanish," Rivera said, pointing out the need for a Portuguese-language ministry. And in cities like Dallas and Los Angeles, where Brazilian populations are growing, "no ministry has been developed."
According to Rivera, the addition of the word “Latino” will allow the plan to minister to the growing Latino population that is not necessarily Hispanic.
"I think this a great deal for the United Methodist Church," said David Ortigoza, coordinator of the United Methodist Southeastern Jurisdictional Administrative Council for Hispanic/Latino Ministry. "It's a very good opportunity to improve the mission with the Hispanic/Latino community."
Other goals for 2005-08 include a provision of resource development to 100 new congregations and the revitalization of the 100 existing congregations that minister to the Hispanic and Latino population. The group also will train 800 lay missioners and 1,500 lay people to minister, and commission up to 3 dozen missionaries. In addition, the group plans to provide more ministry resources for 500 non-Hispanic/Latino congregations.