If you think most Latinos in the United States generally speak only Spanish and lead lives isolated from the nation’s other ethnic groups, think again. English has replaced Spanish as the first language used in Hispanic/Latino families, and a higher proportion of U.S. Hispanics/Latinos are part of interracial or interethnic couples than any other U.S. ethnic group.
Those were just two data points shared at The United Methodist Church’s third National Consultation for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, which drew 250 United Methodist leaders March 12-14 to Duke Divinity School in Durham, North Carolina. The consultation took as its theme the Spanglish phrase “El Espíritu de Dios (the Spirit of God) is Upon Us.”
The gathering included United Methodists of various ages and races from all five U.S. jurisdictions. It focused on ministries for people not just from Spanish-speaking countries but also those from Portuguese-speaking countries, such as Brazil.
The diverse, dynamic and changing realities of Hispanic/Latino people were the main topics of the discussion groups and plenary sessions. Among them, the consultation focused on nurturing a new generation of church leaders to address emerging realities. About a fifth of those in attendance were young adults.
“The time that we live in is an opportunity for young people, who have an identity forged between various cultures, to build bridges of inclusion and approach,” preached Luis Velazquez, a certified candidate for ordained United Methodist ministry.
The consultation, he said, “as a divine dialogue, has great potential to produce many strategies in which we can all reaffirm our commitment to support and accompany the changes in the coming years, as America also grows into its new self.”