In a Journey of Accompaniment & Service to Emerging Leaders

Commentary: Acompañamiento

It seems that we are living in an age of great information sharing. Our ability to connect to persons across continents and oceans looks as easy as one click of a button. Yet, we live in an age of great division, misinformation, and confusion.

For instance, the recent stunts in Florida and Texas remind us that misinformation and confusion can lead the lives and dignity of Hispanic/Latino people to be used as political ploys, bargaining chips, and discarded tools.

Hispanic/Latinx congregations are an important part of The United Methodist Church. It’s essential that people within these cultures be heard and that the context and richness of their heritage continues to be included within the fabric of the church.

The original legislation of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry approved by 1992 General Conference affirmed a vision of a dynamic and growing United Methodist Church, joyously sharing, and living the Good News of Jesus Christ in a multiplicity of places, urban and rural, in congregations large and small, and in a variety of cultural settings. In this church, groups which traditionally have been disenfranchised will be full partners in Christ’s ministry, and the gifts of every Hispanic male and female, young and old, factory worker and professional, immigrant and native will be put to use for the upbuilding of the entire body (1Thes 5:11). A church in which such diversity, rather than dividing, unites, joining all in a common task, in a variety of circumstances, toward a common goal (1Cor 12:12-13).

It is crucial that we continue developing that understanding of what it means to move forward together in unity and, most importantly, commit ourselves as a connectional body to protect and care for the most vulnerable ministries who will be directly impacted from systemic and institutional racism by disaffiliating congregations.

Myself, and others in the Hispanic/Latino ministry community, have seen that there is a great urgency to help our members understand these matters. Unfortunately, we have seen manipulation at the different levels of the church that is robbing people of having their voices heard. I am increasingly receiving emails and calls about this matter. A number of churches are sharing miscommunication with their Latino ministries and congregants, hindering participation in important local church votes and leaving the community fearful with many questions. Congregations, members and leaders alike need to be present and accounted for during these decision-making moments even if they’ve been led to believe that others will serve as their proxy.

Many Hispanic/Latinx ministries have been birthed out of or are tied to individual local churches. It’s important that everyone in these ministries, and those in the church in general are involved in their local churches. These ministries need to have a voice and be in attendance at meetings and votes related to moving forward within The United Methodist Church.  

For those in leadership roles at all levels within the connection, it is our ethical responsibility to help ensure that all members have a sense of self-determination and the ability to make choices with sound and essential information. It’s crucial that we seek to clarify any confusion or misinformation regarding our journey together in this new future as the people called United Methodists.

As local churches who may be tied to Hispanic/Latino ministries, it is important that you:

• provide a space for sound information to help Hispanic/Latino ministries discern best steps for moving forward with The United Methodist Church 

• answer questions and emphasize that people have agency

• discuss how our connectional system protects and cares for the most vulnerable ministries when it comes to disaffiliating congregations, especially in light of the impacts of systemic racism

• ensure a sense of self-determination and ability to make choices after analyzing information

• provide a space for sound information to help Hispanic/Latino ministries discern best steps for moving forward with The United Methodist Church 

At the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, we use the term “acompañamiento,” as our missional purpose. As a musician, this term speaks volumes to me. “Acompañamiento” means “to accompany” and often refers to the accompaniment utilized to support and complete the melody in a song. Or in our case – the body of Christ. Our role is to accompany conferences, pastors, and laity to vision and strategize Hispanic/Latinx ministry in their specific contexts. To help our church fulfill the dream of becoming a beloved community where we all thrive.

In an effort to provide acompañamiento, the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry of the United Methodist Church is hosting “We Are United Methodists: Tools for Discerning Our Future,” an informational webinar featuring a panel discussion followed by a live Q&A session for Hispanic/Latino congregations, members and leaders on October 17, 2022 at 8 pm EST. Questions can be submitted in advance via an online form. The event is done is presented in partnership with the General Commission on Religion and Race and United Methodist Communications

This event will be hosted on Recursos Metodistas Unidos, ResourceUMC.org’s Spanish language platform. The event will be shared simultaneously through the National PlanRecursos Metodistas Unidos and the La Iglesia Metodista Unida/ Servicio Metodista Unido de Noticias Facebook pages.


2 Replies
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Rev. Jaime Joel Farias

2022-10-13 18:19:40
Sounds very interesting. I'd like to know more about Hispanic ministries vision and development.
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2022-10-13 17:07:42
Yes. In 2019 my annual conference clergy delegate election for general/jurisdictional conference elected 0 Hispanic/Latino clergy, although the most successful overall new church plants and church growth was Hispanic. The fact that our pastors held a traditional view of marriage led to their exclusion. That MUST change. Electing delegations where all are native English speakers is not right.