In a Journey of Accompaniment & Service to Emerging Leaders

Our Narrative as the “In-between” Generation

Written byNPHLM Archive

As we look ahead towards the future of our Latino/Hispanic UMC congregations, we must carry in our hearts the struggles and dreams of not only our parents whom we dearly love but also of our migrant forebears. Many of us were brought to the U.S as children by immigrant parents. Hence, our sense of belonging has dwelt between the Old World and the New World. Personally, I feel as American as the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Anglo-Saxon who was born and raised in a southern city like Albany, Georgia, and as Salvadorian as my uncle who has lived all his life in Usulutan, El Salvador. These claims, though, could easily be proven wrong if you were to see my own perplexity when Salvadorians use certain regional colloquialism in conversations, or if you heard my constant questioning regarding American Football to my native co-workers. Nonetheless, it’s this shared experience of living “in between” which has become the narrative for many first and second generation immigrants.

The Third Consultation on Latino/Hispanic Ministry is a great step to promote awareness of other developing ministries that attempt to embrace our rising numbers English-speaking Latinos. The consultation in itself will be a great opportunity to see our vast and diverse ways of being Latinos, either as foreign born or U.S born. As we engage in a risky dialogue about our connections with ourselves, the church, our culture and our world, I hope that we can also reach practical ways in which we can use our “in-between” narrative to become bridge-builders and conscious mediators. Becoming conscious of our limitations, as we reap the whirlwind of our own multicultural and multiethnic backgrounds and histories will not be an easy task. Yet, we cannot make the mistake of thinking that we will solve all the issues pertaining to our Latino communities in so little time. There just isn’t one simple solution to our unsuccessful system of doing ministry with our fast changing Latino population. Instead, the consultation, 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.

At a larger level, I hope our consultation can focus on more attainable goals that surpass sudden epiphanies or personal realizations. These goals must be based on a gradual development of not only UMC institutions but also other partnerships that serve our Latino/Hispanic communities. It is my wish that at the end of our consultation we can look at each other and see ourselves in those who resemble us the least. I hope to learn from people who are pioneering different ministry models, so that my way of thinking and doing can be also challenged. Finally, I pray that through all this innovative process of “caminando juntos,” we can realize that, yes, we can work together to reach perfect union, because our God is with us each step of the way inviting us – for His yoke is easy and His burden is light.


6 Replies
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Luis Velasquez

2015-03-31 20:51:36
Hey Everybody, Thanks for your comments, it was a great blessing to be with each one of you at the Consultation. Craig Nelson, we actually met and talked at the Consulta. To be honest with you, I just read your reply to my blog. I will be alerted whenever someone posts new comments through email just so I can reply faster. Bendiciones!
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Craig Nelson

2015-03-12 02:08:44
Luis, You need to read about Third Culture Kids. Just Google it. There is a whole field of inquiry out there about what it's like to grow up feeling not fully part of the culture of your parents, but also not fully part of the culture where you grow up. These type people form a third culture. Coupling this concept with who we are as Christians in a secular world makes for fascinating reading for somebody like you, and for somebody like me who grew up with Anglo parents but in Latin America. Hope to meet you at the Consultation
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Brent Blackwell

2015-02-20 16:51:58
Luis, I thoroughly enjoy your analogy of people living “in-between” worlds, cultures, and generations. It is right to point that this “in-betweeness” is not necessarily a unique experience, yet its value should in no way be diminished. Rather, it should become the identity and battle cry of missions today as an effort to reach all peoples. I become truly excited to think about the possibilities associated with this “in-between” generation, for with this experience comes the opportunity of great witness. Highlighting the strengths of dual identities, this generation is able to build a rapport beyond previous boundaries. The foundation of the bridge is already established, but it is up to us to lay the bricks with which we will walk across. Truly, I believe that as a model of understanding we should look to the Apostle Paul who represents the epitome of “in-between” service in 1 Corinthians 9:20-22: “To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” Relationships are built on commonality and Paul recognizes this truth. It is only through an attitude of service and humility that we can place ourselves in the positions of others that we can truly begin to build meaningful relationships. I believe that this “in-between” generation already has a great start! Only through embracing challenges and recognizing strengths can we begin to move forward, while remembering the challenges, experiences, and traditions that have already placed us where we are today.
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Ivonne Ramírez

2015-02-20 05:13:42
Thank you Luis for putting a name or label to our current issue. This 'in-between' term has been experienced by many of us but we just had not think of it this way. I personally have felt the awkwardness of being in a different country with a different language and a different culture. It is hard enough to adapt to our own culture and our own society now being introduced to a new one can be a conflict. Yes it is hard to be in between two different worlds but we need to get over it and do something about it. We can't always feel this way, we have to learn how to be able to be part of both countries without feeling vulnerable. We can join both ways of living through our friends, our school, and our jobs. There are many of us in this same in-between generation, what we can do is learn from each other in order to make an impact in our community. I feel like we learn better when we are given an example of what we are going through. Once we see we are not the only ones feeling this way we feel more comfortable with the situation and then we take action. It's time to do something for ourselves and get out of the shadows of this in-between stage. I hope I get to learn more about what this generation and perhaps I can get ideas of how to better myself and my situation in this country.
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Luis Luna

2015-02-19 13:18:34
When thinking about the” in-between” generation it is crucial to keep in mind not only of those of us who were brought as children or borne in the United States, emphasis must also be placed on the older generation, our parents’ generation; the generation that envision the American dream, or any kind of dream that forced their migration. This generation is what I consider the real” in-between” generation. While those of us who had the opportunity of a more formal interaction with the culture, such as attending school, had an easier adaptation process, our parents’ generation seemed to be stuck in between countries, in between generation. For many of them, the language, work, or even buying groceries become a daily struggle while they desperately hold onto their mores and memories of their land. As soon as they migrate, they become deserters of their parents land and become foreigners in the land of their children. It sounds coherent that in a life troubled by the cultural shock, religion creates a clear exit door for it. I agree with Mr. Velasquez’ opinion, I find it imperative that we strive for attainable goals, one of the goals being using our insight of what Mr. Velasquez calls us the ”in-between” generation to create leadership that will ultimately help those to whom the adaptation process has not being as tranquil. In easier words, taking advantage of this conference in order to create Hispanic/Latino ministry leadership that will help generate a stronger bond between the migrant generations and the ministry.
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Aquiles Martinez

2015-02-18 21:20:45
Luis, thank you so much for your brief reflection about the "in between" experience that partly describes you and the experiences of so many other Hispanics/Latinos/as. In thinking about this topic, it is also crucial we take into account other forms of "in betweeness" that might describe the experiences of other Hispanics and non-Hispanics, which might serve as potential points of encounter (and not just as "frameworks of reference'"). If we are ever going to create "bridges" among ourselves and other groups, it is important we share those identity-related experiences that somehow put us "in thresholds " and to which we can relate "by analogy." Let us not forget that the sense of belonging, not belonging and anything "in between" must not be restricted to a generation nor to an ethnic group in particular. By doing that, we will be validating each other as a fundamental step towards talking about "us". Seeing ourselves reflected in the life journeys of others is key. What do others think??? :-)