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Hispanic and Anglo Friends Fellowship in Ministry

August 2006

National Voice

Hispanic and Anglo Friends Across the Country Move out of Comfort Zones to Experience Fellowship in Ministry

Hispanic ministry is on the rise among Friends. During last November's Evangelical Friends International-North America (EFI-NA) annual meetings, Hispanic Friends pastors from several Yearly Meetings joined the Coordinating Council for an evening of praise, worship, and sharing about the movement of God in their congregations. Four out of the six EFI-NA regions count significant numbers of Hispanic congregations as part of their Yearly Meetings.

Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region (EFC-ER) Held a Conference for Hispanic Friends Leaders

During the past decade, twelve Hispanic churches have become a part of EFC-ER. Spoken language can be a barrier but the common language of Christ brings believers together. For several years, annual sessions have taken on a distinctively international flavor as translators work to make sessions available to Spanish-speaking Friends.

Sonia and Jose Urrutia pastor the Kingston (NY) Hispanic Evangelical Friends Church, which is part of Evangelical Friends Church-Eastern Region. Jose is involved in music ministry and is featured on a CD of Spanish worship music.
Traditionally, Hispanic Friends gathered for fellowship and leadership training prior to the Saturday evening Missions Banquet. In 2005, over 150 arrived, expressing a desire for deeper fellowship and sharing of ministry despite the language barrier. The leadership team at EFC-ER responded by initiating an EFC-ER Hispanic Leadership Conference, which was held the following September.

Eleven of the twelve Hispanic churches sent leaders to the conference. Some pastors drove through the night for this time of fellowship. The sessions were led by a team from EFC-ER with David Byrne, Director of Coalition for Hispanic Ministries, translating. Highlights included the sharing of goals, encouragement, and ideas about how Hispanic churches are linked to Friends through fellowship, doctrine, and participation in ministry.

"The conference went very well," explained Area Superintendent, John Ryser. "We wanted to set aside some time to share with these pastors a little more of our vision and the leadership principles for this Region."

Times for fellowship and fun were also tossed into the mix. The soccer goal competition was won by one of the few women attending. Friday night's field trip was a high school football game-a first for some of our Hispanic leaders.

Friends in Eastern Region anticipate an exciting gathering of Friends from both cultures during 2006 Yearly Meeting Sessions and look forward to God's continued direction and ministry among Friends.

Cross-cultural Ministries are Next Door

Dr. David Byrne began ministry through Coalition for Hispanic Ministry (CHM) in 1994. A gifted translator, David assists in Friends Hispanic ministry in a variety of ways. He is instrumental in the planning of annual conferences for Hispanic Friends. Last year's conference was held in Baltimore, Maryland. This year, the Conference is set for Philadelphia. Local groups take care of all logistics. For more information, check out the CHM website,
Coalition for Hispanic Ministries (CHM), coordinated by David Byrne, is part of God's strategy today to help Friends and others to connect with the largely untapped resource of and ministry with Hispanics in North America.

According to David Byrne, Hispanics in the US have become the largest minority group in the United States with a growth rate of 9% in the last two years. Today, 40 million Latinos live in the US. Often they send money abroad to support families. Many are spiritually lost and alone.

"This is a people group that must not be ignored by the American church," explained Byrne. "CHM is actively involved in calling the church to this mission field and helping to develop and promote those ministries that advance the Hispanic church."

EFI-NA is actively pursuing ways to connect with this growing segment of our culture through the planting of new iglesias de los Amigos (Friends churches) across the US. Please pray for Friends leaders as they seek God's direction regarding this important Friends connection.

-Donna Neff. She is wife to Bob and daughter to Don and Carolyn Worden. She serves EFC-ER as Director of Publications. The main body of this article first appeared in the Fall 2005 EFC-ER regional newsletter, The Facing Bench.