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Hispanic Plan has resulted in 223 new congregations

9/30/1998 News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York

by United Methodist News Service

A United Methodist National Plan for Hispanic Ministry, adopted in 1992, has resulted in 223 new congregations in 48 annual (regional) conferences.

That was the report received by the Committee on Hispanic Ministries during its Sept. 17-19 meeting in Portland, Ore.

Of the new Hispanic congregations, 51 have been organized or chartered as new churches, 148 are considered "missions" not yet large or strong enough to be chartered, and 24 are considered to be "ministries" such as fellowships or faith communities.

The committee approved mission initiative grants of $50,000 each to the Central Texas, Desert Southwest and South Carolina annual conferences. Central Texas and Desert Southwest currently have a Hispanic Ministries missionary assigned to their areas and South Carolina is seeking one. So far, the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries has placed 11 such missionaries, with four more to be named soon, according to the Rev. Jose Palos, the board's coordinator for the Hispanic Plan.

In total, the committee has approved $350,000 for seven annual conference grants. Thirty-four other conferences are working toward grant application, Palos said.

In other business, the committee:

· Tentatively set a national convocation for non-Hispanic leaders in Hispanic ministries for April 9-11 in Houston.
· Welcomed participation from Methodist Bishop Isaias Gutierrez of Chile, who is president of the Methodist Churches of Latin America and the Caribbean (CIEMAL).
· Learned from Melinda Fenholt of Columbus, Ohio, that the "Ready to Read" literacy program soon will be available in Spanish.
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