Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Monday, March 27, 2006
Minerva Carcano (cotton fields)
Church must continue reaching to Hispanics, commission told
Sept. 30, 2003
By Linda Bloom*
HOUSTON (UMNS) - When the Rev. Minerva Carcano was growing up in Edinburgh, Texas, there were two Methodist churches in town - one for Hispanics and one for "Anglos."
She was thrilled when the two churches joined forces for vacation Bible school - held during the first summer at her own church and the second summer at the other church, which she had never been inside before.
Her joy turned to dismay when it became clear that the school's final program would be confined to the fellowship hall because the Anglo congregation "did not want their sanctuary soiled by brown children."
Carcano, now almost 50 years old and serving as a United Methodist clergywoman in the Oregon-Idaho Conference, recalled that experience of her youth during the Sept. 25-28 meeting of the Commission on the Status and Role of Women.
Her presentations and Bible studies were part of an emphasis during the meeting on Hispanic United Methodists, particularly women. The denomination has encouraged the growth of Hispanic members and congregations during the past decade through its National Plan for Hispanic Ministry.
The Rev. Jeannie Trevino-Teddlie, a commission member from Dallas, pointed out that Latinos and Latinas would soon be the majority population in Texas, and she added that if the church is serious about its call to make disciples for Christ, it must be serious about mission with this population.
Trevino-Teddlie, director of the Mexican-American Program at Perkins School of Theology, led commission members through part of "Pentecost Journey," a basic resource that she helped put together for the National Plan for Hispanic Ministry. The curriculum sensitizes congregations to issues relating to Hispanics.
Carcano said she has celebrated the improvements in her own life because of her faith and involvement in the church, but stressed that she knows "people of my generation" who continue to struggle and live in poverty.
That struggle has intensified with the economic decline of recent years, she added, recalling church families who were "working hard but not making it."
Maria Cantu, a candidate for lay missioner from Vida Nueva United Methodist Church in Houston, agreed that poverty, along with immigration status and difficulty with language, were the major problems faced by Hispanics today. She participated in a panel discussion with two other local Hispanic women and two Hispanic commission members.
But the Mexican native and grandmother of 11 had high praise for the freedom she felt within the church. "As Hispanic women, we are now free to express ourselves - we can preach, we can teach," she told commission members. "All women, Hispanic or not, have gifts to bring to the church."
Irma Turrubistes, a pastoral leader at Vida Nueva, also sees value in her neighborhood evangelistic work and involvement in the church, despite the lack of economic resources. "One of the reasons I have come to the United Methodist Church is that I see a big future," she said.
The Rev. Maria T. Santiago, a commission member from Puerto Rico, still finds barriers for women, both inside and outside the church. In Puerto Rico, for example, men usually are pastors of the big churches, while "women tend to be sent to missions, sometimes impossible missions. We go where nobody wants to go.
"We have to empower ourselves," she added. "No one is going to do it for us."
Even low-income women can empower themselves. Turrubistes noted that every morning a small group of women comes to her home to pray, eat and prepare for the tasks of the day. In the church itself, about 35 women sell food to raise money for mission. "It's the women who are doing it," she said. "They come with their children."
In the neighborhood around Central Park United Methodist Church, the Rev. Guadeloupe Diaz has been organizing the women and other residents, many of them immigrants, for the past four years. Programs range from a counseling program for abused women to preschool classes to spiritual guidance. "We never close our doors, even if we can't pay our bills," Diaz said.
Commission members visited Central Park and witnessed the work that has been put into the building, with the help of volunteer labor and a $25,000 grant. As she showed them around, Diaz mentioned it was not unusual, on a given day, to have a viewing organized by a nearby funeral home take place in the sanctuary as preschool kids played in the social hall and women prepared meals in the attached kitchen.
Commission members also visited Iglesia Metodista Unida San Marcos, the first Hispanic church chartered by the Texas Annual Conference in 1989. In addition to a meal and lively worship, the Rev. Silverio Sanchez shared his journey from Mexico to the United States and from small-business owner to pastor.
He told how his congregation bought and converted a former bank building into a house of worship. "We're still in the saving business," he quipped.
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom · (646) 369-3759 · New York
Living the Questions at SRCC
My Spiritual Biography (early years)
My Spiritual Autobiography (early years), by Rick Mitchell
My earliest spiritual recollection is that of marveling at the infinite span of time and space -- as I looked up into the night sky and wondered how it could be that anything could have no beginning or end. And even today, I marvel at how the sky is filled with the stars whose light began to travel toward us so many millions of years ago. How can people try to encapsulate the Reality of such a vast universe within the limited grasp of our small, human minds?
Another equally important remembrance is that of knowing the feel and reality of love in my life from a very early age. Whether from the expressive love of my mother, the steady, if sometimes tumultuous, love of my father, the fondness I felt from my favorite aunt and many friends, or the reticent, almost noncommittal, love of my paternal grandparents, I knew -- amid it all -- that I was loved and wanted.
After all, I was the result of a very difficult birth, where a doctor had given up on saving either me or my mother. But, mercifully, our lives were saved due to the intervention of a dear friend’s mother. I was an only child.
My mother was a very important influence on my spiritual life. We spent a lot of time together after my dad took a job out of town and was home only on weekends. We shared many evenings in which she would read books to me, and occasionally a woman in town whose husband was in the service would come over and play the piano and sing with us. It was a stimulating period intellectually and spiritually for me.
My mother dug a pool, single-handedly, in our back yard and lined it with concrete. It was a somewhat rough and crude job, but it held water long enough to be able to take a dip on summer nights, and she worked at teaching me to float -- in preparation for learning to swim.
A few years later, she would tell me that accepting God’s grace was like floating -- just “let go” and let God support the weight of all my cares and worries. I tried to follow her instructions, but I think my motivation was too focused on the need I felt to “be saved” -- and too little on recognizing and accepting that I was loved by God. It was not until my childhood years had passed that I found that key and made peace with the “issue” of salvation. I was in high school at the time and had gone through a series of responding to “altar calls” through the years -- emotional times of feeling that I wanted to somehow be closer to God. I “gave my heart to the Lord” and was baptized (twice) but continued to feel conflicted and anxious. I know now that it was partly due to the emotional manipulation and at time outright exploitation of youthful naiveté. Instead of getting an onjective instruction on God’s love and care for all people, I was getting a steady dose of emotional revivalist preaching on the “plan of salvation,” and I was constantly told that the only alternative to following the plan successfully was to burn in hell for all eternity.
Although the human interactions around me were (thankfully) very loving and supporting, the understanding of God I was taught was quite limited and narrow. When it finally broke through to my teen-aged consciousness that God was benevolent and truly loved me, I found it extremely liberating and joyful. It was, indeed, the sought-after experience of reassurance and acceptance by God, and while I told no one at the time, I knew the question of my own personal salvation had been answered for me for life. I could begin to focus on aspects of God’s love for me and for all creation -- and on doing something about building my own life.
It was not apparent to me then, but I believe that experience came about as part of (and maybe was even one of the causes of) a social maturing and realization that matters of the heart, spirit, conscience or other important life questions could not be answered and solved by formulas or “plans,” and that the necessary key would always be love and openness to others and to the “other” in our lives -- which we often see and identify as that mysterious entity called “God.” In my experience that force or entity is the love we know and share in our everyday life experiences. And, in my experience, I have found it to have a personal face and so I have come to refer to it as “Love.”
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Resurrection as a Spiritual Practice
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Closing Prayer: Lura
Meal: Rick and Trader Joe
Closing Prayer: Greg
Meal: Lenita and Dick
Closing Prayer: Micky
Closing Prayer: Doug
Meal: Jan & Greg