Eight Arkansas students graduate from Hispanic church planting training

The Northwest District of the Arkansas Conference, in partnership with Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church (formerly known as the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship) graduated eight students for church planting in Arkansas who are native speakers of Spanish. The students come from two congregations: four students each from The Journey UMC Fort Smith and Nueva Vida UMC Dardanelle.

The commissioning service was held on Saturday, March 28 at First UMC Dardanelle. Present to celebrate the commissioning were the Rev. Maxine Allen, Arkansas Conference assistant director of mission and ministry for mission field engagement; the Rev. Bud Reeves, superintendent of the Northwest District; and the Revs. Alma Perez and Douglas Ruffle, both of New Church Starts Discipleship Ministries in Nashville, Tenn.

Arkansas students of the Path 1 Lay Missionary Planting Network included Jose Girón, Suni Méndez, Kelsey Castillo, Oscar Nava, Rómulo Guerra, Vilma Recinos, Ana Gallardo and Eduardo Gallardo. COURTESY PHOTO

Arkansas students of the Path 1 Lay Missionary Planting Network included Jose Girón, Suni Méndez, Kelsey Castillo, Oscar Nava, Rómulo Guerra, Vilma Recinos, Ana Gallardo and Eduardo Gallardo.
COURTESY PHOTO

The Revs. Julio Ibarra, Vitalino Méndez and Jim Benfer led the training. Group sessions were hosted by the Rev. Larry Martineau of Alma UMC. Grants from the Northwest District and the Arkansas Conference Committee on Ethnic and Language Ministries provided funding.

The curriculum, Path 1 Lay Missionary Planting Network (LMPN), is distributed by Discipleship Ministries. Path 1 is a team of mission-driven, passionate and diverse leaders drawn from national, regional and local levels of the United Methodist Church, providing collaborative leadership to evangelize the United States through new congregations. The Path 1 Team leads a denominational movement to reach more people—more young people, more diverse people—as disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, by creating new places for new people. Ultimately, Path 1 seeks to create the leaders, cultures and processes needed to regain our healthy denominational habit of starting at least one new church each day.

LMPN curriculum is available in English and Spanish; this particular training was held in Spanish. The training consists of 10 events of a full day each, immersing students in Bible study, worship, preaching and learning. Sessions include:

  • Church Planting 101
  • United Methodism 101
  • Basic Wesleyan Theology
  • Community
  • Teaching and Preaching
  • Caring
  • Leadership
  • Multiplication
  • Christian Stewardship
  • Celebration

Students are expected to participate in all the sessions, make commitments to greater involvement in local churches and assess their call from God to help start new congregations. Students in the classes have already helped with the on-going launch of new Hispanic church starts in Morrilton (Solo Cristo Salva UMC), and in Russellville (Jesucristo es el Única Hacia Dios UMC).

The first Path 1 LMPN in Arkansas for Hispanic church planting, brought together by the Rev. Bob Crossman, was held two years ago and trained the teachers of this session.

—submitted by Jim Benfer