Hispanic New Faith Community Launched in Stone Park, IL
Our latest “Bright Spots” good news spotlight comes from Northern Illinois. Rev. J. Martin Lee, long-term congregational developer for the Northern Illinois Conference, recently shared two stories. We’re happy to join him in celebrating these signs of hope for United Methodism in Northern Illinois.
In the midst of the pandemic and Chicago’s cold weather, more than sixty people gathered to launch a Hispanic New Faith Community in Stone Park, Illinois, on February 6, 2022. It is a new site called Living Waters New Faith Community led by Geraldo and Judy Rodriguez. Pastor Geraldo has a large family with ten brothers and sisters, four of them adopted. After a two-hour-long worship service, the family provided lunch for everyone.
Rev. Lee commented about the new faith community:
I am so thankful that we are able to utilize this small church building. The name changed multiple times over the years. We have kept the building through ups and downs over the years for missional reasons. My sense is that soon this space, with a ninety-person seating capacity, will not be big enough for this New Faith Community. In the meantime, I am thankful that they can make their home here in this church. There was a lot of energy and excitement at worship.
Rev. Lee added:
I believe that planting new churches is not optional but a must for our denomination to reach out to more people, more younger people, and more diverse people. In my view, many people of Hispanic and Latino descent are searching for a safe space where they can cry out to God about the struggles in their lives. They may worship differently from some of us, but their love of God is no less than ours.
Because of that commitment, representatives from each district of the Northern Illinois Conference of The United Methodist Church hit the “Church Trail,” visiting potential new church sites and redevelopment areas across the conference over two days last November. The itinerary included churches that housed several ministries and empty farm fields that held potential. The group listened to the church's story at each site, prayed with the pastor, and witnessed ministries in action.
As Martin Lee reflected on the tour, he said, "When I asked the group about what they heard from the visit in one word, it was 'Hope'! Yes, we experienced a sign of hope in the midst of the pandemic, seeing pastors being creative, doing ministries in their unique context."
As members of the committee reflected on the ministries that they saw and prayed for, they all had a feeling of hope for the conference’s future. Despite the many challenges of ministry, the pastors and congregations in all areas of the conference are following God's plan and stepping out in faith to develop new and exciting ministries.
Read the story on the Northern Illinois Conference website: https://www.umcnic.org/news/back-on-the-ministry-trail.
If you want to learn more about these and other new faith communities in Northern Illinois, please contact Martin Lee at [email protected].