Cradling her newborn, a young mother accepts a basket of baby supplies and Spanish-language literature about immunizations, breastfeeding and more.
A family new to the United States from Ecuador delights at donations of food and furniture. The children are welcomed with open arms into the Friday-evening Bible school, where teachers lead lessons and games.
Nearly 30 adults and children gather on Sunday evenings for a Spanish-language worship service.
"These are just some of the blessings the Hispanic community has received," says Persida Ramos at Christ Community United Methodist Church in Clayton, N.C.
As part of the Wake (County) Circles of Hispanic Ministries — a program of the Raleigh District of the United Methodist Church — Ramos and her husband, Jose Javier Montanez, have been leading a growing Hispanic ministry at the church.
Expanded Multi-Cultural Ministry
It began in 2003 with Sunday evening worship services in Spanish. Since then, the ministry has grown to include Bible studies, children's programs, a food pantry, a lending library and a soccer field.
"We don't have two churches under one roof, but one church with two languages," says the Rev. Richard Spivey, senior pastor. "It's what makes our church unique."
Under the leadership of Javier Montanez and Persida Ramos, the Spanish-speaking ministry of Christ Community aims to provide a church environment where Spanish-speaking neighbors will feel welcome. The church provides a Sunday worship service, a weekly Bible study, and meetings for children and youth to learn about God and fellowship.
The ministry also provides document translation, referrals and community information, and offers food, furniture and clothing.
One of the first efforts of the church was delivering baskets of supplies to mothers with newborns. "We began visiting homes and saw a real need to help the babies and children," said Ramos, who has a degree in early childhood education.
Another ministry has been the construction of a soccer field on church property, not only to serve Latino families, but also to benefit the community. The church installed an underground drainage system and top-quality sports turf, and purchased goals, bleachers and soccer balls.
Ramos says church families worked side by side to help measure the field, fertilize and water.
"I have never seen a congregation as open to diversity as this one," Spivey says. "We continue to build those bridges."
Robert R. Webb III
Director of Rural Church