Tag Archives: Spanish-speaking

Spanish Ministry at Garden Chapel

Garden Chapel has a thriving children’s ministry that has grown out of their flourishing summer camp, community garden club, and a music ministry with community children. As more and more children form the community have become involved in the church there is a growing need to connect with their parents who are largely Spanish speakers.

The Missional Operations Grant provided by Franconia Conference to Garden Chapel is to support he congregations partnership with local pastor, Hector Quinones, who has a heart for the immigrant community. In addition, the grant will provide leadership and intercultural training,  written materials in Spanish, aid for bi-lingual service and to support a monthly Spanish service.

Holy Hospitality

By Ben Sutter, benjamins5@goshen.edu, Franconia Conference CommunicationsBen in the coffee shop

One thing I’ve experienced this first week of living in Philadelphia is hospitality. I arrived last Monday at one in the morning and was picked up by my boss, Steve Kriss. Steve took me to his own house, because my more permanent housing arrangements hadn’t been settled yet. He welcomed me into his life and his work for three days, allowing me to live with him. He embraced my questions and my musings as he began to describe the city and the conference. He helped me start recognizing and thinking about the nuances and characteristics that I would run into in this new setting. I felt acknowledged and accepted into his work in the conference. Steve showed me only the beginning of the incredible hospitality that I have encountered in my first eleven days in Philly.

Last Wednesday I was welcomed into the home of Pastor Aldo, one of the pastors of Philadelphia Praise Center. Aldo lives in a home with five other Indonesian young men and an older woman we call “Ibu” or “mother”. I’ve come to dearly love staying in this house, even though I’ve barely been there a week. Everyone in the house is busy, but they’re all interested in each other’s lives. Food is a very important part of how we relate to each other. Almost every time I open the front door and come back to the house, the first question I’m asked is if I’ve eaten yet. Whoever is home at mealtime eats together. I fill my plate with rice and noodles and Ibu always tells me that I need more. She takes my plate from me and adds at least one more heaping spoonful.

My roommates Yonathan and Ardi have embraced me as a friend and brother in Christ. They’ve taken me around the city and shown me the ropes. Yonathan showed off Chinatown and the Redding Market, while Ardi explained the train system to me and took me to the train station to buy my ticket to work. They’ve treated me to food, buying me McDonalds and Phileo Yogurt. We hang out together in the evenings, watching TV in the house and walking around the city.

This past Sunday, I attended my first services at Philadelphia Praise Center, one in Indonesian and a second in Spanish. I was amazed at everyone’s willingness to include me. People welcomed me as I walked into the sanctuary, shaking my hand and saying “hello,” “hola,” or just giving me a big smile. Even though languages were different, communication was possible.

In the Indonesian service, I listened to the message through a translator speaking into a head set. The songs weren’t translated, however, and many were sung in Indonesian. Most of the songs showed English translations alongside the Indonesian words on the screen in the front of the church, but I found myself drawn to singing the Indonesian. It was too hard to follow both the English translation and the Indonesian words sung by the congregation. Singing the Indonesian words, even in my poor pronunciation, made me feel apart of the community. It didn’t matter if I knew exactly what I was singing or even if I was doing it well. All that mattered was that I was joining the community in praising God. I could tell that at the core of whatever I was singing, God was being praised—God received the glory.

I’m excited to see where this summer takes me. I have felt embraced by the conference and supported by its people. I recognize the presence of God in the relationships that I’ve begun to foster and the barriers that I’m beginning to help break down. I pray that as I continue my work, I will continue to see God’s dream for the world revealed in authentic and tangible ways.


Maná de Vida Eterna springs alive along the Hudson River

Charles A. Ness, Perkiomenville

The Hudson River Valley just north of New York City is a beautiful historic area that attracts both vacationers and residents. Towns with names like, Tarrytown, Ossining, Sleepy Hollow and Croton on the Hudson, have had an idyllic appeal for hundreds of years.Mana de Vida

It is also home to many Spanish-speaking persons from a variety of Central and South American countries, including Daniel and Jacky Lopez and their two sons who came to the United States 15 years ago from Chile. Daniel works as a maintenance supervisor at a children’s hospital and Jacky is employed in domestic services.

Years ago the Lord delivered Daniel and Jacky from a life of addiction and healed their marriage. This gave them a passion to share Christ’s love with others who need to know abundant life in Christ. For several years they have had a desire to be part of a church that could effectively reach the Spanish-speaking persons in Ossining. Daniel had led several persons to Christ who found it difficult to assimilate into their existing church. After prayer they decided to begin a new fellowship for these and other persons.

In February 2010 the group began a Friday evening meeting in the Lopez home attended by several persons from their home church and those who had recently professed Christ. It was very small at first but as persons came to faith in Christ they outgrew the Lopez living room. In December 2010 they began renting space in another church building. This new church, Maná de Vida Eterna, has adopted the Confession of Faith in a Mennonite Perspective as their statement of faith.

This group got connected to Franconia Conference when Pastor Alfredo Navea from Viña del Mar, Chile, who had been friends with the Lopez family for many years, introduced them to Kirk Hanger, Pastor of New Hope Fellowship, Alexandria, VA, and Charles Ness, Pastor of Perkiomenville Mennonite Church. This began a relationship where Daniel and his family attended Perkiomenville’s annual church retreat in August and persons from Perkiomenville and Franconia Conference have gone to worship services in New York. With Kirk serving as LEAD Minister for Perkiomenville, he and Charlie came together to support Daniel and the Manna of Eternal Life Church.

In December representatives of Franconia Conference, Steve Kriss, and Noel Santiago, persons from Philadelphia Praise Center, along with Kirk, Charlie and several men from Perkiomenville, attended the dedication of their new worship space. It was an encouragement to this emerging church to have representatives from the broader church present to bless this new beginning. In February 2011, Kirk and Charlie assisted with the first baptism. It is anticipated that this summer both the New Hope and Perkiomenville congregations will assist Manna of Eternal Life with outreach efforts which will further enhance the relationship and be mutually beneficial to all the churches.

A Franconia Conference Missional Operations Grant has provided important seed money for rent and other start up costs for this emerging church. Additionally, Daniel is participating in Eastern Mennonite Seminary’s STEP program which provides training for people who are licensed for pastoral ministry or have been encouraged to consider pastoral ministry—who may not have college, Bible school, or seminary training. STEP combines spiritual and personal formation with content-based learning in Bible, theology, leadership, and ministry skills in a very practical way. Daniel attends a class in Philadelphia one Saturday a month. This is equipping him to be a leader and giving him an understanding of Anabaptist/Mennonite theology and practice.

This Partner in Mission relationship between Franconia Conference, New Hope Fellowship and Perkiomenville Mennonite Church and the Manna of Eternal Life Church is another example of how the Lord is working through relationships to connect congregations and conferences across what may have formerly been seen as boundaries that were not to be crossed. This new paradigm allows for authentic relationships that are both life giving and life sustaining and enables both congregations and the conference to participate in the fresh move of God. The Spirit is flowing from the Potomac River and Perkiomen Creek to the Hudson River to build the Kingdom of God.