Recently, I was preparing to teach the certified Lay Speaking Class in Spanish about spiritual gifts and I took the online spiritual gifts assessment from the United Methodist website. My primary spiritual gift according to the assessment was interpretation of tongues. The description says that “those who are gifted to interpret tongues help build bridges across cultural, generational, and language divides.” This made me think about local churches. How can local churches be interpreters of tongues? How can local churches build bridges between different cultures, generations, and languages?
My work as a bridge builder, as a Missionary for the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries, is to help local churches in the Detroit Conference connect to the Hispanic/Latino community in their neighborhoods. I work with the Detroit Conference Committee on Hispanic/Latino Ministries to help local churches develop Hispanic/Latino Ministries. In the fall of 2011, we launched a leadership academy called Sowing Seeds Academy or Academia Sembrando Semillas. As part of that academy, we offer training workshops on how to develop Hispanic/Latino ministries, but we also offer workshops and events for the development of cross-cultural competency. These workshops and events include Spanish Language Workshops, the Hispanic/Latino Ministries Celebration, and Sharing Stories gatherings. Local churches can be involved in the Sowing Seeds Academy as one way to build bridges.
Another way to build bridges is for local churches to go through the process of being an Immigrant Welcoming Congregation. Justice for Our Neighbor-Southeastern Michigan is leading this process with help from the General Board of Church and Society. The process is a one year journey that churches take to start building bridges with immigrants in their neighborhoods and beyond. The churches are lead through that journey with the help of the Justice Discipler, Jorge Luna-Cruz.
How can local churches be interpreters of tongues? How can local churches build bridges between different cultures, generations, and languages?
Local churches can participate in the Sowing Seeds Academy or in the Immigrant Welcoming Congregation process. Or local churches can find other ways to build bridges.
I invite you to join in this process of building bridges.
Sonya Luna- Hispanic/Latino Missionary