November 14, 2016
Story and photos submitted by the Rev. Cesar Duran
Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministry, Rocky Mountain Conference
On Oct. 29, Gracia Divina celebrated its third anniversary as a Hispanic ministry of the Rocky Mountain Conference of The United Methodist Church. It has also recently become the only standalone Hispanic local church in the Conference in several decades.
It started three years ago in the facilities of Alameda Heights United Methodist Church of Denver, Colorado. The Hispanic pastor Guillermo Reyes, with the support of his wife San Juana Reyes and daughters Karen and Jacky, began this ministry with the vision to reach out to the Latino community of Denver. Now, God has blessed them greatly as they have an attendance of around 60 every Sunday.
Since I began my responsibility as the Hispanic ministry developer in the Rocky Mountain Conference a year ago, I have been visiting and closely supervising this Hispanic ministry. We are happy for their progress. In November and December, I gave a leadership training at Gracia Divina and this May, I began another training about Methodism. I have seen how these members are growing in their leadership and ministry, inside and outside the congregation, and I praise God for that.
At the same time, Transitional Ministry Developer Deb Olenyik and Metropolitan District Superintendent Paul Kottke began conversations with the last members of Alameda Heights UMC visualizing about their future. After many conversations they decided not to continue the English-speaking ministry and to support their Hispanic ministry, Gracia Divina.
In this way, Alameda Heights UMC gave its facilities and legacy to Gracia Divina. On June 12, they had their last worship service celebrating their time serving the community. Since then, Gracia Divina has been the only group worshiping in that building. It is a very active congregation with the vision to grow more and plant new Hispanic ministries around Denver.
The anniversary celebration honored the former pastors and members of Alameda Heights UMC because they are fruit of them. Worship service was led by the music band of Gracia Divina, and Pastor Guillermo Reyes preached in English and Spanish. After that, we had a delicious dinner and a wonderful fellowship time.
I strongly believe that we need more vital Hispanic ministries like Gracia Divina in the Denver area to reach the Latino community. As The United Methodist Church, we are called by God to be an inclusive, multicultural, multi-ethnic and multilingual church, with the purpose to reach this society that is changing every day. My prayer is that God lets us continue to move forward together as one body in Jesus Christ.