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National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry Coordinator's Report to Hispanic/Latino Task Force & General Board of Global Ministries: February 2008

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The following represents a list of the main areas/projects that I invested most of my time and energy in during the year 2007 working as Coordinator of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry.

  • Work with the Writers Team to finalize a report and new proposal for General Conference
  • Meet and work closely with staff from the four general agencies
  • Prepare and coordinate all the logistics for the February meeting in Philadelphia, PA
  • Latin American Consultation in Panama City
  • Congregational Development School in Arkansas
  • Active participant in Path One team through the full year (national strategy on congregational development)
  • Preparation for budget hearing and presentation at Simpsonwood to the Connectional Table and GCFA
  • Coordinate the design and production of the brochure for the five National Plans to be presented at the General Conference Brief in Dallas/Ft. Worth
  • Collect and prepare all the possible resources that could be needed by the strategy group going to General Conference
  • Annual Conference visits and dialogues with Cabinets
  • Office Work

WRITERS TEAM

In response to the urgent call of our president, Bishop Carcaño, a Writers Committee was created late in November 2006 to initiate conversations on how to respond to the need to develop our report/proposal for General Conference 2008.

An official invitation was extended to Rev. Michael Rivas to work in conjunction with the recently formed Writers Team and the National Coordinating Office to create such a report.  A tentative draft of the outline was presented and discussed with the entire committee during the annual meeting held on February 22 – 24, 2007 in Philadelphia.

In early March 2007, the National Office received a letter of resignation from Rev. Rivas, urging the National Office and the Writers Committee to create an alternative strategy, which culminated in inviting Rev. José Palos to assume the task of finalizing the project.  Rev. Jose Palos did this by working in partnership with Marigene Chamberlain, Helene Slessarev-Jamir and the assistance of the rest of the committee members.

The original deadline of August 1, 2007 was moved to July 1, 2007, making the entire process more difficult. By July 19, 2007, a complete electronic version of the report/proposal for General Conference 2009 was delivered to the office of Elliot Wright, located at 475 Riverside Drive, concluding the process with great satisfaction.

Dates of meetings held:

January 2 – 4, 2007                Phoenix, Arizona
March 20, 2007                       Conference Call (Rev. José Palos became the official writer)
May 29 – June 2, 2007            Phoenix, Arizona
July 13, 2007                           Conference Call
July 19, 2007                           Report was delivered

MEETINGS WITH STAFF FROM GENERAL AGENCIES

At the beginning of the year, Rev. Saúl Trinidad and I met with staff and representatives of the four general agencies in Washington D.C. to measure and evaluate the process of implementing our goals during the current quadrennium.  Included in this review was an assessment of all the workshops and training events that have been offered across the nation.

A significant effort was also made to strengthen the collaborative spirit that already existed between the National Office and all agencies through modeling the methodology of the National Plan and the various forms of accompaniment.

Early in October we met for a second time to introduce our new proposal for the coming quadrennium and to offer the opportunity to discuss the agencies' concerns, ideas and recommendations to the National Office and the committee as a whole.  A second objective of the meeting was to brainstorm how to promote more effectively the Plan with its resources in a more comprehensive form, reflecting our partnership with the four general boards.

Dates of the meetings held:

January 4 – 5, 2007
October 3 - 4, 2007

General Board of Church and Society
We met with the General Secretary and staff to step up the process of developing at least three modules before the end of the quadrennium, which would include an introductory workshop, training of facilitators and a final written version.

We worked in partnership with Bill Medford on hiring Marigene Chamberlain as their new consultant.  It was determined from the beginning that one of her primary responsibilities would be to help the agency in finalizing some of the pending goals from previous quadrennia, as well as to assist them in finding more effective forms of implementing the Plan from their own perspective.

At the moment, Marigene continues working on the final stage of the following three modules:
"Wesleyan Theology and the Poor"
"Immigration"
"Advocacy and Environmental Justice"

Her contract includes developing and organizing a pilot workshop together with the final manuscript version.  I also worked in partnership with the General Secretary, Jim Winkler, on developing a regional consultation on the subject of immigration and advocacy in Los Angeles.  Significant effort was made to cross the boundaries of our own denomination and to include grassroots groups as direct participants in the events.

General Board of Higher Education
We have continued working closely with Saúl Espino on fulfilling the agency's goals for the current quadrennium and trying to find new avenues in their process of recruitment and enrolling candidates on the different programs offered by our seminaries on Hispanic/Latino ministry.

Through the initiative of Bob Kholer's office, a dialogue was initiated during the month of September with a select group of national leaders to design and implement a series of four jurisdictional conferences that will conclude by the fall of 2009 with a national dialogue addressing the most significant needs of Hispanic/Latino Leadership Development.

By December 9, 2007, the new task force on theological education met for the first time with staff members of Higher Education and Ministry.

General Board of Global Ministries
A new contract was negotiated with Mission Personal for Rev. Saúl Trinidad to continue working exclusively for the National Plan as a consultant in the areas of Mobilization and Development of New Leadership.

Our office was moved to the thirteenth floor, Room 1330, as an intentional effort by the agency to consolidate all the personnel and resources related to Latin American ministry, including the U.S.A., México and the Caribbean.

As an initiative from the National Office, Module III is now in process addressing the urgent need of local congregations to start working with HIV/AIDS.  The first workshop was offered at Alma Mathews on October 11 - 13, 2007, in New York City, with 27 participants representing four annual conferences, lay and clergy.  As a follow up to the training, a matching grant in the amount of $10,000 has been offered in partnership between GBGM and the Latino Commission on AIDS.

We continue working on the production of Module III on"Violencia Domestica," hoping that it will be ready by the fall of the current year.  A collaborative work has been done between Dionisio Salazar's office and my office on working with the national team of consultants, as well as on assisting Lydia Muñoz on her assignment working with youth at the jurisdictional level.

General Board of Discipleship
A great gathering happened at the beginning of the year on Nashville, Tennessee with a significant group of consultants of the National Plan, collaborating with the four general agencies.  The main purpose of the meeting was to strengthen team work mentality and to clarify some of the confusing aspects of our work in the field.  Saúl Trinidad was the force behind the fulfillment of this goal.

A constantly developing dialogue has taken place between Edwin Santos and the National Office addressing some of the administrative concerns expressed previously to our executive committee.

FEBRUARY ANNUAL MEETING

Our annual committee meeting was held at the Hilton Philadelphia Airport Hotel from February 22 – 24, 2007.  There were 23 participants including members and visitors.  A full agenda was included and presided over by Bishop Minerva Carcaño. A total of three proposals from GBHEM were recommended for funding and one was sent back to the applicants.

List of the approved proposals
Central Texas Conference:"Bridges of the Spirit Training Institute"
Tennessee Annual Conference:"Martin Methodist College"
Training Coordinators of Hispanic/Latino Ministries

Those submitted through GBGM were referred to a conference call on March 20, 2007.

LATIN AMERICAN CONSULTATION ON PANAMA

I was invited, as representative of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, to attend this historic event from February 27 - March 2, 2007.  This experience was refreshing and gave me a more realistic understanding about the relationship between the autonomous churches of Latin American and the Caribbean and the UMC.  This experience additionally opened up a great opportunity for developing new relationships and networking between Latin America and the National Office.

SCHOOL OF CONGREGATIONAL DEVELOPMENT

From August 2 – 7, 2007, I traveled to Kansas City to participate as a facilitator of a workshop on Hispanic/Latino Congregations at the School of Congregational Development. This is a yearly event organized in partnership with GBOD, GBGM and the annual conference hosting the event. This was the right context for meeting, sharing and promoting the National Plan to many annual conference representatives.  A total of 57 participants came to our workshop, including some staff, district superintendents, ordained clergy and laity.

PATH ONE TEAM PARTICIPATION

This team met throughout 2007 a total of four occasions in which I fully participated including the meeting in Arkansas prior to the School of Congregational Development.  My participation was on behalf of the National Plan together with representatives of the four other National Plans. Travel and expenses were covered by our office because of the limited funds of Path One. This will be different beginning in 2008 when they will assume all of the travel expenses.

BUDGET HEARING AT SIMPSONWOOD RETREAT CENTER

Early on January of last year, an official budget request in the amount of $3,800,000 on behalf of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry was presented to the General Board of Global Ministries (Sam Dixon's office), including a detailed description on the allocation of the monies by the agencies and programs. (Form"C")

By February, we received a recommendation to review and adjust our budget request in alignment with the general budget of the agency.  This is a request that was recommended by the executive committee not to follow our original request of $3,800,000 for 2009 – 2012.

From May 21 – 24, 2007, a presentation was made to the Connectional Table and GCFA at Simpsonwood Retreat Center in Atlanta requesting the above-mentioned amount, receiving a unanimous recommendation by both bodies.  In a later action by both bodies the amount recommended was reduced to $2,775,000 as part of the portion allocated by GBGM.  This action raised some concern for both Bishop Minerva Carcaño and myself to explain to the representatives of the Connectional Table and GCFA as to how the monies of our National Plan are allocated and invested by the four general agencies.

The National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry is the only one of the five national plans that allocates its monies through the four agencies.  The other plans work with GBGM or GBOD, but not with the four agencies at the same time.  After an intense dialogue between all the parties involved, a total of $3,800,000 will be requested to G.C. through the budget request of each general agency.  The breakdown of the total amount is as follows:

GBGM             $100,000.00
GBOD             $2,795,000.00
GBHEM           $425,000.00
GBCS              $480,000.00
Total                $3,800,000.00     

COORDINATED WORK WITH OTHER NATIONAL PLANS

By July of last year I started to promote a dialogue between the four other national coordinators of the ethnic plans.  The main purpose of this discussion was to develop a strong partnership between us and create an effective strategy on how to project a unified body with goals and programs that will resonate with the four provocative propositions received from the Council of Bishops.  A beautiful brochure was produced and distributed at Dallas/Fort Worth during the general conference briefing from January 27 – 28, 2008.

GENERAL CONFERENCE PREPARATION

In addition to all the effort invested in coordinating the production of the report/proposal, and in the preparation and presentation at the quadrennial budget processes at the Simpsonwood  Retreat Center, and in strengthening our partnership with the other national plans for the G. C. briefing in Dallas/Ft. Worth, I have been working on:

  • requesting $ 10,000 from each of the general agencies to cover all the expenses related to the General Conference work; (full amount of $40,000)
  • signing a contract for the right number of rooms for our working delegation at Dallas/Fort Worth;
  • collecting and organizing materials and information that will be needed by our delegation;
  • organizing an opportunity for dialogue with delegates, beneficiaries and friends of the plan;
  • coordinating the production of promotional materials including a newsletter, banners, bookmarks and more;
  • recruiting potential members of our delegation.

ANNUAL CONFERENCE VISITS

This visit included meeting with bishops and extended cabinet with the specific goal of walking with them through the different aspects/components of the Plan, clarifying the role of the National Committee and creating the connection that would facilitate for the General Agencies their work at the conference level.

Additionally, I met with the Hispanic/Latino leadership to make evident for them that as a National Plan we are working in their behalf with staff and conference leadership.

The purpose of this was to encourage them to be intentional on the use of all the resources offered by the Plan through the general agencies, including writing, personnel and financial resources.

California – Pacific, Nebraska, Minnesota, North West New York, New York, New England, North Georgia, Central Texas, Greater New Jersey and East Pennsylvania Conference

CALIFORNIA - PACIFIC CONFERENCE
Participants: Dionisio Salazar and Francisco Cañas

For the second time in less than a year, we visited this conference for two days.  We met with staff and laity to develop a structure that will permit the implementation of the Plan using its guidelines and methodology.  Previous work with their designated staff on Hispanic Ministry revealed their significant resistance to utilizing the basic components of the Plan. After years with a high level of frustration from clergy and laity because of not being able to respond to the needs of a continuously growing and diverse Hispanic population in their territory, we were invited to discuss the possibilities of working on the implementation of the Plan.  This was done by developing a new conference strategy on Hispanic/Latino Ministry and by deploying one of our missioners as the beginning of a fresh and good partnership.  The deployment of a consultant and a missioner of the Plan are in process through GBGM.  On a more recent note, they hired a new conference coordinator for Hispanic/Latino Ministry who will start his work on March 1 of the current year.

NEW ENGLAND CONFERENCE
Participants: Saúl Trinidad, Cookie Santiago , consultant; Edgar Avitia, GBGM; Francisco Cañas.

We met recently with the Bishop and the extended cabinet to reactivate their conference committee on the implementation of the National Plan providing a clear and realistic understanding of it.  We dedicated a morning session with the Bishop and his cabinet to explain the different roles of each agency, and culminated with the introduction of their new consultant designated by GBGM.

An afternoon session with the Hispanic/Latino leadership took place to address significant conflicts between themselves and some members of the cabinet.  A basic misunderstanding of the different roles played by a person in the conference structure contributed to those frictions, which deteriorated the progress of the ministry in general.  A consultant will be working with them, and the Bishop made the commitment to invite us to have a training session with their non-Hispanic clergy as soon as their calendar allows.   

NORTHWEST NEW YORK CONFERENCE
Participants: Rev. Nora Martínez and Rev. Francisco Cañas

This was a follow-up visit to cabinet and members of the conference committee on Hispanic/Latino Ministry.  Significant progress was made on reorganizing the committee, and substantial work was done on reshaping their conference strategy.   New needs and goals were established through the focus conversation workshop led by their consultant, Nora Martínez.

WORK AT THE OFFICE

On September 11, after a difficult period of conversations between Diana Guillén, Human Resources and myself, a friendly agreement was reached among all parties. Diana resigned from all of her responsibilities as the administrative assistant by signing a letter of agreement between her and Global Ministries, as her official employer.  Immediately after her departure, Alberto Dominguez was invited to work on a temporary basis while a search process for a new staff person began on September 15, 2007.  We received a total of four applications from which we invited two for an interview and finally officially hired Alberto Dominguez.

Alberto has already fulfilled the 90 days of probation and now is a full-time employee with full benefits at GBGM.  I have received a lot of positive feedback about his work and dedication and I hope that he will continue improving the work of our office.

Another important aspect of my work during 2007 that I would like to mention is that we were able to recover a total of $11,524.77 in reimbursements from the year 2006 owed prior to my arrival to the office. And finally in December of last year, I was able to begin a dialogue with a potential financial donor for the National Plan, resulting in a positive response. A request of $75,000 was proposed in order to cover a portion of the salary for one of the regional missionaries.

NETWORKING DEVELOPMENTS

  • I met with the Director of the Tepeyac Association, a local ecumenical group located in the heart of New York City, to work on issues of justice and peace and including immigration.
  • I met with the Regional Director of the National Association for Prevention of HIV/AIDS.
  • I also met with the National Coordinator of Day Laborers to explore the possibilities of developing a national network between their centers and churches that are willing to offer some level of assistance to their constituency.
  • At the beginning of October, I started working on a collaboration with the National Association of Day Laborers to organize a worker center in the city of Freehold, New Jersey.  This is an ongoing process that recently resulted in developing a partnership with some unions in establishing a regional worker center.