• 57°

Hispanic ministries finds a home at FUMC

One of the greatest issues facing the United States is immigration. Many thousands of people are coming into the U.S., predominantly from Mexico and Central America, seeking a better life for themselves and their families.

The two greatest needs that these future Americans have is to learn English and to become a part of their new communities. There is a ministry at the First United Methodist Church that seeks to meet both needs.

Jose Luis Zamora was hired by the United Methodist district office to lead Hispanic ministries within the district.

“We have a ministry where we visit homes,” he said. “We contact about 25 families. I record CDs with a message and give them to the people. We give about 100 of those each month.”

Zamora said the ministries works to help Hispanic immigrants acclimate into their new culture, and even get to know others in the Hispanic community.

“We are working to build bridges among the Hispanic community,” he said. “It is a different culture. Some of these people don’t even have Spanish as their first language. They speak their own language, the indigenous people, especially from Guatemala.

“We also seek to develop trust, because many of these people are afraid. They always work, but they don’t have time for fellowship. We provide that here.”

The Hispanic ministries began in Demopolis in February 2009. Zamora also has ministries set up at churches in Butler, Thomasville and Jackson.

On Saturdays from 5 to 7 p.m., Zamora is joined by district lay leader Virgil Henson to teach English. A new development is the beginning of Spanish church services on Saturday nights at 7 p.m. Zamora plays the organ and uses a projector to help him with these services.

“There are about 50 people who have come to take English classes,” he said. “Sometimes, people find jobs in other places and they leave here, so our number changes. We plan to work with the families who are established here. We are working with them.”

Building trust and working within the community can help immigrants work towards citizenship and being active parts in the community as a whole. The First United Methodist Church of Demopolis is providing ways to help that happen by helping them learn English and providing a church home while they are here.