A growing Hispanic ministry is the result of an unusual space-sharing arrangement at OKC-Ridgecrest United Methodist Church.
Ridgecrest has opened its doors to a congregation that had been meeting in a home. The worshippers are mostly Guatemalan, and the group is affiliated with a Pentecostal denomination.
The pairing came about because United Methodists understand "we are all part of one Body," Pastor Jim Hill said recently.
This marks the third time Ridgecrest has offered its building to other faith groups, commented member Myrtle Clingenpeel.
In the Ridgecrest newsletter, Rev. Hill has written about the agreement. Portions are excerpted below.
He wrote, "Paul was able to evangelize the gentiles in a way that the church in Jerusalem never could. In the same way, we (Ridgecrest) are surrounded by those we can’t reach—who are not from our country and do not speak our language. Without some major miracle, we would never be able to reach our Hispanic brothers and sisters.
"Such a miracle happened. I was contacted by a church that was looking for a home." He met with Ridgecrest trustees and with the Hispanic deacons.
"We walked around the church, and they loved what they saw. They saw a church waiting to be filled up, a building that would allow them to grow their little group and to help build the Kingdom of God in our city.
"They asked if they could come back. This time, it wasn’t just the deacons; it was the entire church."
Ridgecrest asked for a monthly $300 donation to offset utility expenses. The Hispanic Christians rejected that and, instead, committed to give $400.
Led by a volunteer pastor, the original group of 50 has swelled in number. In January, a three-night event reaching into the Hispanic community attracted 400 people, Clingenpeel reported.
On Sunday mornings at Ridgecrest, the United Methodists meet in worship and Sunday school, and a small Hispanic group meets for Bible study. Their regular worship services take place on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, Clingenpeel explained.
Hill said representatives from the new group attend Ridgecrest trustee meetings.
"Because of the language barrier, all communication has to go through a few of their younger members, who speak English fairly well. We have to be patient and intentional about communication," Hill wrote.
He also described plans for both congregations to jointly host an outdoor community picnic in the spring. Fliers promoting the event will be created in both English and Spanish, he said.
"My thanks for the willingness of the Ridgecrest family to open our doors to other congregations in need. Our space-sharing has been smooth and coordinated. Their church has the ability to reach out to those around us that we can’t reach. Thanks be to God!"