By the Rev. Elizabeth Murray
I have a song dedication for the South Carolina Annual Conference, and it is ABBA’s “Take a Chance on Me.” Though the 1970s Swedish pop group likely wrote the song about two distant lovers, I imagine myself singing it to the Annual Conference in respect to Hispanic/Latino ministry.
Over the past year and a half, I have been working with the Hispanic/Latino Task Force to rebuild momentum, both in specific local churches and in the broader context of the Annual Conference. It’s harder than one might think to prepare congregations for Hispanic/Latino ministry and to reach out to our Hispanic/Latino neighbors.
Though the task can seem overwhelming at times, we carry on because of our call to be a church in which all tribes, tongues and nations gather to worship the Lamb of God (Revelation 7). In order to be the church that God called us to be, we must actively include all people.
“If you need me, let me know, gonna be around. Gonna do my very best and it ain’t no lie. If you put me to the test, if you let me try,” ABBA sings. The Hispanic/Latino Task Force is here to be a resource to you. In whatever ways we can be of help, we will give it all we’ve got.
The pushback we’ve received is that Hispanic/Latino ministry is too hard, that South Carolina is not “ready” for Hispanic/Latino ministry and that we have already tried, so why do we need to keep trying? I’m here to tell you that the Hispanic/Latino Task Force is here in full force, ready to do the work of God’s Kingdom. Take a risk for God, and take a chance on us.
We know Hispanic/Latino ministry will be a slow process that may not produce immediate, easy results. We are here to walk with you. The task force seeks to meet people where they are, even if this simply means educating churches about our Hispanic/Latino neighbors. At the same time, we are realistic about potential obstacles, such as language barriers, the politics of immigration, financial support and differing styles of worship. The task force is committed to walking alongside you as we learn together how to better love our neighbors.
“You can take your time, baby, I’m in no hurry. You say that I waste my time, but I can’t get you off my mind. No, I can’t let go ‘cause I love you so,” ABBA sings. As a deacon called to Hispanic/Latino ministry, I am here for the long haul, committed to the South Carolina Annual Conference and to Hispanic/Latino ministry. Despite that our task is not an easy one, we—the South Carolina Task Force on Hispanic/Latino Ministry—believe our work is an essential investment of the conference’s time and resources because it is our call as Christians to welcome all into God’s Kingdom. So take a chance on us.
Come on, really—take a chance on us. We invite you to join us in Kingdom-building and in ministry. We are here to be a resource for you as your neighborhoods start to change and as you feel the Spirit calling your church to love and embrace its neighbors.
If you need us, let us know, gonna be around. Take a chance on us.
By the Rev. Elizabeth Murray