Recently La Trinidad United Methodist Church in Allentown, PA. has been engaged in a missional strategy involving home bible studies. Under the leadership of Rev. Angel Lopez, several homes have become a mission outpost engaging people in worship, study, fellowship and service.
It all started with an answer to prayer; actually a healing prayer. Brother Felix slipped into a coma during a serious illness. After learning about this incident, La Trinidad started a prayer chain which lasted several weeks. Praise God, the man was healed! And because of his deep sense of gratitude to God and to this congregation, not only did he open his home for a bible study, but committed himself to coordinate weekly home bible studies among the other members of his huge family of at least 70 relatives. Brother Felix has coordinated weekly home services among 20 families. Pastor Angel prepares and leads the bible study, but in his own words, “I don’t have to worry about finding a new home each week; this brother tells where and what family”.
The home bible studies are based on Rick Warren’s book, A Purpose Driven Life. Pastor Lopez and his wife, Madeline, are presently leading three faith communities. Three other trained Lay Missioners are learning along side them, and observing until the next chance to be in front of a faith community.
Worship is at 100 in attendance. Friday Bible school involves at least 50 people, all ages represented. This approach to Sunday School came about because of the limited time on Sundays. This has allowed them to not only recruit more people but also to offer a better quality of teaching.
Nevertheless, the greatest challenge that La Trinidad is facing is common to many congregations of all backgrounds these days: finances. Although they have tried to improve their financial situation, it is still before them. People have begun tithing more; and they are making greater efforts at meeting their apportionment obligations.
A series of church council meetings has addressed this matter, and people are slowly but surely beginning to respond. However, much more needs to be done. My office and the Latino Commission is planning to hold a stewardship institute, under the name “Institute on Mission and Stewardship” planned for the fall. An initial conversation has occurred, with Jack Brooks, and resources that appeal to Latino church culture are being identified.
Please pray for La Trinidad and its pastor, but not only pray, consider La Trinidad as your mission project. There are just too many families of Latino origins that need to know the love of Christ and to be a part of a live and loving fellowship as La Trinidad.
by Irving Cotto
Irving Cotto is the Director of Congregational Development for the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference.