Children participate in a folkloric music and dance group at a recent Family Night at Casa del Pueblo.
Casa del Pueblo (The People’s house) is a new church start and the Latino outreach of Lehman Memorial United Methodist Church in Hatboro, Pennsylvania. Since its inception this ministry has celebrated the richness and diversity of Latino culture.
On July 1, 2008 Casa del Pueblo first began through home bible studies, or “faith communities,” held at the home of Pastor Luky Cotto. During the past three years, Casa del Pueblo has developed five faith communities. These gatherings have remained as the foundation of Casa del Pueblo’s ministry and outreach. Given the fact that many attendees cannot participate in the Sunday service, mostly due to lack of transportation and work schedules, people find in these faith communities a place for worship, fellowship, and discipleship.
Currently, the Sunday Worship Service is at 6:00 p.m. every Sunday at Lehman, UMC. Casa del Pueblo also offers ESL classes for its members and the public. A tutoring program was introduced alongside the ESL classes to cater to parents who bring their children with them. Monday through Thursday, these families can improve their English and continue their academic studies all together. As the week winds down, Casa del Pueblo invites its members each Thursday morning to congregate in prayer at Lehman UMC.
Social Justice plays an important part in the life of this developing congregation and its leader. Before answering the call to serve at Lehman Memorial Pastor Luky Cotto had a record of faithful service by responding to the needs of Latino community in the city of Camden. There she was the founder of EIRENE Immigration Center at Asbury UMC in Camden, NJ. Her passion concerning the pressing issue of immigration has now extended into Casa del Pueblo where she often refers families in the community to EIRENE services.
Recently, among the people actively involved in this new church there have been serious discussions about the need to provide for more formal immigration services, and information on agencies that provide services to the Latino Community. Currently, these services or community resources do no exist in the communities surrounding Hatboro, Warminster or Warrington areas.
A more recent outreach project of Casa del Pueblo is Family Night. Members from the community are invited to joining Casa del Pueblo at Lehman UMC for an evening of fun with games, food, musical performances, and fellowship. Several local businesses have joined families to contribute special gifts, services, and partake in the festivities. Family Night is now celebrated once a month.
Right before the Sunday evening service, bible classes are given for all ages at 5 pm. These classes have grown to as many as 15 children and 21 adults in each class. Evening hours work well for families to attend class and worship together.
Casa del Pueblo has been celebrating different cultural events: The Independence of Central America and Mexico, Hispanic Heritage, Posadas and Parrandas (Latino versions of “Christmas caroling”). Every program is an outreach event. For three years the children of Casa del Pueblo have been participating of the Vacation Bible School with Lehman church, involving more than 10 mothers who have served as volunteers as well as 9 youth. Also, the congregation has been able to celebrate a Posada on Christmas Eve and thus, continuing to celebrate our diversity.
During the months of June and July a children’s program has been running with the participation of more than 40 children and 11 mothers as volunteers. In the midst of all of this, 12 worshippers at Casa del Pueblo have joined Lehman Memorial United Methodist Church.
Ever since Pastor Luky started this ministry she took part in the Jesus Fair that different churches from the community engage in every year. This is an outreach event where the gospel is shared by providing food, groceries, clothing, and above all friendship. This year Casa del Pueblo was co-leading the group and it was an exciting time for the ministry. The ladies from Casa del Pueblo cooked for more than 150 people who gathered to hear the message and the music and receive information from the different ministries.
Another of its ministries is a guitar lessons class. Once a week six students gather to learn how to play both religious and cultural songs. This will certainly help with our worship service as well as with any community event Casa del Pueblo develops.
This year 20 children and youth participated of summer camps. Some went to Gretna Glen for the Semana Latina (Latino Week), and the youngest ones participated in Carson Simpson’s Day camp for a week.
Six youth have been participating in F.O.H.S. (Full of the Holy Spirit), a Latino Youth gathering that meets every three months in different churches around the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference. F.O.H.S. was born out of the Semana Latina at Gretna Glen Camp.
While Pastor Luky was teaching about sharing one’s gifts and skills and the importance of sharing them, one of the ladies asked: “Pastor, how can I share my gifts, if what I like to do is dance and music? How can I give my talents to the Lord?” Pastor Luky replied that since she was already in the praise group and learning to play the guitar, and that she might “start a children’s folklore dance, so that we do not have to pay anybody to come and perform for us; we will have our own.” She did, and now 10 children participate: 9 girls and 1 boy. Several parents assist with rehearsals.
Besides giving our talents to the Lord, Casa del Pueblo has also started to send to our Conference 10% of the tithes and offerings every month. This is exciting and a good way to be connected with our conference and denomination.
Pastor Luky encourages everyone to come and visit Casa del Pueblo. When you are looking for a mission project to support either individually or as part of the missions your congregation, please prayerfully consider supporting Casa del Pueblo as a mission partner.
For more information on Casa del Pueblo, contact Pastor Luky Cotto at email@example.com.