Spring break came a little early for nine Hispanic pastors and their families.
During the weekend of March 4-6, the Hispanic pastors of the South Georgia Conference were invited to Epworth By The Sea on St. Simons Island to enjoy a weekend retreat designed to let them relax, be renewed, and return to their ministries refreshed.
“The plan was for the Hispanic pastors and their families to come and enjoy a retreat and not worry about anything,” said Columbus District Superintendent Rev. Shane Green. “We wanted this to be a time where they could be encouraged and their ministries could celebrated.”
The weekend’s schedule was largely unstructured, giving the pastors and their families time to socialize and fellowship. Activities included a low country boil, a shrimp boat tour, a tour of St. Simons Island and worship at Wesley at Frederica United Methodist Church.
“It provided a time we needed,” said Rev. Daniel Medina, pastor of the Glynn County United Methodist Hispanic Ministry. “Sometimes in Hispanic ministry you don’t have the time or the opportunity to be in that kind of setting with your own family and the families of your colleagues. It’s very difficult to find another pastor to fill in because of the language, so it’s very hard to find time to get together as families, so we’re very grateful for this weekend.”
The tight-knit family connection the pastors and their families share was very evident to Rev. Green, and was an inspiration.
“One of the neat experiences for me was to watch how all of the Hispanic families really, really love each other. You could really see it,” he said. “I wish that we, as a conference, as a whole, would embrace this. It was modeled in a way by our Hispanic pastors’ families, that, to me, looked more and more like what the Kingdom should be. They model something that all of us should strive for.”
Hispanic ministries are of vital importance to the heath of The United Methodist Church and the South Georgia Conference, Rev. Green said. The weekend was an opportunity for the Conference to show its appreciation to the Hispanic pastors and their families and to encourage them in their ministries.
“Hispanics in South Georgia are on the rise,” he said. “If you’re looking at growth potential for South Georgia United Methodism, Hispanics are having the largest increase now, and so for us to stay ahead of the curve we need to grow Hispanic ministries. To not pay attention to Hispanics or to just be content with the current level of Hispanic ministry is really, I think, losing an opportunity now and over the next five to 10 years.”
Rev. Medina was grateful for the much-needed weekend getaway and for the opportunity to fellowship with friends and family.
“We were blessed to have this,” he said. “It was very needed because it provided a time and a wonderful place for us to share time with our families. It provided a good time for us to be together and just relax.
“We were treated in a very special way. It was something very special. We were inspired; we are very grateful. We just wanted to enjoy each other and our families and connect and relax. Most of us pastors have been together for eight, 10 years, so we know each other very well, and our children have grown up together, and it’s very special to have the opportunity to see them again. We really enjoyed it.”
Special thanks to Rev. Shane Green, Rev. Marcia Cochran and the Waycross District, Rev. John Stephens, Wesley at Frederica United Methodist Church, Ann Willis and Epworth By The Sea for helping put this retreat together.