New Ministry Is Planting Seeds In Growing Latinx Community
The Seed/La Semilla growing new disciples in Pleasant Grove neighborhood
In a newly renovated classroom at Pleasant Mound UMC and in the surrounding neighborhood on the eastern edge of Dallas, The Seed/La Semilla is taking root. The Seed is a new expansion of ministry with, by and for the Hispanic and Latinx community in Pleasant Grove. Led by Ruben Alvarez, The Seed is a ministry of Christ’s Foundry United Methodist Mission.
“We decided on the name, The Seed, because that is what we are doing," Alvarez said. "We are sharing the seeds. Sometimes the land is dry, sometimes it’s muddy, sometimes it’s not the perfect space to put a seed. But we share it. And God is doing the other part. We’re excited to see what God is doing.”
Christ's Foundry and the Center for Church Development had been talking about planting a new church since the end of 2019, but had to pause because of COVID. After Pleasant Mound UMC agreed to allow The Seed to use some underutilized space at the church in the summer of 2021, Alvarez began to make plans for how to meet the community and what programs they would hope to carry out there.
The Seed started in the fall with the launch of a bible study and music lessons for kids and adults, as well as special community events like movie nights and the FestiKids evangelistic program for kids and young families that Alvarez and his wife designed together. There are around 70 families engaged in the different ministries thus far.
“Pleasant Grove is growing, mostly with Hispanic families,” Alvarez said. “I’m listening to the people. Most of them want to share, they want to be heard, they want someone that cares for them."
The area has struggled with violence, drugs and gangs.
“One of the things that is in my heart is this is a community that needs Jesus, that needs love, that needs something we can share with them to build strong families,” said Alvarez, who has met families that shared stories of violence within the family as they cope with the pressures of daily life.
Unlike other communities surrounding it, Pleasant Grove does not have many community events or the supportive infrastructure that is necessary for flourishing family life. Director of the Center for Church Development, Rev. Owen Ross, points out the need for increased engagement with the Hispanic/Latinx community in this under resourced area.
“The Pleasant Grove area is roughly 75% Hispanic/Latinx. The North Texas Conference has two churches in the Pleasant Grove area — Pleasant Mound UMC and Umphress Road UMC — I pray that The Seed can partner with both congregations to increase the impact our conference has in this mission field,” Ross said. “The partnership with Christ's Foundry, the largest Spanish-language church in the UMC, will allow us to draw upon their expertise and resources.”
Rev. Amy Spaur, pastor of Christ’s Foundry, echoed this desire to take the lead in planting a new ministry in an area of need.
“The Latinx community is underrepresented in the North Texas Conference. With our cultural and linguistic assets as well as our ministry experience with the Latinx community, Christ's Foundry felt called to participate with the conference and the wider connection in planting a new faith community to reach Latinx neighbors,” Spaur said.
Nearly 70% of households in the Pleasant Grove area speak Spanish in the home and yet there was no Spanish-speaking UMC presence in the community before The Seed.
Alvarez is the ideal person to lead The Seed. As someone who lives in the area, he is positioned to build relationships by living where he is planting. Having served at First UMC Lewisville, Casa Linda UMC, and currently with Christ’s Foundry, Alvarez has learned from each of those churches while also being shaped by the Center for Church Development’s Latinx Lay Fellowship and the Genesis church planting cohort.
“Ruben has the passion, gifts and work ethic required for the grueling yet rewarding work of church planting,” Ross said.
If you would like to support The Seed they ask for your prayers for the planters and the people. They are also looking for volunteers who want to use their gifts and talents to reach this community, email Ruben Alvarez if interested.
Learn more here or make a contribution through Christ's Foundry's website (designate the donation as The Seed). Donors may also send a check with The Seed in the memo to Christ's Foundry UMM, PO Box 29126, Dallas, TX 75229.
Published: Wednesday, December 8, 2021