STEELE CREEK — Es un dia nuevo at Good Shepherd UMC in Steele Creek.
On Dec. 2, the church launched its fourth worship service at 11:30 a.m., on the corner campus across Moss Road from the larger church. It wasn’t just the former video store location that makes the new service different. It’s also delivered in Spanish.
“Our core team has been building for about a year now, and we expect 150 to 200 people to show up to have church in their ‘heart language,’” said Talbot Davis, pastor at Good Shepherd.
A Spanish ministry has been on the hearts of Good Shepherd members for about a decade. A Columbian named Pedro Alba helped begin a Spanish language Bible study in 2002. He was 88. Now 99, he still attends every Sunday.
Ted Munoz, father-in-law of Davis, is bilingual and was the sole translator for the first 18 months of a Spanish via headphone service. Sammy Gonzalez moved from Connecticut in 2009 to attend Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Now, he’s pastoring the new Spanish service.
“It does into our mission, inviting all people,” Gonzalez said. “That’s what we’re all about.”
The first Sunday count was 141 attendees. Largely a word-of-mouth effort, leaders will continue to draw in more people for a demographic they say is out there and needs to be served. Among the 40 core folks who started the effort, there are about 10 different countries represented.
“It’s a mistake to say all Latinos are the same,” Gonzalez said. “We’re a multicultural group.”
The Spanish service ministry is another part of the church’s overall goal to impact as many people as possible. Last year the church partnered with Stop Hunger Now for a fall food packing event to prepare more than 200,000 meals that went to Uganda. In January there’ll be another “radical impact project,” this time to buy a home for victims of the sex trafficking industry.
“This is similar to what we did at Christmas of 2010 where we raised and gave $207,000 to the International Justice Mission,” said Talbot Davis, pastor at Good Shepherd. “This time, our efforts are much closer to home.”
On Jan. 27, the entire church offering - the goal is at least $125,000 - will be given away to purchase a home that will “house, counsel and restore” young victims. The home will be in Gaston County. The event coincides with a January series titled “Home” that Davis is planning “as a way of building our own homes from the inside out while challenging people to give and give well to buy a home for girls who’ve had so much robbed from them.”
“Our goal for that one Sunday is to received $125,000 in the offering, which will be enough to purchase and rehab the home that’s been selected,” Davis said.
As for the next big project, ideas abound. Gonzalez said his new venture comes from a pastor in Davis with a “genuine heart for the Latino community,” who will himself lead a Spanish language service soon. And, who knows? Given the right combination of divine leadership and audience, the church could find itself speaking a multi-lingual Gospel beyond just Spanish.
“We may not stop here,” Gonzalez said.