Spanish language congregations hold assembly in Reedley
From as far as Portland, Ore., and Los Angeles, Calif., members of Hispanic Pacific District Conference congregations assembled May 23 at Reedley (Calif.) MB Church for Convencion Anual Hispana, two days of worship, instruction and fellowship.
Juan Wall, pastor of Iglesia Fuente de Vida in nearby Parlier, opened the conference with prayer. Founded in 1956, the Parlier congregation is the oldest PDC Hispanic church. Wall, like many other Hispanic church pastors, is bi-vocational. He is employed full time as a counselor at a county juvenile detention center and preaches a bilingual message on Sunday mornings.
Ray O’Neil, one of the host congregation's pastors, welcomed the assembly to Reedley. His remarks were followed by comments from Dora Resendez, who reminded everyone that RMBC is the church that helped plant the first Hispanic congregations.
Samuel Resendez, pastor of Iglesia La Roca in Sanger, Calif., preached the first message—a call to service from the book of Mark. The message followed a spirit-filled time of worship and praise led by musicians from local churches.
Saturday’s schedule included preaching, presentations and workshops as well as worship. Offerings were taken to offset convention expenses. Pastor Sabino Franco of Torre Fuerte in Modesto, Calif., preached a powerful message in word and song on equipping oneself for service.
The five workshops included a presentation from Mark Baker, of MB Biblical Seminary in Fresno, Calif., on the distinctions of Anabaptist doctrines. Miriam Cardenas, of El Faro Community Church in Reedley and representing Mennonite Central Committee, gave a workshop on immigration services. Her presentation highlighted the currently bleak outlook for immigrants wishing to obtain legal status.
A workshop by Ramon Arguello, pastor of Primera Iglesia Hispana Ebenezer, Portland, Ore., focused on helping parents to discipline children according to Scriptural principles. Pablo Gradin, also of Portland’s Ebenezer Church, spoke on the topic of stewardship. Oscar Lune II, Hispanic Council youth leader, made use of the sunshine and nice temperature to meet with about 60 young people on the church lawn.
Between 300 and 400 men, women and children gathered in the fellowship hall at noon to make and renew friendships over a catered meal of chile verde, rice and beans.
A group from Modesto’s Torre Fuerte provided musical praise for the afternoon session. A highlight of this session was recognizing approximately 40 students. Elizabeth Tiezen, director of the Leadership Development Program and a missionary who served in Colombia for 41 years, presented students with certificates for specific courses in a variety of disciplines. The students had completed courses under the auspices of the Pacific District Conference, Fresno Pacific University and Facultad Latino America Educacion Teologia (FLET).
The local Mennonite Central Committee store had items on display and Don Enns, representing Choice Books, had a display of Christian books in both English and Spanish. Pastors were given books for their church.
Rafael Paz Ramirez, pastor of Iglesia Senda Antigua in Pacoima, Calif., gave the closing message. The Pacoima congregation has been instrumental in planting six churches, including one in Lancaster, Calif., which was dedicated May 11. Paz encouraged his listeners to serve in evangelism, in church planting and in their local congregations.
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