Palabra Viviente Iglesia Metodista Unida celebrated the dedication of its new church facility, Centro Palabra Viviente, on Sunday, July 30, 2023, during its morning worship service. The celebration followed several days of hosting the Encuentro event organized by the Greater Northwest Area’s Hispanic/Latinx Ministries Committee, its director Rev. Cruz Edwin Santos, with support from Pacific Northwest Conference staff.
The Encuentro event brought together nearly 50 Hispanic/Latinx leaders from across the GNW Area and their families. The theme for the event was “How to be a reconciling community.” In a reflection on the weekend, Rev. Santos shared that it was a rich opportunity for renewal, refocus and reconciliation. While the theme challenged those who gathered, at times stretching their comfort zones, Santos wrote that “at the same time, the experience created a space to discuss how to create and develop Hispanic/Latinx churches and ministries that are more inclusive.”
Greater Northwest Area Bishop Cedrick Bridgeforth joined participants of that event and those gathered for the celebration on Sunday morning to dedicate the church building. The bishop based his message on St. Paul’sdepiction of the church as a body, emphasizing that we need each other, differences and all, to do God’s work.
The service was a beautiful ceremony filled with joy, hope, and gratitude. The dedication was a testament to the hard work and commitment of everyone involved in making the project a reality. As an expression of their gratitude, the congregation gifted the bishop with a shepherd’s staff as the dedication service concluded.
The dedication of the church building was a momentous occasion for Palabra Viviente and its pastor, Jose Pacheco. The new facility will enable the ministry to better serve the Hispanic/Latino community in Everett, Washington. The building, formerly an emissions testing facility, underwent significant updates, adding modern amenities and redesigning the space to make it easier for the ministry to meet the needs of its members.
“The space is fresh and new. It communicates that we value ministry among first-generation Latinx community,” says Kristina Gonzalez, Executive Director for Innovation and Vitality of GNW Area. “Birthed from the vision of Bishop Elias Galvan and with funding from the General Board of Global Ministries and the PNW Conference, Centro Palabra Viviente has persisted through displacement, COVID and construction. Praise God for the gracious leadership of Pastor Jose Pacheco and the laypeople who have supported this work.”
The Palabra Viviente congregation did not choose to leave its former church home. But when that building sold, they responded with faith and determination to continue their mission and to make this new ministry center a reality.
Rev. Pat Simpson, chair of the PNW Board of Trustees, which oversaw the property transition, attended the dedication. She is praying that the “Spirit that accompanied them on that road be poured out again to bless their worship and their work in this new place.”
Puget Sound District Superintendent Rev. Mark Galang was also at the dedication, helping lead the worship service. As chief missional strategist for the district, Galang shared that Everett is the seventh largest city in Washington, with 38% of its population being people of color and with more than 40% of them being Hispanic/Latinx.
“Not so long ago, we had several United Methodist congregations serving the different neighborhoods of Everett; Palabra Viviente UMC is the only one remaining,” said Galang who understands our strategy must shift. “We can’t just pack up our bags and leave. I believe we still have much to offer as a church to the good people of this city.” He expects that the new facility can become a missional hub/center that supports existing ministries, particularly with the growing immigrant communities in the area. Galang also hopes the space can be a birthing place for new expressions of ministry so more people can experience God and God’s love in new ways.
According to Pastor Pacheco, Palabra Viviente UMC has ambitious plans to expand its ministry and service beyond its walls and more intentionally with its neighbors.
“This year, we are planning to host the VITA Services (2024) program to offer free tax preparation assistance to the community.” In August, the church will also distribute 1,000 backpacks to returning-to-school kids as part of a “Back to School Bash “outreach event.
Pacheco shared that they also are welcoming new volunteers from outside the church membership to help them develop their programs and eagerly partner with other organizations to bless our community.
“I want to express my sincere thanks for the unconditional support we have received. Thank you for believing in me and for your commitment to work together on this journey to expand the Kingdom of God.”