Hispanic ministry marks 25 years

March 8, 2019

David Byrne wants to bring people together. It’s a practice, in fact, he’s been doing for 25 years in Friendswood with his involvement in Coalition of Hispanic Ministries.

Byrne, 61, had been working in a ministry in Mexico for about eight years, when in 1994, he and his wife Joyce began examining ministries “that we felt furthered the things we felt strongly about — bridging the gap between Hispanic and Anglo churches,” he said.

The couple learned that Friendswood Friends Church had a similar vision.

“In the early ’90s, there was huge growth in the Hispanic population in the Houston area,” David Byrne said. “So, we felt that this would be a good place to call home. We founded CHM and started thinking of ways to bring our churches together.”

The organization strives to promote ministry, provide outreach and coordinate ministries to the local Hispanic community. Support comes from Friends churches, associations and individuals as well as from churches from other denominations.

“It can be hard bringing these two communities together; so we want to provide as many ministry resources as we can,” Byrne said. “We provide educational materials, classes and guidance to Hispanic churches. We help in church plantings. If we find out that a church needs something done, we say, ‘Well, let’s have at it.’ At the end of the day, what’s most important to us is bringing these two groups together. It’s all about bridging that gap.”

Support is a large component of what CHM does, Byrne said.

“If a Hispanic church is just getting started and we’re their Anglo partners in ministry, we’ll walk beside them until they develop their own infrastructure, their own ministry,” he said. “It’s also important to us that we teach the Anglo churches that the Hispanic community has unique needs that need to be met. We try to teach them what those needs are and how to meet them. Anglo churches want to reach into their communities and cross cultural boundaries, but they have to really understand the churches they’re trying to reach. They have to understand those needs.”

In the 25 years the ministry has existed, evolution was a natural pathway for the organization. Classes developed for new church ministers were originally done on recorded VHS tapes, then DVDs. Now those classes are available through online streaming. The group has also started their own program to teach leadership to prospective Spanish-speaking ministers.

“There aren’t very many seminary-level programs for Spanish-speaking leaders in our community,” he said, “so we developed the Instituto ALMA: Alcanzando al Mundo Alrededor. With this, Spanish-speaking church leaders go through Bible seminars and leadership training so that they have the tools they need to lead their own churches.”

So what’s next for the organization? Byrne said to continue bridging gaps.

“It would be such a blessing to continue this mission,” he said. “To keep bringing our communities together. That’s what it’s all about.”