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Santos heads to Nashville for new position

Santos heads to Nashville for new position

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Santos heads to Nashville for new position

Jan. 4, 2006  News media contact: Tita Parham*  
800-282-8011   Orlando {0423}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

Rev. Edwin Santos

LAKELAND — The Rev. Edwin Santos ended 2005 by saying farewell as director of Florida Conference Hispanic Ministries and embracing new challenges as director of Hispanic/Latino Ministries at the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) in Nashville.

He began his work there Jan. 3.

Santos began working in the Florida Conference in 2004 and was an instrumental part of the recent growth of the conference's Hispanic ministries. The number of Hispanic missions and churches doubled during his time with the conference, increasing from 30 to 64.

His work also included implementing the Florida Conference Comprehensive Hispanic Plan and increasing the participation of Hispanics in conference activities, such as the annual Hispanic Family Camp, held each Labor Day weekend. The camp has grown from about 400 participants to more than 550, and organizers have had to turn away more than 100 people because of lack of space.

Santos said he is pleased with the conference's progress.

"Working as director of Hispanic Ministries in the Florida Conference was a great experience and opportunity that God gave to me," he said. "The team that I was relating with, led by the Rev. Dr. Anne Burkholder (director of Connectional Ministries), constantly gave me and my people the space to be heard. I think the experience in Florida will be a major factor in the contribution I am going to offer the national church."

Santos said the last several years have been an exciting time for Florida and conference. Florida's Hispanic/Latino population increased by more than 21 percent, becoming the state's largest minority and comprising more than 19 percent of the population, according to the 2004 U.S. Census Bureau.

"Many of the challenges I faced in leading Florida's Hispanic/Latino ministry will be magnified on the national stage," Santos said. "I feel the denomination needs to take these (census) numbers much more seriously. I hope to focus our attention on these needs and help The United Methodist Church move in a direction to address them. The different economic status of Hispanics means we need to find different ways of developing faith communities to reach them."

Discovering new ways of reaching the Hispanic/Latino population will be an important part of Santos' work.

"Connectionalism will be a primary focus of my work with GBOD," he said. "I plan to use the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry as the basis for creating a nationwide focus on developing existing and new ministries among the nation's largest minority population."

Santos said he will also focus on helping each conference in the denomination develop its own Comprehensive Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry, within the vision of the national plan, "to guide ministry with their particular population," as he did in the Florida Conference.

Burkholder said conference staff will be re-evaluating the position Santos is leaving and considering ways to align its responsibilities more directly with the conference's offices of New Church Development and Congregational Transformation.

Santos previously served as pastor and director of the multicultural center at First United Methodist Church, Kissimmee, as well as pastor of Centennial United Methodist Church in Rockford, Ill., where he developed Community Night Center and a multicultural center, and Los Angeles Methodist Church, Carolina, Puerto Rico.


This article relates to Hispanic Ministries.

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.