New Episcopal Hispanic congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta held their first services the last weekend of April.
The gatherings were “a dream come true,” said Diocese of Atlanta Missioner for Hispanic Ministries The Rev. Irma Nohemi Guerra.
The first Spanish language service at St. Augustine’s Episcopal Church in Morrow, Georgia drew fifteen worshipers, Guerra said.
“First, we gathered before the service and started sharing stories, there were like fifteen people at our first service, then we invited them for a cup of coffee after service and it was so wonderful” she said.
“We will offer Spanish services the second and fourth Saturdays of the month at 11am. It is a dream come true!”
On Sunday, April 30 the first Spanish language service was held at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Macon, Georgia.
“The first thing I saw was a sign ‘San Pablo Episcopal Church’ right at the parking lot, then a sign saying ‘Misa en Español aquí,'” Guerra said. “That’s so great to see our language, that’s the beginning of something big.”
“At St. Paul’s, we gathered outside the chapel and started singing and chatting, the bell sounded, and we processed (inside) with happiness,” Guerra said.
The first service drew a dozen worshipers, she said. “People were so interested in our Episcopal Church, and they wanted to know more, they really like it. What a wonderful blessing!”
Spanish language services at St. Paul’s will be held at 1 p.m. every third Sunday.
The two new congregations bring the number of diocesan Hispanic worshiping communities to thirteen. Others are San David, Roswell; Iglesia de Cristo, Norcross; San Judas, Marietta; San Beda, Atlanta; El Buen Pastor, Austell; Emmanuel, Athens; Catedral San Felipe, Atlanta; Holy Innocents’ Atlanta; San Pedro, Rome; Santa Maria, East Point; and San Eduardo, Lawrenceville.
For Guerra, who was appointed by Bishop Rob Wright as Hispanic Missioner in 2022, the increase in communities comes down to God putting her in the right places at the right time.
“I know that God places you at the right places in His/Her time, why? Because you can feel God’s presence and know immediately that this is God’s desire and we are the instruments that bring the Good News,” Guerra said.
“People at St. Augustine and St. Paul are working by heart, they are a wonderful blessing to our Hispanic families, they are not only opening their doors but their arms and hearts to help and serve those in need,” she said. “What a wonderful God we have, a God that brings all together as one.”
Guerra said she will be visiting each of the diocese’s Hispanic congregations to provide support and that other worshipping communities will be added based on the opportunities she discovers.
In addition to Hispanic worshiping communities, Guerra said the diocese offers Centro de Educación Teológica para Latinos (CETLA), the Theological Education Center for Latinos. CETLA is for people from Hispanic worshiping communities in the Diocese of Atlanta who want to deepen their faith as well as engage in ministry in the Episcopal Church. Instruction supports lay readers, eucharistic ministers, vestry members, and ushers. It also serves as a foundation for future Hispanic deacons and priests. The next session of CETLA will begin this fall, she said.
Learn more about Hispanic Ministries in the Diocese of Atlanta.