Columbia’s Hispanic population is growing, and so are opportunities for worship in Spanish.
The majority of Columbia Hispanics are still Catholic, but a Pentecostal congregation and the the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are among those reaching out by ministering in Spanish.
For many, worshiping in Spanish isn’t because of a lack of understanding English. According to 2010 Census data, slightly more than two percent of Boone County residents speak Spanish at home, and of that small percentage, more than 80 percent speak English well. Instead, such worship is a way to connect with the Spanish-speaking community.
“People come here from all kinds of countries – Honduras, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico,” Iglesia Hispana Pentecostal Getsemani Pastor Sergio Martinez said. “It’s so important for us to share the word of God, the light of God with them, especially in their language.”
Kirsten Pinto, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, knows how important ministering in someone’s native language can be. She was the outsider when she lived Mexico and California, working with primarily Spanish-speaking groups in both places.
“You feel out of place and people look at you funny,” Pinto said. “That empathy I feel for people who I are new here is much greater having had that experience there.”
She now meets with other Hispanic Mormons in Columbia to talk to them about faith in their native tongue.
“The church has really grasped that vision of reaching out to the individual and ministering to their needs,” Pinto said.
In this week's faith and values update, we hear from people who worship in Spanish in congregations across Columbia.
This story was produced in partnership with Columbia Faith and Values. Hear weekly faith and values updates on KBIA on Saturday mornings around 8:30.