“Up to now, we have been leasing a space for $1700 per month,” said Doimeadios, who has led the district’s UMC Hispanic Ministry since 2011. “Now this is our new home, a place of new beginnings.”
For the past six years, the ministry has served more than 700 Hispanic members in various temporary locations across Northwest Florida. A couple of months ago, Doimeadios informed the District Board that the owner of its current space was selling the building and that the congregation had until July 1 to find a new facility. With the property on Pace Boulevard on the market, the board saw a way to fulfill its mission of developing new churches and helping existing churches with emergency needs.
“They had been taking the church to the people,” District Board President Duane Keck said. “They were going to Fort Walton Beach and to Mary Esther and they were growing.” After learning more about Doimeadios’ efforts, the board decided to move forward in faith, purchasing the Pace Boulevard property for $140,000. “This was a God thing,” said Keck, a member of Trinity UMC in Fort Walton Beach. “We prayed about it, and we just knew that God was saying this was a good thing—and it’s good for that community.”
At the ceremony, Keck and board members Al Bruner and Owen Sharp presented Doimeadios with a deed to the new property as well as keys to all the buildings and $10,000 for remodeling and ministry expenses. “It was a wonderful day in the Pensacola District!” Pensacola District Superintendent Tim Trent said. “As soon as Andres and his people can get the remodeling done, we will have an open house for everyone to see.”
Transforming the world
For Doimeadios, who was presented with the 2017 Denman Evangelism Award at Annual Conference, the building is far more than brick and mortar. “God is at work around us,” he said. “He allowed for this donation to take place so we could have a permanent home to study the word and spread the gospel and to serve the communities around us—not only our Hispanic brethren.”
Casa de Dios itself—a congregation of more than 120 people from a variety countries including America, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Guatemala and Cuba—is proof of God’s presence. In 2016, Doimeadios and his ministry have led more than 90 people to Christ.
In addition to refurbishing one of the buildings as a sanctuary, he plans to use the property to offer discipleship and leadership ministries for children, youth and adults. Doimeadios also envisions providing English as a Second Language and GED classes and nutrition classes as well as an immigration legal clinic. “We will also have a temporary, safe place for people in need,” he said. “We are reaching out to make new disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!”
"This is a significant new offering in our conference," said Rev. Nancy Watson, Director of Connectional Ministries. "Our conference staff's primary goal is to serve our 600+ churches. This will enable churches to better find what they need in less time. I am thankful to the staff for recognizing the need and implementing the design and functionality of the page."
The page, which was launched in early July, will be frequently updated and managed by Susan Hunt, AWF Director of Mission and Advocacy. The goal was to identify the most frequently visited pages of the conference Website and organize them into one area. Conference staff will monitor what links receive the most hits to better know what people are looking for.
"We continue to evaluate what we do and how we do it so that our time and resources are most effectively used to better serve our churches, and thus, the Kingdom," Watson stated.
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As we prepare for the July 4th remembrance holiday, there is a great debate going on in our country around health care. It seems that we have been in a standoff around this issue for many years. In my opinion, the spiral began when mental health care was drastically cut years ago. We have paid the price for this in many ways.
Some have benefitted from the present plan while soaring costs and insurance companies dropping out of exchanges are causing a lot of present issues for others. The newly proposed health care plan seems to lessen benefits to the poor and the aging. Yet, to be honest with you, due to the complexity of the bill, it’s difficult to evaluate exactly what is being proposed. It is so complicated, I wonder if our congressional leaders understand either.
What I do know is that Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that we should provide health care to all people. Jesus is not so specific to use the phrase, "health care," but says when you provide needs to the least of these, you have given unto me. This is enough for me. Furthermore, as United Methodists, we believe and advocate health care for all people. The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is presently working on this behalf and our Social Principles proclaim this right.
Therefore, the people called United Methodists of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, will you join me in praying that we can get to a better place with health care for all people? Pray for our leaders who will vote on a health care bill sometime after the July 4th break. Pray that both Republicans and Democrats can work together to do what is right in providing affordable health care for all people.
It is time to get beyond a partisan health care bill; we need a health care bill for all people. Again, I ask you to join me in your prayers and circles of influence to this end. Take a moment in your worship services this weekend to pray for our country, our leaders, and the upcoming health care legislation. I am praying that the best is yet to come around health care for all people! Let us not look back with regret because we felt this was too hard. It is hard, but by faith, it can happen.
Bishop David Graves
Resident Bishop, Alabama-West Florida Conference