First United Methodist Church in North Liberty offers an English class for speakers of Spanish with the help of a Matthew 25 grant from the East Central District. The ministry was developed when a family resource worker at a local elementary school expressed concern about the isolation Hispanic adults were experiencing. Many of the class participants are recent immigrants whose children have many opportunities to develop their skills in English. Parents however often have limited exposure to the language, especially the mothers who are not employed.
The goals for the project are to help adults learn English, to provide a place for participants to socialize with each other and church volunteers, and to assist children in developing their literacy readiness. This reflects the congregation’s vision for its ministry, which says in part, “We must first listen to those around us including those who are commonly unheard. God can be known to others through the actions of God’s people. . . . For even Jesus did not come to be served but to serve.”
North Liberty is located in a rapidly growing part of the state. Nearly 500 residents are of Hispanic descent. The church has recently expanded their outreach to Latinos by offering a bilingual worship service. Their Matthew 25 grant was made possible from the apportionment gifts of local United Methodist churches throughout the state of Iowa.