Two Episcopal dioceses, Kansas and West Missouri, and the Central States Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church are joining forces to offer services to the Hispanic community.
This effort was kicked off Saturday, Feb. 23, and Sunday, Feb. 24, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 1310 N. 18th St. Services in Spanish will continue at 1:30 p.m. Sundays at St. Paul’s. The Rev. Alberto Cutie, the priest-in-charge at the Church of the Resurrection in Biscayne Park, Fla., came to St. Paul’s to celebrate communion and be the guest preacher.
Cutie, 43, a native of Puerto Rico, left the Roman Catholic Church in 2009 and joined the Episcopal Church. He married Ruhama Buni Canellis. His parents were Cuban exiles. He said the celibacy rule was only one of the theological differences that caused him to leave the Roman Catholic Church.
Before leaving the Roman Catholic Church, Cutie was an internationally recognized priest who hosted radio and television shows. He is also a best-selling author. His latest book “Dilemma: a priest’s struggle with faith and love” tells of his journey between the church and his heart according to a promotional review on the Internet.
St. Paul’s was chosen as the site for the Spanish language services because of the very substantial Hispanic population in Kansas City, Kansas. Demographers have predicted that by the year 2020, a plurality of residents in Wyandotte County may be of Hispanic origin.
Those who look at church demographics, such as the Pew Research Center, have estimated that about 68 percent of those of Hispanic origin are Roman Catholics. Most others, about 15 percent, are members of more conservative, evangelic faiths. However an estimated 5 percent tend to be attracted to traditional mainline religions.
The Episcopal and the Evangelical Lutherans came together in full communion with a celebration entitled “Called to a common mission” in 2001 at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C. The respective bishops from Kansas and Missouri met in 2012 to discuss ways their respective ministries could be shared.
National Public Radio did a story on the Hispanic growth in the Episcopal Church last fall. It noted the outreach represents huge growth potential. It cited Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church in Portland, Ore., where a Spanish service was added several years ago. Church officials noted that attendance at the traditional morning services in English have been relatively flat; however, the afternoon services in Spanish grew quickly. They come together regularly for social activities.
Many Hispanics prefer to worship in Spanish even though they may speak English.
Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press.