In March, Trinity Lutheran Church (Indianapolis) started a Spanish language worship service led by Reverend Samuel Ruiz. He will be installed on November 18 at a bilingual service at Trinity.
Reverend Ruiz has both the experience and cultural background to reach some of the nine Latino groups located in the city. Cuban born, he started working with the District in 1995 when he was hired as the first Hispanic missionary. He opened missions in Valparaiso, Fort Wayne, Indianapolis and Seymour. His work included identifying and encouraging lay leaders to help with the mission.
Rev. Ruiz has been supported financially by the Indiana District–LCMS through the majority of his time working as a missionary in the Indiana District. Continued support of Rev. Ruiz is still occurring through the efforts of the District.
Rev. Ruiz held services for Jes’us de Galilea mission at Emmaus Lutheran Church in Indianapolis, Indiana until this year when his base of operation was moved to Trinity Lutheran Church and School.
Reverend Ruiz has also begun leading a Saturday service at Our Shepherd Lutheran Church in Avon at 5:00 pm. Through this church partnership, there are now two Spanish-speaking services in the city for the Indiana District, covering both the east and west sides.
Much planning initiated and coordinated by Rev. Geoff Robinson, Executive Counselor of Outreach and Human Care for the Indiana District, occurred with a coalition of pastors in the Indianapolis area, namely Rev. David Shadday, Rev. Ken Wagener, Rev. Troy Countryman, and Rev. Scott Giger so that the transition from Emmaus Lutheran to Trinity Lutheran Church and School occurred smoothly.
“Rev. Robinson has been a central figure in supporting this ministry and trying to get the structure created for it,” said Rev. David Shadday, Pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, Indianapolis, and District Vice President. Rev. Shadday has been involved with the Hispanic outreach since the start.
At the encouragement of the other members of the coalition, Rev. Ken Wagener (Trinity), Rev. Scott Giger (Cornerstone, Fishers), and Rev. Ruiz had lunch together. “We asked what it could look like if we could create a congregation-based mission to Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters,” Reverend Wagener said.
Trinity recently held a community event on September 30 that attracted a large population of the local Hispanic community. The celebration included food, mariachi, bounce houses and special speakers, including President Brege, who was invited to preach at the worship service preceding the event.
Although Revered Ruiz’s goal is to grow the church, he primarily sees this happening through small groups, noting that people are more likely to attend an event in a home rather than a church. In order to do this, he needs to train people to become leaders, so that they can effectively share the Gospel in their small group.
Being one church with two congregations does create some challenges to overcome, especially when uniting congregations with different cultural backgrounds.
“I’m a big believer that there’s a lot more that unites us than divides us,” Reverend Wagener said. “We want our brothers and sisters at the Latino service to be part of Trinity. We’re not moving toward two congregations, but one congregation. That takes time. I’m excited about the possibilities.”
To learn more about this ministry, contact Rev. Ruiz at firstname.lastname@example.org.