…I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches.
Latino/Hispanic Ministry in the Diocese of Washington has test driven many models of ministry and formation, from the very first liturgical service in Spanish that took place in 1974 through today, when we continue to seek new opportunities to grow this vibrant expression of faith. The diocese is committed to equipping its six active faith communities so that they may thrive both today and in the future.
Part of this commitment means being responsive to the needs of the changing demographics in our various mission fields.
The current and projected demographics of the Central Montgomery County region helped inform a recent decision to replant one of our Latino faith communities from Aspen Hill to Silver Spring, Maryland. Of all the places in the Diocese where it makes sense to invest in a Spanish speaking faith community, this is it. At roughly 81,000 residents, Silver Spring is the fifth-most populous area in Maryland and the second-most populous in Montgomery County. Over 27% of the population identifies as Latino/Hispanic. And of that 27% percent, we estimate about 14,000 individuals are between the ages of 18-34.
Why is this number significant? Because, as part of our Strategic Plan, we recognize how vital it is for our faith communities not only to reflect the demographics of where they worship, but also that houses of worship are spaces where our rising generations feel a sense of connection and belonging. In the case of our Latino/Hispanic communities, this can be especially important for second and third generations.
Following a year of discernment and digging into the demographic data, Misión Buen Pastor, formerly known as Misa Magdalana, became a mission of the Diocese after a vote by Diocesan Council in March 2022. It is the first mission of the diocese in recent memory and the first relaunch of a worshiping community that will focus on rising generations.
Misión Buen Pastor moved to Good Shepherd Episcopal Church and held their first service on May 15. Much work is ahead for Misión Buen Pastor. With the leadership of the Rev. Anna Olson, the congregation is courageously exploring new ways to be church in their community. The people are eager and look forward to serving the Spanish speaking population in the Silver Spring/Aspen Hill/Wheaton area.
Mildred Briones Reyes
Missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministries and Diocesan Initiatives