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Welcome at the Table: Latinidad in Methodist Churches (Yet Alive)

In this interview with Yet Alive, Alfredo Santiago—a social worker, 2021 graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary, and active participant in Latinx ministries in the Baltimore Washington Conference—discuss the unique gifts the Methodist church brings and challenges it faces in offering a welcoming table to all. The interview covered many topics, but Alfredo’s commitment to honoring the richness of Latinidad and his love of Methodism were clear dominant themes. We have tried to capture those loves in these excerpts from our interview.

Yet Alive: Can you talk about your background and religious history and tell me how you ended up in the Methodist church?

Alfredo Santiago: Interesting enough, it was connectional. I have a friend who’s a Methodist pastor, and he was doing community work in the Highlandtown area, a neighborhood of Baltimore, and we met through a mutual friend that he knew as a social worker. So we went into this community event that they were doing for Christmas. And I was impressed to see all the people volunteering. An all-white church, mostly elderly, and they were serving all these Latino immigrants.

Then I remember when I went to a United Methodist communion Sunday. The pastor, the Rev. Dr. Giovanni Arroyo, proclaimed that everyone was welcome to the table. And he said it one more time, very firmly, “Everyone is welcome to the table.” And when he said it, I believed it. And it spoke to my spirit. So after that, I received communion. I walked back to my seat in tears. I was a little bit embarrassed to be that person. Because I believed it, that there was nothing keeping me away from the Lord, from his table. And that all of me was welcome.