August 1, 2016
Many people prize living in Nebraska because of the availability of jobs, the low cost of living, low crime, and good schools. These are also reasons that make Nebraska an increasingly popular place for Hispanic immigrants.
What are the numbers?
Data from a UNO Center for Public Affairs census provided information that many were already aware of: Nebraska’s non-metropolitan areas are shrinking, and two-thirds of the state’s population currently resides in 13 metropolitan counties. Some of the data which came as a surprise to many was the marked increase in Nebraska’s Hispanic population. The least populated counties in Nebraska have an average 3% Hispanic population, and the more densely populated counties have an average Hispanic population of about 9%. In some areas of Nebraska, especially those towns with work in the meat packing industry, the Hispanic population is much larger.
The percentage of Hispanics in Nebraska is expected to nearly triple and reach about 24% of the population by 2050, with many of those being native-born Nebraskans of Hispanic heritage.
What does this mean for the Nebraska District?
The Nebraska District LCMS sees this demographic shift as a tremendous opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus with our new neighbors. One important ministry for reaching the Hispanic population of Nebraska is the bilingual Spanish/English congregation of Cristo Cordero de Dios in Grand Island, Nebraska’s first Hispanic LCMS congregation.
Members of LCMS congregations in Grand Island have been active in the Hispanic community and with Cristo Cordero de Dios through their time, talents, and treasures for years. Members of Peace have organized VBS in a trailer court in the area and partner with the members of Cristo Cordero de Dios to be able to communicate with children and parents who are not fluent in English. Members of both Trinity and Peace have worked alongside members of Cristo Cordero de Dios to renovate and repair the sanctuary and parsonage. These congregations find many ways to reach out to the Hispanic community around them.
The congregation of Cristo Cordero was blessed this December when Rev. Salvador Ferrero was installed as their pastor. As a bilingual pastor, he will be able to reach out to those in the area who speak Spanish as their primary language, and also to their children, who often use English as their primary language. Rev. Ferrero and his family are from Mexico, and have spent the last few years living in California. His wife, Isabel, has been studying for her PhD in chemistry and has been a teacher. Their two sons, one in high school and one in preschool, are settling in to a very different life during their first Nebraska winter. Please pray for this family as they begin their work in Grand Island.
Rev. Salvador Ferrero and his family at his installation. The installation was also attended by (left to right) Third Vice-President, Rev. Craig Neimeier; District President Rich Snow; Rev. Luke Biggs; Rev. Shawn Kitzing; Rev. Terry Brandenburg, and Rev. Rich Boring, Assistant to the President in Outreach and New Ministries.
In Your Own Community
Take some time to think about your community and the ways the demographics have changed. Perhaps your community doesn’t have a significant population of Hispanic or Sudanese immigrants, but you may have an increased amount of single-parent families, of young families, or of homebound elderly as your population ages and younger people leave. Your congregation is likely to find that you are surrounded by people with many needs who are not yet connected with Christ.
The Nebraska District is grateful for the congregations and individuals who donate to the District and Mission Central, as through those donations you are already partnering with these and other ministries. To learn more about outreach opportunities in the Nebraska District, please contact Rev. Rich Boring or Nichole Hetz at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the District Ministries page of our website.
Hispanic Ministry is just the tip of the iceberg. Learn about some of the different ways Nebraska District congregations are meeting the needs of the people around them in our “In the World, Not of the World” videos.