Spanglish, HYLA, and Young Latino Leadership in the… | UMC YoungPeople
Connecting young people and their adult leaders to God, the church, and the world
June 2011

Spanglish, HYLA, and Young Latino Leadership in the UMC

By Chris Wilterdink

As another round of Annual Conferences approaches, the events and offerings upcoming in 2011 begin to take center stage – and a very important focus is arising across the country: leadership training for young people. While this value seems universal across the UMC, putting the value in to practice looks very different across regions and cultures. Several events and groups that gather Latino young people are in place across the US.

One practical example of of leadership training and fellowship for young people comes from Fernando Alcantar, of the California-Pacific Conference, where Spanglish has become an annual event. This weekend celebrates Latin culture in the United States, and is open to 14 to 25-year-olds throughout the Western Jurisdiction. By brining young people together to celebrate their commonalities – discussions about leadership characteristics, qualities, and needs flow naturally as a part of the event.

This year’s event will take place at foresthome camp November 11-13. The camp setting not only allows for fun free time activities but also for cross-cultural worship and other programs. The event is hosted by Cal-Pac and open to all of the Western Jurisdiction. Registration and more information is available at

The Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA) is another group who is focusing on cultural similarities as a way to train and encourage young people to explore their leadership potential within the UMC. This group has its origins at SMU, headed up by Christian De La Rosa. They have two upcoming events: High School HYLA (June 28-July 1 at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, TX) and College HYLA (July 21-23 at Drew Seminary in Madison, NJ)

Both of these events reach young people in a culturally specific setting, in order to encourage them as leaders. I encourage everyone to listen at Annual Conferences, and keep their ears open for other events that support the development of young people as leaders of the church.

Tags: event, latino, leadership, young people

Chris serves as Director of Young People’s Ministries for Discipleship Ministries of the United Methodist Church. Chris has a BA in English Education, and an MS in Project Management, and over 15 years of local-church youth ministry experience. He is passionate about leadership and faith development in young people and helping ministry leaders understand their value in the lives of young people. A Stephen Minister, Chris is a native of Colorado living in Franklin, TN with his wife Emily, 2 children, and sausage-shaped beagle.