What began as English classes has developed into a growing bi-lingual worshiping community in Haines City. Three years ago, Lamb of God, Haines City, applied for a Together in Mission (TiM) grant to support offering English classes to Spanish-speakers in the community. The congregation appointed Dr. Izzy Bango-Sanchez, a bi-lingual member of the congregation, to work with Pr. Joe Conner in strengthening and expanding the Latino ministry. In September, 2016, the community began a Spanish worship service, led by Pr. Conner with assistance from Dr. Bango-Sanchez. In February, 2017, the community was approved as a Synodically Authorized Worshiping Community (SAWC)–under the leadership of Dr. Bango-Sanchez–called “Mision Hispana Luterana Cordero de Dios”. As a SAWC (Synodically Authorized Worshiping Community), Cordero de Dios is being developed as a bi-lingual partnership between the English- speaking and Spanish-speaking congregations, the Florida-Bahamas Synod, and the ELCA Churchwide Organization. Dr. Bango-Sanchez leads the liturgy and provides overall leadership, while Pr. Conner continues to preside at Communion and offers support where needed.
Children and youth of Cordero de Dios are beginning to be involved in many aspects of the faith community, including singing and dancing during worship, forming a youth group called “Followers of Christ (Seguidores de Cristo)” and doing fellowship events like going bowling together. New members wishing to join the ministry—most of whom are both English and Spanish speakers—were received during worship on March 12. English and Spanish speakers joined together for a Palm Sunday service that included a beautiful procession around the church block, and was followed up by a Maundy Thursday foot-washing service. Those English classes that started the whole ministry have now expanded to classes for beginners, intermediate, and more advanced English language learners. This is the 4th year of this program being offered at Lamb of God.