The National Association of Latina UM Clergy Women (ACLAMEN) is like a well-spring of living waters in which patoras Latinas come to quench their thirst. In August, I had the amazing privilege of participating in the second National Assembly of ACLAMEN, at Boston University. For two days, as we listened to the powerful stories of Latina clergywomen, I learned to weave my story with that of my passionate sisters in a way that I had never imagined during my seminary education. As a young pastor, I have gained new wisdom from the women who have dedicated their lives to the service of God and community through The United Methodist Church.
Latina clergywoman work to transform lives through the love of God, despite the fact that we belong to a minority group that is oftentimes dehumanized and viewed with suspicion at all levels of society. ACLAMEN provided a much-needed sacred space for us. We laughed and cried together. I came out of this assembly knowing that I am not alone, that there is a community of pastoras who are not afraid to seek justice while embracing their cultural traditions. Even as the Latina clergywomen were weaving their stories of discrimination and injustice, of brokenness and wholeness, the Holy Spirit was healing broken hearts and giving new hope for the future.
That is exactly what happened to me as Erika Granados-De La Rosa and I responded to stories from the ministries of Rev. Liz Lopez and Rev. Aida Fernandez. Here, we were not afraid to name the evil that affects our lives. These women of faith gave me courage to continue to grow into the fullness of my ability and embrace who I am while helping to build the Kingdom of God. In the weaving of our stories together, we make God’s body stronger and become more effective advocates for radical inclusiveness and human justice.
ACLAMEN is the only national association that gives the opportunity to Latina clergywomen within the Church to come together as we are, to share our stories and grow into the fullness of our abilities. I went to the second National Assembly thirsty for new hope, for a new vision. The women of ACLAMEN quenched my thirst with the living water of God’s love and compassion. May God bless them for everything they bring to The United Methodist Church and the wider community.
Rev. Geisa Y. Matos-Machuca is a provisional elder in the New England Annual (regional) Conference who serves as lead pastor at First UMC in Manchester, N.H.