By the Rev. Lyda Pierce

Bishop Elaine Stanovsky posted on Facebook last week:

The Holy Spirit enabled people who spoke different languages to understand each other, and made them into ONE CHURCH. ….

I pray for this miracle within the United Methodist Church this Pentecost — that we will speak and hear in each other’s languages, and find A WAY FORWARD that embraces deep difference in deeper unity.

We have a way to help non-Spanish speakers live into this Pentecost dream of unity across cultural and ethnic barriers: a fun, concentrated Spanish language learning experience. We call it Spanish Wings: Spanish Language Experience for Church Leaders.

A Spanish: Beginning Plus class is offered for those who know a bit of Spanish and want to get to where they can hold basic conversations, and also read prayers, the Bible and liturgies. A Spanish: Intermediate class is offered for those who have basic Spanish skills and want to increase their vocabulary and confidence at conversation.

Beginning Plus
July 9-13, 2018 (Mon. thru Fri.)
Mt Vernon UMC
Mt Vernon, Washington
Click Here to Register!

July 23-27, 2018 (Mon. thru Fri.)
Sunnyside UMC
Sunnyside, Washington
Click Here to Register!

There is no need to buy airline tickets to another country, sit still in a classroom, worry about homework, nor spend grueling hours memorizing grammar to learn Spanish. Rather you have the opportunity to spend a week playing games, singing songs, drawing, laughing, acting, praying, cooking, and even closing your eyes to meditate and listen to a story. That may sound like kindergarten but it is actually a carefully and scientifically crafted methodology for adults to learn a language. Our teacher, Suzy Martinez, calls the methodology ALAS, a word meaning “wings” in Spanish which serves as an acronym defining her method.

Learn Spanish through ALAS: Arts and Latin American Stories


The schedule includes times for meals, which will, in themselves be further learning opportunities. There will be regular breaks. Be aware that this will be a varied and participatory experience. You will not be sitting in one spot for any single extended period as most of us have experienced in meetings and other types of classes. Spanish Wings is more of an adventure than a class.

  • Monday: 1 pm – 8:30 pm
  • Tuesday through Thursday: 8:30 am – 8:30 pm
  • Friday 8:30 am – noon

This is an intensive, but relaxed, enjoyable learning experience. Please limit other responsibilities and communication as much as possible to allow your brain to soak in Spanish.

Continue reading for more information about the event locations, lodging and online registration. If you have questions about the two levels, or any other details, please contact Lyda Pierce,,509-778-3864

About the Locations

Each session will be held in a local church, using various spaces within the building and going out into the community occasionally. Both churches have Spanish speaking members. Each is embedded in communities which primarily depend on agriculture and have significant Spanish speaking members, many working in that field, and an increasing number owning businesses and working in many different professions.

The Beginning Plus experience will be in Mt Vernon which is located in the Skagit Valley, between the Puget Sound and the Cascades. Mt. Baker is the high point with the Olympic Mountains sometimes visible across the sound. Flowers, potatoes, berries and dairy are among the primary agricultural products of this lush valley.

The Intermediate experience will be in Sunnyside which is located in the Yakima Valley in the center of the state of Washington along the Yakima River. From some locations you can see two glacier covered strata-volcanos, Mt Adams to the west and Mt Rainier to the northwest. Sunnyside is in the fascinating sage-steppe ecosystem which may look brown to the casual eye, but has many treasures for those with the curiosity to seek and enjoy. Summer temperatures get quite warm, so the church building is air-conditioned.


Lodging is available for no additional charge at each church. Just bring your own cot or mat and bedding to bed down comfortably in shared, but large, spaces.

Hotels are available in both communities for those who which to arrange their own lodging.


The following rates are offered for this year’s training:

  • Early Bird Registration = $480 (through June 30)
  • Registration = $575 (July 1 and after)

There will be a few scholarships available, though funding is tight so please check into other resources, such as continuing education funds, before requesting a scholarship.

Registration includes the following:

  • All class sessions including evenings
  • All classroom materials (except your own notebook)
  • A simple Spanish New Testament
  • Supplies for making-your-own-breakfast
  • The option of staying in the church or with a family (family option is Mt Vernon only)
  • Conversation with Hispanic members of the local church
  • For PNW clergy: completion of the quadrennial cultural competency requirement
  • The ability to study Spanish close to home without the expense of traveling to another country.

Registration is online and will be up by the end of the week here and on the PNW Conference website.

Other costs for participants not included:

  • Transportation
  • Snacks to share
  • Any special foods needed for your own dietary needs. We will attempt to make food available for special diets, but cannot guarantee it, especially if your needs are complicated.
  • One meal out Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, which will be an opportunity to practice Spanish in a local restaurant
  • Other lodging besides the local church such as an hotel

The Rev. Lyda Pierce serves as director of Hispanic/Latino Ministries for the Pacific Northwest Conference Office of Connectional Ministries.

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