Church crosses cultural lines with ‘Almost Cinco de Mayo’ festival

Apr. 25, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

To kick off a larger effort to bring black, white, Asian, Hispanic and all other people together in one of Lee County’s most diverse areas, Jonesboro United Methodist Church is holding a free “Almost Cinco de Mayo” festival on Saturday.

Jonesboro UMC is trying on one hand to increase awareness of Hispanic culture in the area, and on the other hand to get members of the local Hispanic community more integrated with their neighbors. But instead of just using the pinatas and sombreros so often seen around Cinco de Mayo, they’re doing it with a new ministry called El Refugio, a $150,000 grant and a bilingual group of pastors.

Saturday’s festival, which will be held at the church at 407 W. Main St. from 3-7 p.m., is the first official action from El Refugio, which has a goal of bringing Hispanics and non-Hispanics closer.

There will be folk dancers, information booths in English and Spanish, activities for children, food vendors, games, a mariachi band and more. All are invited.

There will also be more serious offerings, like information on the immigration-related DREAM Act and local family services, plus the chance to sign up for free conversational language classes — Spanish for English speakers as well as English for Spanish speakers — which will begin in June.

The whole idea behind El Refugio, according to the church, is to foster “a community of support and transformation among Spanish-speaking and English-speaking people, opening windows of opportunity for personal, family and community development and cultural sharing.”

For more information on the ministry, visit



WHAT: “Almost Cinco de Mayo” festival, free and open to everyone

WHEN: 3-7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Jonesboro United Methodist Church, 407 W. Main St., Sanford.