New intern to assist Conference in immigration ministry, hospitality


When Natalia Olivares and her family moved from Mexico to the United States when she was 5 years old, it was the United Methodist Church who showed them the greatest hospitality.

Raised in Phoenix as her parents ministered to parishioners in the area as United Methodist pastors, the now 21-year-old music education student at Portland State University is excited to be giving back to the church by helping other immigrant and migrant families.

She will serve as an intern for the Oregon-Idaho Conference’s immigration ministry for the next year – working to build the Conference’s capacity in this area.

“I’ve always understood the church, literally, as my family,” Olivares said. “It’s all about the commitment we have to one another.”

Olivares’ internship is being funded through the National Plan for Hispanic Latino Ministry through the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministry.

For the next year, Olivares will be working with the Conference’s immigration task force team, churches involved in immigrant and refugee ministry and help churches wishing to expand their immigrant and refugee ministries, according to Rev. Lowell Greathouse, coordinator of mission and ministry for the Conference.

“She’ll help us expand our work of hospitality, support and advocacy for immigrants and refugees who are being displaced because of public policy decisions,” Greathouse said.

Olivares has experience working with MARCHA (Methodists Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans) and the Interfaith Movement for Immigrant Justice Oregon, which Greathouse said will help churches looking to expand their work to connect with helpful resources.

After high school, Olivares said it was the Hispanic Latino ministries networks that helped her develop leadership skills. She’s hoping in addition to everything else she’ll be doing, she can help young Hispanic Latinos in local churches find opportunities for growth as well.

“I’m so ready,” she said. “I’m so excited.”