BY RICHARD HEARN, Director of Development at Lydia Patterson Institute
Since it’s founding, Methodists have supported the improvement of the world through education. In America, for example, Methodists have been creating schools since the early 1800’s. These schools can be traced back to schools like Boston College, Northwestern University, and still hold a presence at others schools such Duke, Centenary College, Southern Methodist University, Hendrix College and many others. For Methodists, education was a way of creating leaders for the world whose faith was an important aspect of their life. Because of this, United Methodist have opened not only colleges and universities, but also middle schools, high schools and seminaries.
A good example of this is Lydia Patterson Institute, in El Paso, Texas. In the late 1800’s a Methodist Missionary Society woman, Mrs. Lydia Patterson along with other Methodist women witnessed the influx of Mexican citizens fleeing the brutality of the Mexican Revolution. These immigrants settled in the Segundo Barrio (Second Ward) of El Paso, which was at the- time, one of the poorest and most dangerous neighborhoods along the Rio Grande River. Because of the influx of immigrants into the Segundo Barrio, El Paso school officials decided not to provide education opportunities for these students. Mrs. Patterson and the other ladies of Trinity Methodist Church, now known as Trinity-First UMC, became aware of this injustice and drove their buggies down into the Barrio and picked up students and brought them to Methodist homes for schooling.
Unfortunately, Mrs. Patterson died and her husband, a prominent physician, donated $75,000 in 1913 to buy the land and build the original school. LPI still sits on the same square block and is a beacon of hope providing education for over 400 students. Every day, students travel from their homes in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico to the International Bridge, clear immigration and walk the nine blocks to the LPI campus. Since free education in Mexico ends at the completion of the eighth grade, many of these students would have no opportunity to continue their education without our United Methodist School.
Lydia Patterson Institute, known by many as La Lydia, is one of the most redemptive and life-changing ministries of the United Methodist Church. The school prides itself in knowing that 98% of students who enter LPI go on to graduate, over 95% go on to enroll in a college or university, many of which are United Methodist institutions, and over 90% of them go on to graduate from their college or university. These young, bi-lingual and bi-cultural students have gone on to make an impact all over the world. Some of our alumni have gone on to work for Disneyland, U.S. Embassy’s, they have become business owners and prominent entrepreneurs and some have even gone on to serve as Elders in the United Methodist Church.
While education at LPI is outstanding, the current facilities (built in the 1960’s) and technological availability is somewhat lacking. Lydia Patterson is currently engaged in a $15 million dollar capital funds campaign to update the current building in order to provide a better learning environment for its students. In order to help La Lydia grow God’s kingdom, The Louisiana Annual Conference has taken a lead role in the campaign by pledging $500,000 of which $75,000 has been pledged from First UMC, Baton Rouge.
The new building will help student’s learning experience immensely. Plans for the new building will include a new cafeteria and new kitchen for preparing the meals, it will house Student Activities department, the Fine Arts Program which will include both music and dance and will be home to the Spiritual Development Program.
By pledging money towards Lydia Patterson, we are committing in helping the school make disciples for Christ. The new Chapel will help with practical issues such as more classrooms for the religion courses, space for the lay ministry team to explore their callings to ministry and room to create more effective worship services. Perhaps the most exciting thing about the new chapel is that the school will now be able to house all of its students in one worship service because there will be more seating. While the current chapel only houses 300 people, this new chapel will have room for 650. Not only will the school be able to worship as one community, but the space will also be available to the community in order to create better relationships.
Will you join us in supporting this blessed ministry which, for some, provides the only opportunity many of these students have to escape their current poverty?
In June 2015, the FUMC Youth Group sent a group of 60 volunteers to work on LPI’s campus, doing various repairs to the parking lot, roof, and library. Here are a few missioners’ thoughts on their trip.
“Lydia Patterson was one of the most eye opening and humbling experiences I have ever had, to see kids that have so little love life and God so much is something you can never forget.”
–Emilie Barnes, Freshman at Louisiana Tech University
“My eyes were opened to how privileges of a life I have. I wish all the kids I met could have the life I live.”
–Robert Mann, Sophomore at University Laboratory School
“The faculty is nurturing, supportive, and dedicated to the students desire to get an education and improve their lives. In spite of the inability of many of their parents’ to pay tuition to attend LPI, the students work their way through school by doing jobs at the school before and after school each day and during the summer. The graduation rate of over 95% demonstrate the commitment of the students and faculty. I was and remain very impressed with the success of Lydia Patterson Institute.”
–Larry Melsheimer, Adult Volunteer/Chaperone, father to Matthew, 10th grade
BY LUISA DELGADILLO, 2015 Graduate of LPI, Freshman at Centenary College
Lydia Patterson Institute is a small school that is in the center of El Paso, Tx. just across the border. Through the years you get to know all the students, teachers and staff members. One of the ways in which I met more people, among them my best friends was through the organizations to which I belonged. Students have a lot to choose from, there is student council, lay ministry, National Honor Society, Robotics, or even some sports team. It does not matter in which one you are, the more time you spend on the school, you meet new friends or even strengthens friendships you already have.
One of the groups to which I belonged and I am super grateful for is Lay Ministry. Lay ministry is a Christian group in which you not only do community service and help in a local United Methodist church, but you have the chance to explore your calling to ministry.
In that group I met one of my best friends who helped me throughout my junior and senior year. We had small services and events that helped us to get organized and to focus on what really matters which was our relationship with God and sharing that relationship and love with the rest of the school. This group became a family for me, being a group so special where nobody judged you, but accepted you as you were, and made us give the best of us to others. I am confident that thanks to God and to that group I am where I am right now, physically and spiritually.
Now I am in Shreveport attending school at Centenary College and missing all the great moments that I had at La Lydia but taking into account that I have to move forward with the plans that God has for me. Here at Centenary College I have known many people and learned so much in my first semester. I am currently in
Christian Leadership Center (CLC) which is much like Lay Ministry, I have met people super nice that helped me a lot in my first semester and I am waiting to return the favor. Finally, I know that God has been with me throughout my life in many ways and through many people and I have the certainty that God will keep surprising and amazing me.