Celebrating Hispanic American Heritage Month in the WNCC: Rev. Juan Julio Paredes

September 14, 2023

By: Jim Pyatt, WNCC Archivist & Historian

Rev. Juan Julio Paredes

The Rev. Juan Julio Paredes is the recipient of the Harry Denman Award for Evangelism in the WNC Conference for 2023, recognizing him for his work in using sports for evangelism, especially with Hispanic/Latino youth. A Local Pastor in the WNC Conference, the Rev. Paredes served 2017-20 as Hispanic Assistant at Memorial UMC and Aldersgate UMC in Charlotte and 2020-23 as Assistant Pastor at Aldersgate UMC in Charlotte. In his nomination of the Rev. Paredes for the Denman Award, the Rev. Tim Webster writes: “In 2016 Pastor Juan Julio Paredes and I began to dream about a sports ministry at Aldersgate UMC in Charlotte. We went to a training session on local church based sports ministry. We then obtained a mailing list of households in the neighborhoods around the church. We chose the names that looked like they might be Spanish speaking. He began to visit the homes going from door to door. Of course there was some suspicion in many of the homes. But he would explain, to those who would give him a chance, of his vision of helping their children to develop their character through soccer and also his intention of helping the children to make their pathway to university. One key moment was when he knocked on the door of a household of a lady who was a key person in the neighborhood. She then called around to her friends and told them to listen to Pastor Juan Julio. In late spring time the ministry began on the sports field at Aldersgate. There was only a limited area that was clear. Over the decades the sport’s field had become overgrown with vegetation and had become a dumping ground for the neighborhood. Eventually with the help of people from the community, many of them the mothers of the children, we cleared the field, filling five large containers of all kinds of trash and vegetation. “

“The ministry has grown year by year. Each week when the children gather there is a time of greeting and introduction of visitors. There is a time to go over rules and a time of prayer. After a time of practicing a certain skill then there is a time for a Bible story illustrating

a characteristic of a disciple of Jesus. Many times the sports skill practiced that day fits with the theme of a disciple. After a song and a prayer a scrimmage follows. Finally there is a time of refreshments. Often watermelons are the main refreshment. Finally the children and youths clean the field and store all the equipment. In the past year or so some of the older young people and their parents have visited some of the North Carolina Universities and some have enrolled and begun their studies.”

The WNC Conference commends the Rev. Juan Julio Paredes for his work in evangelism and congratulates him upon receiving the Harry Denman Award!

Be sure to read the other biographies written by WNCC Archivist & Historian Jim Pyatt:

Rev. Diana Wingeier-Rayo, the first Hispanic/Latina woman to be received into full clergy membership in the WNC Conference.

Raul Adriano, the first known person of Hispanic/Latino heritage to be elected by The WNCC to serve as a Lay Delegate to General Conference.

Rev. Carlos Alberto Rodriguez, a key figure at the Board of Missions Office of The WNCC in 1961.

Rev. Dr. Abraham Kim, the first Asian-American to be elected as a clergy delegate to Jurisdictional Conference from the WNC Conference.

Rev. Karen Miyoshi Kagiyama, the first Asian-American women to be ordained an Elder in the WNCC.

In Muk Kim, the first Asian-American to be elected as a delegate (clergy or lay) to Jurisdictional Conference from the WNC Conference.

Rev. M. B. Lee McCrary, the first woman to become a full clergy member of the Western North Carolina Conference. 

Rev. Dolores Barus Queen, the first woman to serve as District Superintendent in the Western NC Conference.

Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer, the first (and to date, the only) woman to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mrs. Jettie Morrison, a key figure in the Women's Society of Christian Service and the integration of The United Methodist Church in 1968.

Bishop L. Scott Allen (May 4, 1918-September 18, 2004), the first (and to date, the only) African-American to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mrs. Effie Miller (September 17, 1930-September 1, 2008), a leader in the Western North Carolina Conference and the United Methodist Church, especially with regard to the United Methodist Women.

The Rev. Dr. J. C. Peters (July 10, 1925- July 2, 1998)the first African-American to serve as a District Superintendent in the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mr. Clarence Winchester,  a leader in the North Carolina Conference (Central Jurisdiction) and in the WNC Conference.

Dr. Isaac Miller (September 26, 1920-November 1, 2008), a leader in Higher Education and in the United Methodist Church.

#BeUMC Personal Reflections