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In small towns, people tend to know one another ... but in Seville, Florida, members of the local United Methodist church felt they needed to know their neighbors a lot better. So, they made a game of it: Soccer. Reed Galin has their story. [ESPAÑOL]

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SCRIPT:

(Locator: Seville, Florida)

It started with the kids … this “field of dreams.”

Kathy Jones, Seville Trinity United Methodist Church: “We saw that our community did come together on that field, and most of the time it was through the children.”

Two very different communities … that discovered they weren’t that different. A church growing smaller … an immigrant community growing larger … and the open fields around Seville Trinity United Methodist Church that bridged the two. Now, it’s been transformed and groomed.

The Rev. Nelson Bonilla, Seville Trinity United Methodist Church: “This field used to be a baseball field. And now it’s a soccer field. That to me is, we can see in there how the community is changing.”

Vivian Cade Seville Trinity United Methodist Church: “I’ve been a member of this church for 50 years.”

Vivian Cade remembers tension, even violence, when immigrants began settling in this agricultural region of central Florida a few decades ago. Trinity’s congregation was not easily integrated. But, now, Vivian is learning Spanish ... and about soccer.

Vivian Cade: “This field and the people of the church is about change. It’s about change of ourselves. It’s about change of attitudes, and about the family of God.”

The Rev. Nelson Bonilla, Seville Trinity United Methodist Church: “It took a lot of work and a lot of investment that we did as a church. They were willing to open their pockets.”

The congregation has spent 15-thousand dollars and got a grant for more to develop soccer fields, walkways, and a volleyball pit—creating a park around the church.

Eloisa Ortiz, Seville Trinity United Methodist Church: “The fact that this is not a Spanish congregation, this is an English congregation, to me it means that this church cares about this community.”

Build it, and they will come … and play … until light fades on summer evenings—and then some. Rev. Bonilla, who loves the game himself, is pleased that some players started coming to Trinity on Sundays. But that’s not the only goal.

The Rev. Nelson Bonilla: “We are reaching out to the community, adapting ourselves to what the community is right now.”

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Plans for further developing the soccer field and the park include adding bleachers and lighting, and a community garden.

For more information, contact Trinity United Methodist Church at 386-749-2804.

Posted: June 10, 2010