The Iglesia Metodista Hispana - a Spanish-speaking church designed to serve the growing Hispanic population in Bloomington, Ind. - met for the first time Palm Sunday morning.

Eleven people gathered in the chapel at the South Indiana United Methodist Conference Center to worship in their native tongue and culture.

Everything is in Spanish, and according to Pastor Ramon Tristani, the Latin American culture or "feel" of the church is almost as important as the language.

"Every culture of people has certain traditions, ways of doing things or not doing things. Hispanics ... There's not much analysis of the other person before allowing them into the circle of friends," said Tristani, whose regular job is as an engineer at Crane.

Nine adults and two children might not seem like much, but Tristani, a native of Puerto Rico, started a similar church 25 years ago with a lot less.

The Rev. Bob Ostermeyer, superintendent for the Bloomington District, attended the service Sunday, and although he doesn't yet speak Spanish, intends to learn the language this year.

We just got to the point where we said, 'We need to start an outreach ministry.' We've studied the demographics, and Monroe County is one of the places in Indiana where the Hispanic population is growing. Greene County also is on that list. So we feel there's a group not currently being reached with a Spanish worship service." - Herald-Times of Bloomington