(adjective) - relating to a person or to a large group of people who share a national, racial, linguistic, or religious heritage, whether or not they reside in their countries of origin
It is clear that, by definition, we all belong to some ethnic group! However, for the purposes of our ministry, we use the term to refer to people who share a national and linguistic heritage other than North American and English-speaking. That is, we seek to serve and reach people who are recent immigrants to the United States and their immediate descendants.
Estimates indicate that within the Cleveland/Bradley County area we have over 60 different nationalities represented. Cleveland City Schools’ records show that students and their families speak over 30 different languages at home, not counting English. All that in a county with a total population of less than 100,000!
The two largest ethnic groups in Cleveland/Bradley County are the Hispanic and Slavic. Hispanics (who can be of any race) are by far the largest group, made up of between 3,000 to 9,000 individuals. Hispanics can be from any of the 21 Spanish-speaking countries; however, the majority of Hispanics in our area come from Mexico, Guatemala, and other Central American countries. Slavs, who get ‘lost’ in the numbers of the white population, are in their majority from Ukraine and Russia. Estimates for the Slavic population go from 1,500 to over 3,000 individuals. Though in smaller numbers, other ethnic groups present in our community include: Indian, Nepali, Vietnamese, Chinese, Korean, Brazilian, Filipino, German, French, Nigerian, Albanian, Greek, Italian, and many others.
 We have to make ‘educated guesstimates’ of these numbers because, as it is commonly acknowledged by those working Hispanics, Census estimates fall short of the reality. In the case of the Slavic population, they are not even accounted for in the Census as a separate ethnicity.