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Sept. 13 — Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15– Oct. 15)

Courtesy photo.
Courtesy photo.

A Moment for Mission

“For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.’ So then, each of us will be accountable to God.” —Romans 14:11-12, NRSV

Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated September 15 through October 15, was created to promote the history, culture and contributions of Hispanic/Latinx whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. Communities mark the achievements of Hispanic and Latino Americans with festivals and educational activities.

Hispanic Heritage Week was first observed under President Lyndon Johnson, but President Ronald Reagan extended it to a monthlong celebration in 1988. The date for Hispanic Heritage Month corresponds with the independence of such countries as Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico and Nicaragua.

Hispanic and Latino Americans represent almost one-fifth of the total U.S. population, making it the largest ethnic minority group. The state with the largest Hispanic/Latinx population overall is California with more than 14 million.

Hispanic influences are tightly knit in the fabric of American life—art, cinema, food, literature, music and politics. While Hispanic children learn about their roots this month, everyone can benefit from learning about Spanish history and culture.

Among The United Methodist Church’s 6,671,825 million U.S. lay members, a little over 1 percent, or 80,968, are Hispanic. Of the denomination’s 37,009 U.S. clergy members, less than 2 percent—708—identify as Hispanic. Three active U.S. bishops are Hispanic/Latinx: Bishop Minerva Garza Carcaño, Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey and Bishop Ruben Saenz.

Elected to the episcopacy in 2016, Saenz told UM News, “We’re called to be episcopal leaders for all people, not just the Hispanic community.”

Offertory Prayer
Loving God, we come from many countries, representing many cultures and languages. Show us how to nurture the gifts each person brings to the table of grace. In your name, we pray. Amen.

From Discipleship Ministries: Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost — God of our salvation, we remember that day when the Israelites, escaping their captors, were rescued by you, as you parted the sea to let them cross. Over the years, scholars have struggled with how many died that day that another group might be led to freedom. We offer our gifts to you in thankfulness for all your blessings, knowing others have so much less. Then we remember, that we have been blessed to be a blessing. May the lives we live this day and every day be an offering of blessing to those who are in need. In Jesus, we pray. Amen. (Exodus 14:19-31)

From United Methodist Men: Jesus, You are my Shepherd I know I am weak and vulnerable. As I get older my hearing fades and my sight weakens. Sometimes I make poor decisions, even stupid ones. But I hear Your voice and I know You hear mine. I recognize Your voice when I am still. Help me to be quiet and listen. Even though I am stubborn, do not let my heart become deadened. And do not let my eyes be blinded by self-righteousness or self-interest. Keep my ears open and my mouth shut So, Your words may provide guidance and comfort. Jesus, You are my shepherd. Amen. – Andrew Kissell, Virginia Beach, Va.

Newsletter Nugget
Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for United Methodists and other people of faith to respond to vulnerable communities, hard hit by COVID-19. One is the Hispanic/Latinx community, representing almost one-fifth of the U.S. population.

Northern Illinois Annual Conference includes 20 Hispanic/Latinx churches and New Faith Communities, as well as 29 pastors and lay missioners who serve in Spanish-speaking congregations and cross-cultural appointments.

“Our church has a food pantry that, in normal circumstances, feeds 95 people from the Chicago Lawn area,” said Rosa Garcia, lay missioner from Chicago Lawn. “Now we are providing food for 250 individuals to feed approximately 750 people.”

Pastor Cesar Hernandez from First Church in Crystal Lake joined the Latino Leadership Network for McHenry County, which helps Hispanic/Latinx families by providing information, identifying resources and offering instruction in education, economics, health and human rights.

In a virtual meeting, Bishop Sally Dyck encouraged the Hispanic/Latinx pastors to continue to lead their congregations and commended them to God’s protection, care and keeping.

Adapted from “COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts Hispanic/Latinx Community,” the Rev. Fabiola Grandon-Mayer, Northern Illinois Annual Conference, July 7, 2020. Used by permission.