When They Prayed
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   I chose the theme of our 2023 Annual Conference session, “When They Prayed,” based on Acts 4:31: “And when they had prayed, the place in which they ...
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Hispanic Heritage Month

September 14, 2020

“Today is the day
God embraces all hues of humanity
Delights in diversity and difference,
Favors solidarity transforming strangers into friends.
And so shall we
(From a Companion Litany to our Social Creed

I’m just three short months into this expanded role as Director of Connectional Ministries, and a new world has opened up before me. A world from which I am learning, asking questions, immersing myself in, building relationships, and embracing the rich diversity that I am discovering. What world is this, you ask? It is the ministry of our Hispanic-Latino brothers and sisters across South Georgia.

One of the first things I’ve learned is that while our Hispanic-Latino congregations may share a common language - Spanish (although there are differences in language and dialect between the various cultures) - they are actually incredibly diverse and represent many countries: Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, and I’m sure some others I have yet to discover. I took much of this for granted in my understanding of the label “Hispanic Ministries.” These congregations define multiculturalism. 

As I continue to learn more, I invite you on this journey with me. Connectional Ministries has created a South Georgia UMC Hispanic Ministries Facebook page as a platform to connect with these ministries and create community. In addition to the Facebook page, there is a new section on our conference website dedicated to our Hispanic-Latino Ministries. I encourage you to take a moment and begin to learn more about this vital ministry in South Georgia. 

In our conference, we currently have five Hispanic pastors serving eight congregations and three Hispanic pastors serving English-speaking churches. Each faith community is unique and they, too, are beginning to return to in-person worship, navigate an online presence, and creatively continue their outreach to their communities. Your connectional giving through your Conference apportionments, in partnership with the districts and our Hispanic congregations, provides salary support for the pastors, leadership development for clergy and laity, and  spiritual formation programming and opportunities. This collaboration is another example of the strength in our connection for fruitful ministry.  

As of July 2019, Hispanic and Latino Americans were an estimated 18.5 percent of the total U.S. population (60.6 million people), making this population the largest ethnic minority. Georgia is one of 12 states with 1 million or more Hispanic residents. Hispanic influences are tightly woven in the fabric of American life through music, food, art, cinema, politics, literature, and so much more. Click here for more facts and features. 

It’s time to celebrate! Hispanic Heritage Month kicks off September 15, and the celebration lasts through October 15. The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded to four weeks in 1988 by President Ronald Reagan. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988. You might be asking yourself why this focus starts and ends in the middle of these months. September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico, Chile and Belize celebrate their independence days on September 16, September 18, and 21, respectively.

Resource UMC provides outreach ideas for Hispanic Heritage Month, and Connectional Ministries is joining with our Hispanic congregations to celebrate their diversity and ministries. We are thankful for their witness and to be “Alive Together at the Table.”  

With the kick-off of Hispanic Heritage Month on September 15, Connectional Ministries will begin celebrating this diversity by sharing authentic recipes from our Hispanic pastors and members of their congregations. I am already planning my first attempt at Pupusas! I hope you, too, will have fun making some new dishes, take some time to learn more about the country of origin, learn a few conversational phrases in Spanish, and share with us what you have learned. You can use the social media hashtag #alivetogetheratthetable to share your fun or email me at allison@sgaumc.com

Another component of ministry with Hispanic-Latino brothers and sisters is around advocacy. In The United Methodist Church, we have groups such as The National Plan for Hispanic-Latino Ministry, M.A.R.C.H.A. (Methodists Associated Representing the Cause of Hispanic Americans), Hispanic Women, Hispanic Clergywomen, and others who advocate for the Hispanic-Latino people. 

In South Georgia, the work of the Task Force: Undocumented Neighbors and the Task Force: Multiculturalism  produced invaluable resources through videos and resource guides to educate and raise awareness for inclusiveness and intentionality in ministry to our neighbors. If you are just beginning your journey as I am, these resources are a good place to start.  

“Today is the day… and so shall we.” Lord, let it be so!

For more information about Hispanic-Latino Ministries, contact Rev. Daniel Medina, Connectional Ministries Associate Director for Hispanic Affairs, at danmedina007@bellsouth.net

Allison Lindsey is the director of Connectional Ministries. She has a passion for the local church and its people. Contact her at allison@sgaumc.com

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