Experience New Cultures by Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at Your Church

Experience New Cultures by Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month at Your Church

By Lupita Chavarria

Associate Pastor at St. Andrew, Geyer Springs UMC

Below is the Spanish version of the story. For the English version, scroll down to the bottom of the post.

En Estados Unidos celebramos el Mes de la Herencia Hispana-Latina para dedicar un mes completo a la celebración de la contribución que la cultura Latina hace a nuestro país, en este mes varios países de América Latina celebran su independencia(México, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica y Honduras) acto que los declara países independientes de España, y lo celebran de una manera muy especial y con ingredientes culturales propios, llamando así a Septiembre el “Mes de la Patria” donde cada país celebra su orgullo nacional de manera única, así mismo cada país le rinde homenaje a sus propios héroes que contribuyeron a su libertad como país.

Los países latinoamericanos celebran con música, baile, comida y desfiles de niños uniformados de las escuelas y las fuerzas armadas brindan hermosos desfiles militares, todo acompañado de un hermoso espectáculo de fuegos artificiales.

En México se celebra el “Grito de Independencia” la noche del 15 de Septiembre y el Día de la Independencia el día 16. Se celebra con música, fuegos artificiales, desfiles escolares y militares. La primera vez que se dio el Grito de Independencia fue el 16 de Septiembre de 1810, cuando Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla al grito de: “Viva México!” Mientras toca una campana y se ondea la bandera Mexicana. Hoy en día el “Grito de Independencia” lo dan los presidentes municipales, gobernadores, presidente de México y fuera de México los Cónsules o Diplomáticos, seguido de la celebración.

El 18 de septiembre de 1810, Chile declaró su independencia de España. Hoy Chile celebra esta fecha con una semana de “fiestas patrias” con desfiles, rodeos, competencias de baile y comidas especiales.

El 15 de septiembre de 1821, Centroamérica proclamó también su independencia de España. Allí nacieron El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica y Honduras. Celebran las Fiestas Patrias el día 14 y 15 con desfiles, reuniones y competencias deportivas, vestidos de colores nacionales, bailes y desfile. Además en Centroamérica celebran con el “Recorrido de la Antorcha” que va desde Guatemala hasta Costa Rica, unos corredores llevan la humeante antorcha a lo largo de la ruta y niños uniformados los esperan.

En Nicaragua las fiestas Centroamericanas inician desde el primer día de Septiembre, terminan con la lectura del Acta de Independencia el día 15 de Septiembre. Las escuelas compiten con rítmicas bandas en sus festivales a lo largo del país.

En la Iglesia Metodista Unida en Arkansas nos unimos a estas celebraciones y cada año celebramos la herencia hispana con nuestros hermanos y hermanas. Hemos celebrado por años en nuestras iglesias PHUMC, St. Luke, Amboy, St. Andrew, Geyer Springs y otras más.

Y como un año es muy largo para celebrar solo una vez, tenemos también las fiestas del “Dia de Reyes” (Enero 6) , “Cinco De Mayo” (Mayo 5), “Día de Muertos” (Noviembre 2) e incorporamos la cultura latina a nuestras celebraciones de Navidad.… Todas las celebraciones contienen deliciosa comida, música, danzas regionales con coloridos vestidos. La cultura Latina es rica en fiestas colores y sabores, celebrando juntos tenemos la oportunidad de unirnos culturalmente con todos nuestros hermanos.

No quiero pasar solo la información, sin la invitación… así que los invitamos a celebrar con nosotros: Septiembre 16 a las 5 pm St. Andrew UMC, Septiembre 18 a las 5 pm Geyer Springs UMC.

In the U.S., we celebrate Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month from Sept. 15 – Oct. 15 and dedicate a full month to the celebration of the contributions that Latin cultures have made to our country. In this month, several Latin American countries celebrate their independence (Mexico, Chile, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras), an act that declares them independent countries of Spain.

These cultures celebrate independence in their own very special ways and with their own cultural ingredients, calling September the “Month of the Homeland.” Each country pays honor or tribute to its own heroes who contributed to their freedom as a country.

Latin American countries celebrate with music, dancing, food and parades of uniformed children from schools, and the armed forces provide beautiful military parades, all accompanied by a beautiful fireworks show.

In Mexico, the “Grito de Independencia” is celebrated on the night of Sept. 15 and Independence Day on Sept. 16. It is celebrated with music, fireworks, school and military parades.

The first “Grito de Independencia” was given on Sept. 16, 1810, when Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla shouted: “Long live Mexico!” while ringing a bell and waving the Mexican flag. Today the “Grito de Independencia” is given by the mayors, governors, president of Mexico and outside Mexico, the Consuls or Diplomats, followed by a celebration.

On Sept. 18, 1810, Chile declared its independence from Spain. Today Chile celebrates this date with a week of “national holidays” with parades, rodeos, dance competitions and special meals.

On Sept. 15, 1821, Central America also proclaimed its independence from Spain. These countries were El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras. They celebrate the National Holidays on the 14 and 15 with parades, meetings and sports competitions, dresses of national colors, dances and a parade.

Also in Central America they celebrate with the “Torch Tour” that runs from Guatemala to Costa Rica. Runners carry the smoking torch along the route and uniformed children await them. In Nicaragua, the Central American festivities begin from the first day of September and end with the reading of the Act of Independence on Sept. 15. Schools compete with rhythmic bands at their festivals throughout the country.

In the United Methodist Church in Arkansas, we join these celebrations and each year we celebrate Hispanic heritage with our brothers and sisters. For years, churches in the Central District have celebrated Hispanic heritage, including Pulaski Heights UMC, St. Luke Campus of PHUMC, Amboy UMC, St. Andrew UMC, Geyer Springs UMC and more.

And since a year is too long to wait to celebrate Hispanic culture, we also have the “Dia de Reyes” (“The Three Kings” on Jan. 6), “Cinco De Mayo” (May 5), “Día de Muertos” (“The Day of the Death” on Nov. 2) and we incorporate the Latin culture in our Christmas celebrations.

All celebrations contain delicious food, music, and regional dances with colorful dresses. Latin culture is rich in color and flavors; celebrating together, we have the opportunity to unite culturally with all our brothers and sisters.

For all of our Methodist churches in Arkansas who want to organize and celebrate the Hispanic-Latino Heritage Month, here are some ideas:

Incorporate traditional Hispanic music into your service, like: El Son de la Negra, Jarabe Tapatio, De Colores.
Serve delicious food like: Tamales, Guacamole, Tacos, Tostadas, Tortas
Decorate with Latino decorations in your church. You can find these in Latino stores in your area.
Play traditional games like Loteria and Toma Todo.

If you need help planning your Hispanic Heritage celebration, I am happy to help! Please contact the Rev. Lupita Chavarria at chavarrialupita@gmail.com. I also invite you to celebrate with us, 5 p.m. on Sept. 16 at St. Andrew UMC, and 5 p.m. on Sept. 18 at Geyer Springs UMC. We will have a celebration of Hispanic and Latin culture, with games, food, dancing and more!

Hispanic Heritage Month a time to celebrate culture, diversity of United Methodist Church

By Caleb Hennington

Digital Content Editor

Each year – from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 – people from all different backgrounds and nationalities come together to celebrate their Hispanic-Latino heritage during Hispanic Heritage Month.

According to HispanicHeritageMonth.gov, Hispanic Heritage Month is a celebration of “the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.”

Hispanic Heritage Month can trace its history all the way back to 1968 – a year that should be very familiar to those in the United Methodist Church – when President Lyndon Johnson proclaimed that Sept. 15 would be the beginning date of Hispanic Heritage Week.

President Johnson – through the signing of Proclamation 3869 on Sept. 17, 1968 – brought attention to the many outstanding improvements that people of Hispanic descent have contributed to the United States national heritage, through areas such as our national culture, business, science, and military service.

Later, in 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded Hispanic Heritage Week to encompass a 30-day period, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, inaugurating the official celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

Sept. 15 is not an insignificant date for those of Hispanic descent – it is the anniversary of independence for many Latin American countries including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile also celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively.

In the United Methodist Church, the contributions and importance of Hispanic church members also cannot be ignored.

In an article written for the Discipleship Ministries website, the Rev. Liana Perez-Felix of the Memphis Conference urges church members to avoid falling behind in Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations, noting again the astounding contributions that they have made to this nation. She also lays out some ways that churches can participate in the month-long celebration, including:
• a formal dinner with traditional cuisine and music from Hispanic-Latino countries that are represented in your congregation
• special worship services where elements of Hispanic-Latino culture are included
• guest speakers who focus on issues that Hispanics/Latinos are facing
• independence celebrations for the various Hispanic and Latino countries represented in your congregation
• sermons and Sunday school classes with Hispanic Heritage Month themes
• coloring books for children that show Hispanic-Latino heritage

In addition to celebrating the varied cultures that are already found in church congregations, there are also ways to reach out and build new congregations of Spanish-speaking and Hispanic churchgoers.

Through groups like the various Conference Hispanic/Latino Ministries and The General Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Churches are working to not only serve the needs of these communities, but to help grow vital and sustainable church homes for Spanish-speaking individuals as well.

Path 1 is one way that these groups are being reached within the UMC.

According to the Discipleship Ministries website, “Path 1 is a team of mission-driven, passionate and diverse leaders drawn from national, regional and local levels of the United Methodist Church, providing collaborative leadership to evangelize the United States through new congregations.”

In Arkansas, a Path 1 Hispanic Ministry Training course will be offered for those who wish to receive vital training that will help them to create new congregations of Spanish-speaking and Hispanic United Methodists.
The Rev. Jim Benfer, one of two clergy who will be leading training sessions at the Path 1 training courses this fall, sees a need in Arkansas for more churches to reach out to those Hispanic communities that have been forgotten in the past.

“Whether we realize it or not, here in Arkansas we have a large community of Spanish-speaking people, and they are often ignored when we talk about reaching new communities for the United Methodist Church,” Benfer said.

That’s the problem that Path 1 is hoping to fix. The training will take place at the Nueva Vida United Methodist Church in Dardanelle, Arkansas, and the curriculum will highlight key topics and tools that will help churches create more diverse, Spanish-speaking congregations.

The curriculum will include discussions on basic church planting information, basic structure and polity of the United Methodist Church, theology and spiritual disciplines that follow the Wesleyan tradition, creating action plans to reach communities, growing and multiplying ministries to build healthy church DNA, and more.

Training will take place in Spanish, with English translation also available.

The training dates for Path 1 are Sept. 15, 22 and 29; Oct. 27; Nov. 3 and 10; Dec. 1 and 8; and Jan. 5 and 12. All training dates are free of charge.

In addition to Rev. Benfer, the Rev. Vitalino Mendez will also be leading training sessions for these dates.

For more information on Path 1 training and how you can get involved in growing Hispanic and Spanish-speaking congregations in your community, contact Rev. Benfer at jim.benfer@arumc.org or call the Nueva Vida UMC office at (479) 229 – 3720.