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Area’s Hispanic-Latino Committee decries hate

The Michigan Area Hispanic-Latino Committee calls churches to be safe welcoming places for all.

SONYA LUNA
Director of Latino-Hispanic Ministries/Michigan Area

I am a missionary with the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries.

Hispanics/Latinos have a long history in the state of Michigan. Mexican workers, like my father’s family, migrated here from places like Texas to work in the fields in the summer. My dad has stories from his childhood, when he worked in the orchards and got sick from eating too many cherries. Today Latinos work in the dairy farms in Lower Michigan. Latino and Latina engineers work in the car industries and there is even a Mexican Town in Southeast Detroit. Hispanics/Latinos have contributed and still are contributing to Michigan as professionals, such as teachers, lawyers, realtors, health care givers and clergy.

Currently, the Hispanic/Latino population in Michigan is 4.9% of the total population. Hispanic/Latinos are our neighbors and my dream is that the United Methodist churches in Michigan will continue to reach out and be in ministry with them.      

For that reason, I am very concerned about the actions against the Latino/Hispanic community and other racial/ethnic/religious communities in Michigan that have been taking place since the election. I saw a Detroit Free Press article that shared a report done by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The report states that, “Michigan had the highest number of hate incidents among states in the mid-west in the ten days following the November 8 election.” The report continues, “There were at least 40 incidents involving bias against African Americans, Latinos, immigrants, Jews, Muslims, LGBT, and others in Michigan in the period following the contentious election.” This is very troubling.

The members of The Michigan Area Conference Committee on Hispanic/Latino Ministries are also concerned. At their last committee meeting they put together this statement:

The Michigan Area Hispanic Latino Committee expresses great concern over the increasing levels of harassment, bullying, and prejudice occurring toward Hispanic/Latinos and other ethnic groups. We value the diverse and multi-ethnic communities of Michigan, both immigrants and native born citizens. We are asking The United Methodist Church in Michigan to set a priority for caring, advocating and providing a welcoming and safe place for these vulnerable brothers and sisters.

El Comité Hispano Latino del Área de Michigan expresa su gran preocupación por los niveles crecientes de acoso, intimidación y prejuicios que continúan ocurriendo hacia los hispanos / latinos y otros grupos étnicos desde las elecciones presidenciales. Como comunidad que representa y ha estado en el ministerio con hispanos y latinos, tanto inmigrantes como ciudadanos nacidos en el país, valoramos las comunidades diversas y multiétnicas en Michigan. A partir de hoy, estamos especialmente preocupados por los niños hispanos / latinos y multiétnicos que son los más vulnerables a la intimidación y el acoso. Pedimos a la Iglesia Metodista Unida en el área Michigan que establezca una prioridad para cuidar, abogar y proporcionar un lugar acogedor y seguro para estos hermanos y hermanas vulnerables. 

The Committee hopes that United Methodist churches in Michigan will speak out against actions of hate and discrimination. We also ask that action steps be taken. 

  • Have conversations with people in your community;
  • Reach out to school districts;
  • Learn more about the Hispanic/Latino culture and community;
  • Develop faith communities, children’s ministries, and/or other outreach ministries.

My missionary training included learning how to develop faith communities. Such faith communities are usually held in people’s homes and those in the neighborhood are invited to come and join in Bible sharing, prayer, worship, and fellowship. We believe people, at first, feel more comfortable going to a friend’s house rather than a church. People meeting in the houses may eventually become a part of the church family.

This is my vision, that Hispanics/Latinos will become a greater part of the United Methodist Church family in Michigan.We encourage congregations to partner with the Hispanic/Latino community to create safe and welcoming places that promote a message of love. We need places where people are valued and respected, not just for our Latino/Hispanic neighbors but for everyone. 

Resources:

Click here to read the Detroit Free Press article.

Click here for information from Michigan United for building more welcoming and inclusive communities.

The United Methodist Young People’s Division statement about responding to Racism and Sexism at events. Read here

More Information about developing Hispanic/Latino Ministries: contact Sonya Luna; sluna@detroitconference.org or 313-720-6153. 

 

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