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Celebrating Hispanic/Latino heritage

Family worship part of Sonya Luna's heritage.

Sonya Luna celebrates her own growing up and encourages others to participate in Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month.

Coordinator Hispanic/Latino Ministry, Michigan Conference

I grew up in the United Methodist Church. When people ask me how long I have been a United Methodist, I say the number that reflects my age.

Celebrating heritage at VBS
A Virtual Children’s Summer Program was hosted at Centro Familiar Cristiano UMC in Detroit. ~ photo courtesy Sonya Luna

Recently, I realized that going to church is a tradition that my father and I have always done together. I remember going to church with my dad when I was a teenager. When we worship in person, we still sit in the same pew to this day. Yes, that is something that we should probably change. Growing up, I did not notice that my family was one of only a few Latino families that were members of the church. Only when I worked at my home church, as the Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministries, did I start to notice that my family was one of the first Hispanic/Latino families to attend that church.

Pastor Patty Gandarilla at VBS
Rev. Patricia Gandarilla gives out snacks at a family event at the Centro Familiar Cristiano UMC as part of the Children’s Summer Program. ~ photo courtesy Sonya Luna

During my time as Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministries at my local church, more Hispanic/Latino families started to join the church, and the church began to incorporate Hispanic/Latino traditions and celebrations into their church life. I enjoyed the fact that my Hispanic/Latino heritage was not just a part of my family celebrations, but it was part of my church life as well.  

You can also celebrate Hispanic/Latino heritage at your local church. Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month is celebrated every year from September 15 to October 15. Hispanic Heritage month started in 1989 when President George H. W. Bush issued a Presidential Proclamation. Hispanic/Latino begins in the middle of September to mark the many Latin American Countries Independence Days in September.

Health kits distributed in Holland.
Misión Holland Team Praying Before Passing Out Health Kits. ~ photo courtesy Sonya Luna

You can celebrate Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month in several ways at your local church. You can share a video during your online service about Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month. You can learn about Hispanic/Latino Theology and share insights from it in your message. You can share about Hispanic/Latino Heritage as part of your Sunday School curriculum. I put together a list of resources for Hispanic/Latino Heritage Month that you can find in the Hispanic/Latino Ministries Toolbox. I collaborated with the Rev. Kathy Pittenger to develop a playlist of resources for Children’s Ministry that you can also find on the Michigan Conference Website.  Find it here: Children’s Ministry Playlist.

Health Kit distribution.
Rev. Daniel Flores Passing Out Health Kits in Holland. ~ photo courtesy Sonya Luna

There is much to celebrate here in the Michigan Conference when it comes to Hispanic/Latino Ministries! During these past six months, more than 500 health kits were given to farmworkers in the Holland Area. More than 50 children participated in a virtual four-week summer program in Southeast Michigan. Dairy farmworkers were supported in Mid-Michigan. There were also two webinar series for young adults that participated from all across the state.

It is a blessing to continue to work for the Michigan Conference, now, as the Coordinator of Hispanic/Latino Ministries, and to celebrate the Hispanic/Latino culture. It is important to celebrate and learn about different cultures because only then can we truly become the beloved community.