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Journey with the Latinx community

HYLA serves the Latinx community

God is at work in the Latinx community in Michigan. Sonya Luna offers ways the United Methodist Church can be blessed and a blessing in ministry with Latinx neighbors


SONYA LUNA

Coordinator of Latinx Ministries Michigan Conference

In 2020, I ended my term as a National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries with some reflection. To be honest, I never did like the term “missionary” because of the baggage that term holds, and the assumptions that were made when people heard that term. People often assumed that I worked abroad in another country and that the work I did was only my work to do.

As a missionary, I worked in my home state of Michigan. From 2008-2013, I served with the Detroit Conference, and then in 2013, I started in ministry with both the Detroit Conference and the West Michigan conferences.

Since 2008, I know I was called to guide and encourage others to be in ministry with Hispanics/Latinos in Michigan. See, the United Methodist Church in Michigan has missed being in ministry with multiple generations of Hispanics/Latinos in Michigan. The UMC in Michigan has missed out on the gifts, talents, leadership, and culture of the Hispanic/Latino community. And the Hispanic/Latino community has missed out on the message of the United Methodist Church. The community has missed out on the message of grace and an open communion table.

I am no longer serving as a missionary. I am now the Coordinator for Latinx Ministries for the Michigan Conference, and my passion is still strong. I still believe that local churches in the Michigan Conference can be a blessing to the Latinx community in Michigan and vice versa; the Latinx Community can be a blessing to the local churches.

I look around and ask why aren’t there more local churches that are in ministry with the migrant farmworkers in the state? I come from a family of migrant farmworkers. My grandfather worked in the fields until he got a job at the Pontiac car factory in Pontiac, MI. My father worked in the fields during the summer.

I look around and ask, why are there not more Latinx leaders, lay and clergy, in the Michigan Conference? Did you know there has not been one Latinx District Superintendent in the history of the United Methodist Church in Michigan?

I look around and wonder. Can we see Christ in our Latinx brothers and sisters? Can we give up power to let others in? Can we get salsa on the carpet? Can we recognize the trauma and the pain that the Church has caused people of color and move in the direction of healing? Can we understand the complicated identities that we Latinx people have and be able to accept us for who we are?

How can we partner with the Latinx community where God is already working? I look and wonder. I have been working with the Conference Committee on Hispanic/Latino Ministries to provide resources, training, and support to local churches that would like to be in ministry with the Latinx community. Will you join us in this journey? We invite you!

HYLA helps Latinx young people grow
Sonya Luna congratulates Nelly Bermudez, a graduate of the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy who completed three years of participation in HYLA in 2019. In 2021 HYLA is being offered as a three-day virtual experience. ~ photo courtesy Sonya Luna

Ways to Join the Journey:

Learn: Learn more about the Latinx Community in Michigan

  1. Latinx in Detroit; see the video
  2. Mexicans and Mexican Americans in Michigan (Discovering the Peoples of Michigan) by Rudolph V. Alvarado (Author), Sonya Yvette Alvarado (Author)
  3. Latinos in Michigan (Discovering the Peoples of Michigan)  by David A. Badillo · 2003

Act: 

  1. Tell Latinx youth about the Hispanic Youth Leadership Academy (HYLA). A place for High-School Youth to come together and develop tools for leadership and put faith into action. At HYLA participants learn tools for leadership development and college. HYLA explains how to use your church experience in your college preparation. Learn how to write a college essay and how to look for scholarships. The three-day experience involves: 
    • Day One: Faith and Social Justice
    • Day Two: What are your vocation and call?
    • Day Three: Importance of Higher Education                                                                                                                                                   

      HYLA is free. Go online via Zoom, June 23-25, 2021, 9:00 am to 12:30 pm. Click here to register. For information contact Sonya Luna at sluna@michiganumc.org.

  2. Support Migrant Children that are in Michigan. 240 Migrant Children from the Mexican/USA border have been brought to Michigan and are staying at Starr Commonwealth in Albion. Learn more in this article in the Detroit Free Press. You can support the children by donating items on Starr Commonwealth’s wish list. Find more information here