We live in a world where it is necessary to continue to create sacred spaces where all feel welcome and accepted. It is beautiful to find that the United Church of Christ celebrates and embraces many different cultures. I believe that love transcends and unite us across this country as we listen to a God who is still speaking in the many languages and through many people.
Hispanics have had a profound influenced by this country. Since 1968, each year on September 15 to the 18th President Gerald R. Ford proclaimed the National Hispanic week. In 1989, the weeklong celebration became a month-long event from September 15 to October 15. September 15 and 16 is of great significance to many in the Hispanic community for it celebrates the independence day of Latin American countries such as Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Mexico and Chile. Different communities will acknowledge the contributions and gifts that Hispanics from different countries have brought to America.
Our Hispanic heritage is rich, full or colors, festivities, and celebrations. We are humble, hardworking individuals in America. Many of us are spiritual, religious and in search of honoring our culture with our traditions and life. We honor our ancestors and hold tightly to our culture through generations. We celebrate our birthdays with large parties and have milestones in our lives that we work hard to save money for, such as: Quinceañera, Baptisms, Confirmation, and communions. These events in our lives are planned in our minds and hearts from the time our children are born. But what happens when your Priest, Pastor, or church is in another country or is not open and affirming? For many of us, it might mean going back in the closet or agreeing to “tone it down” to negotiate with a local Parish to help us celebrate with our families.
Or perhaps, many Hispanics will think twice before walking into a place of worship. Even if the congregation might be United Church of Christ. Perhaps, they don’t know how welcoming and accepting that congregation and ministers are. Perhaps, they don’t think that a congregation can understand how these events in our lives are more than a cultural thing but are spiritually sacred.
At New Church, Chiesa Nuova, UCC we have made an effort to reach out to those who might know us by taking ministry outside the walls of our church to the people. For example, our clergy will participate in a Quinceañera held in a community center. As well as provided a Baptism service in a backyard of a family home while inviting all guests to participate in Holy Communion and fellowship.
This year, at The New Church, Chiesa Nuova, UCC, we will celebrate our Hispanic Heritage month and encourage many to do the same inside and outside the walls our church. During the National Hispanic Heritage month we will create opportunities on Sunday Mornings for members of Hispanic Heritage to assist with the readings, the music and sacraments showcasing our culture and traditions. At the end of the Hispanic Heritage month we will have a celebration where we invite all those who wish to participate to come dressed and represent their culture.
We are the United Church of Christ a denomination that celebrates the diversity and rich heritage of each congregation. I believe that justice is when we do more than invite people at the table, we make it readily available for many to participate with no barriers. Let us, this month, come together to learn, embrace and empower our Hispanic brothers and sisters inside and outside the wall of our church. Viva la Iglesia Unida de Cristo! Donde Dios habla todavia.