Celebrating Hispanic Heritage
BY CARRIE MADREN
Hispanic Heritage Month gained official, national stature in 1988 under the Reagan Administration, said the Rev. Edgardo Rivera, a Washington Region Guide and a leader of Hispanic/Latino ministries within the Baltimore-Washington Conference.
The Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 month of observance encompasses national independence celebrations of major Latin American countries. This year, it also marked the Conference’s fourth annual Hispanic Heritage worship service and celebration, held Oct. 3 at Millian Memorial UMC in Rockville, where the Rev. Braulio Torres serves as associate pastor and has begun Hispanic and Latino ministries.
The Oct. 3 celebration service coincided with World Communion Sunday, and took place entirely in Spanish, although English translation was available. Some 140 worshippers from Millian and other churches joined in song, prayer and Communion, and heard a message delivered by a special guest, the Rev. Ediberto Lopez, a General Board of Global Ministries missionary assigned to the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico.
Lopez’s message focused on building community in the midst of anti-community sentiments, and touched on issues of immigration.
“Community-building requires a spirituality that is not fleeing from the world, but engaged,” said Lopez, who highlighted the Scripture about Jesus’ teaching about the mustard seed.
Lopez said that a lot can happen with one little seed of faith that stirs conversation and service.
“Community-building needs Christians as people of good will that are like the mustard seed,” he said, people who ask questions.
As part of The United Methodist Church, each person can become one of those seeds, Rivera said.
After worship, a fellowship time served up Latin food, as well as music by the Rev. Lydia Munoz.
This special service was part of a larger, growing Hispanic/Latino group within the Baltimore-Washington Conference. “We are here, and we want to strengthen the presence of Hispanics in the conference, and collaborate,” Rivera said.