Racial Reconciliation

“Will you seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving your neighbor as yourself? Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?”

Hispanic Heritage Month from the perspective of the Office of Latino/Hispanic Ministries 

September 7, 2022
Racial Reconciliation

By The Rev. Samuel Borbon

Each year, the United States observes National Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic Heritage Month recognizes and celebrates the contributions and culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans to our nation and society. This is celebrated from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.  

The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. It was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover 30 days and was enacted into law on Aug. 17, 1988.  

September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on Sept. 16 and Sept. 18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day, or Día de la Raza, on Oct. 12, falls within these 30 days.  

In the church, it’s a time to remember and acknowledge the contributions that our elders in ministry have bequeathed to us. We also take the opportunity to highlight the contributions of some of our leaders and ministries across the entire church. For example, last year, the Office of Latino/Hispanic Ministries interviewed four Latino families who are doing ministry or have been involved in various ministry areas across the church. We chose these families because the children are “preachers’ kids,” yet they are strongly involved in the life of the church with their own distinct ministries. We wanted to show how their faith, love for our church, and sense of ministry was passed on by their parents.  

The Hispanic Heritage Month celebration is an opportunity to remind the church that Latino ministry is not an outreach ministry. Latin@s over the last five decades have brought their love of Jesus, passion for ministry, vibrant music, and energetic worship to our church–and with all that, an evangelistic spirit that is breathing new life into The Episcopal Church. Latino ministry is the fastest growing segment of The Episcopal Church, yet our work to uplift and recognize the contributions of Latin@s in the church is still uphill. The church is moving, but we are far from where we need to be. Out of 112 dioceses in the U.S.A., only four have bishops with Latino heritage. In addition, only 16 dioceses have either a full- or part-time diocesan Latino missioner position. There is so much to do to initiate and enhance our existing Latino congregations, and many dioceses rely on volunteers who typically have other full-time jobs and are overworked.  

In spite of these limitations, Latinos love their newfound spiritual home and are offering their gifts to support the life and ministry of The Episcopal Church. They also want to see it grow and are inviting their friends and families. Everywhere you will see children and youth. Truly these are things we can be thankful for and celebrate during Hispanic Heritage Month. 

The Rev. Samuel Borbon is the Associate Missioner for Latino/Hispanic Ministries.