‘For everyone born, a place at the table…’
--A Place at the Table by Shirley Erena Murray
The Holy Trinity gives us a model for life in community. Each person in the Trinity receives and gives. Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer: each is present with sacred worth. Each contributes. To interrupt the flow or become a block would be an offense to God’s action. I write today to explore inclusion more fully and celebrate our faithful siblings in Christ who identify as Hispanic or Latino.
September 15-October 15 is designated as Hispanic Heritage Month in The United Methodist Church, giving local congregations the opportunity to celebrate the gifts of the Hispanic culture in worship. As these weeks draw to a close, I invite you to take another step. Is there a Hispanic ministry your church might partner with? The Wisconsin Conference celebrates a robust Hispanic ministry with 26 new churches, equipping from the National Hispanic Plan, and the Instituto de Desarrollo Congregacional (IDC) which prepares those who are planting Hispanic churches. Pick up a The Book of Resolutions 2016 and become a student- advocate for Hispanic Americans and the global community.
The National Institutes of Health advocates that we celebrate the rich heritage and cultural contributions of people of the United States who trace their roots to Spain, to Mexico, and to the Spanish-speaking countries of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean. The NIH “calls on citizens of this nation from all walks of life to look around and welcome new voices to the table. This will help us build stronger communities and in turn, a stronger nation.” This year’s theme is Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation. Diversity is our strength. Hispanic contributions to the culture, the economy, and the future of the nation cannot be denied. This is a varied community, from many different areas and climates, and who speak many different dialects.
One way the Wisconsin Conference is living in solidarity with the Americas, is the Wisconsin Conference Partnership with the Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia and Bishop Antonio Huanca. This effort is channeled through the Board of Global Ministries and our chair, Rev. Anita Lang. Through Global Ministries we are aware of the current situation that the Methodist Church in Bolivia is living in, especially with the pandemic, COVID-19. Bolivia is a country in South America. Bolivia is one of the poorest and prettiest nations in South America. Poverty affects the majority of the population, with almost 40 percent of Bolivians living in extreme poverty. The Wisconsin Conference has been purchasing motorcycles so the Superintendents can cross the formidable terrain, carry medicine, and equip the local churches there. If you would like to contribute, we suggest marking your gifts to the Wisconsin Conference for the CHURCH PROJECT IN BOLIVIA ADVANCE # 00430S Vehicles for Evangelization. (The Yamaha Motorcycles Cost per Unit is $5,600.00.)
We are grateful for the saints who have led and built our Hispanic ministries, advocated for justice, and offer the mercy of a cup of cold water and more. Let’s be mindful of the need for immigration reform and sensible neighborliness of the kind Jesus proclaims. I need a place at the table. You need a place at the table. I see a day when for everyone born there is a place at the table. May it be so, with God’s help.
Know that I am praying for you. Thank you for your ministry.
Hee-Soo Jung, PhD
Bishop, Wisconsin Conference
Bishop Hee-Soo Jung has served as resident bishop of the Wisconsin Annual Conference since September of 2012. Prior to leading the Wisconsin Conference UMC, Bishop Jung served eight years as bishop of the Northern Illinois Conference (Chicago area).