VCS Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month
Valley Christian Schools is committed to more fully embracing the vision of racial and ethnic diversity that we read in Revelation 7:9 and in our Biblical Unity Statement. Amplifying the voices of our Latina/o brothers and sisters is the first step toward this Kingdom vision. Starting in September, as part of our celebration of #HispanicHeritageMonth, we want to commemorate how Hispanic communities—specifically, those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America—have influenced and contributed to American society and the church.
Every year from September 15 to October 15, Americans mark the achievements of Hispanic and Latina/o Americans with festivals and educational activities appreciating the community’s history, heritage, and contributions. Hispanic influences are tightly woven into the fabric of American life — think music, food, art, cinema, politics, literature, and so much more. Around one-fifth of the U.S. population is Hispanic, and California has the largest Hispanic and Latino population, with over 14 million. Here in San Jose, we can all learn and benefit from a greater understanding of our Hispanic community.
Hispanic Heritage Month started with one week of commemoration when California Congressman George E. Brown first introduced it in June 1968. With the civil rights movement, the need to recognize the contributions of the Latin community gained traction. He aimed to acknowledge the integral roles of these communities in American history. Observation of Hispanic Heritage Week started in 1968 under President Lyndon B. Johnson and was later extended to a 30-day celebration by President Ronald Reagan, beginning on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law via approval of Public Law 100-402 on August 17, 1988.
Hispanic Heritage Month is split over two months, starting on September 15. That is when five Latin American countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—earned their independence from Spain in 1821. Mexico, Chile, and Belize became independent from Spain and the United Kingdom on September 16, 18, and 21. So, September 15 was the start date when the celebration was extended to a month-long event.
These are just a few Hispanic and Latina/o Christian leaders impacting the church today. We celebrate the ways God is using them to impact our world.
Alexia Salvatierra: The Rev. Dr. Alexia Salvatierra is the Academic Dean of the Centro Latino at Fuller Theological Seminary and the Assistant Professor of Integral Mission and Global Transformation.
Marcos Canales: Marcos has been church planting amongst the Latina community of the greater Los Angeles area for the last ten years. He has worked with non-profit community organizations in urban youth development, mentorship, and immigration advocacy. Currently, Marcos is the pastor of La Fuente Ministries—a bilingual, intercultural, and intergenerational ministry of Pasadena First Church of the Nazarene.
Tina Colon Williams: Tina is an attorney practicing immigration law, a minister and pastor’s wife who is passionate about cross-cultural community, and a musician who believes in the power of songs to change the world. She is the Worship Pastor at Elm City Vineyard and an artist at Vineyard Worship which you can listen to here.
HOW TO OBSERVE HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH
Here are four quick ideas to spark your imagination.
1. Start learning Spanish. We all learned a little bit in school, so why not go all the way? Try DuoLingo, available for iPhone and Android.
2. Learn more from the Library of Congress National Hispanic Heritage Month website: https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/
3. Celebrate at local events in San Jose: https://www.sanjose.org/hispanic-heritage-month-san-jose
4. Join an educational or cultural event current at San José State University: https://www.sjsu.edu/mosaic/programs/latinxheritagemonth.php
A great way to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month is through reading, which can enhance our understanding of Hispanic culture's feelings, beliefs, and experiences.
● Brown Church by Robert Chao Romero
● Mañana: Christian Theology From a Hispanic Perspective by Justo Gonzalez
● Abuelita Faith by Kat Armas
● Being Latino in Christ: Finding Wholeness in Your Ethnic Identity by Orlando Crespo
● Paula: A Memoir by Isabel Allende
● The Library Babel by Jorge Luis Borges
● I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sánchez
● Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
● Under the Feet of Jesus by Helena Maria Viramontes
● Dreamers by Yuyi Morales
● Harvesting Hope: The Story of Cesar Chavez by Kathleen Krull
● Islandborn by Junot Díaz
EXPLORE CULTURAL DIVERSITY AT VALLEY
Join Valley Christian Schools in engaging, reading, listening, and exploring the rich diversity of Hispanic Heritage Month! Look for events our students and community are planning in the campus newsletters.
If you’re a student, check out all the scholarships available for Hispanic students https://www.forbes.com/advisor/student-loans/scholarships-for-latino-and-hispanic-students.
Check out our VCS Cultural and Heritage Month calendar of cultural and ethnic heritage celebrations each month throughout this academic year.
DID YOU KNOW?
Hispanic refers to a person who is from, or a descendant of someone who is from, a Spanish-speaking country.
Latina/o refers to a person who has roots in Latin American nations, which include not only Spanish-speaking communities but also Portuguese-speaking (Brazil) as well.
Gracious Heavenly Father, we thank You for our wondrous diversity, for our cultures,
Traditions, and languages, for all the ways we celebrate our humanity and praise Your divinity. We value all people and celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month during this time. May we remember in our churches the leaders, teachers, and theologians that have been part of our Christian faith tradition. May we continue to hear from diverse voices that speak the truth of God's love, peace, and justice for all peoples. We thank you today for the many contributions Hispanic Americans have made - and continue to make -to our country. Please guide us in ways of new understandings to build a more inclusive school and community. We pray in the name of Christ Jesus, our Savior, and Friend. Amen.
FOR MORE INFORMATION
Look for monthly cultural and heritage celebration updates. Contact Dr. Steven J. McGriff, Director of Biblical Unity
“C4SO Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month 2021 |.” C4SO, The Diocese of Churches for the Sake of Others. https://c4so.org/c4so-celebrates-hispanic-heritage-month-2021/
“Hispanic Heritage Month Prayers.” Prayers, The Center for Mission and Identity at Xavier University https://www.xavier.edu/jesuitresource/online-resources/prayer-index/hispanic-heritage-month-prayers
Hispanic Heritage Month is a federal government collaborative website project of the Library of Congress and the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and U.S. National Archives and Records Administration. https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/