Unidos: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
By Patricia Peña
Every year, we observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. We use this month to highlight and celebrate the vast contributions and positive impact that people from South America, Central America, Mexico, and the Caribbean have brought to the United States by celebrating and uplifting these contributions and how they have shaped us.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson. President Ronald Reagan expanded it in 1988 to cover thirty days – beginning on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988, with the approval of Public Law 100-402.
This year’s National Hispanic American Employment Program theme is very fitting: “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation.” Ms. Ily Soares, the winner of this year’s theme submission, wrote: “One uniting factor within our Hispanic community is our desire to be included and represented in all aspects of American Society . . . We call 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.” 
National Hispanic Heritage Month offers a great opportunity to state boldly that Hispanics and Latins are not monochrome and cannot be boxed into a simple category. We come in all shades and styles, and our ministries are as vibrant as our vast cultural diversity.
To honor Hispanic Heritage Month at Discipleship Ministries, we will highlight the impactful ministry of several Latin communities within our United Methodist connection. Each ministry highlight will focus on one aspect of planting among the Latin community. We will highlight the different shades of our diverse ministries that vary in cultural backgrounds, outreach approach, social-economic groups, and multiple generations, each bringing a unique gift to the table.
We hope these spaces will allow for the voices and testimonies of these ministries to open spaces for Latin ministries and find common ground for partnership, representation, and inclusion. Each story will shed light on the transformational work our Latin communities are doing. As Ms. Ily Soares said, in turn, we can understand that we will become a more vital, stronger denomination by opening spaces to continue work within our Latin communities.
For more information and to stay in touch with all future projects involving Latin Ministries, please reach out to:
Rev. Patricia Pena
Dir. Diversity and Innovative Community Engagement, Path 1
Director, Hispanic/Latino Resourcing
“About National Hispanic Heritage Month,” National Hispanic Heritage Month Website, https://www.hispanicheritagemonth.gov/about.
 Nationalcouncilhepm.org, Announcements 2022 Theme https://nationalcouncilhepm.org/announcements#248ea6f1-025e-4891-afd9-b8805d959589.
Patricia Peña is the Director, Diversity & Innovative Community Engagement, with Path 1 at Discipleship Ministries.