Church marks Hispanic Heritage Month with Grand Celebration for Immigrant Children
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español
Servants of Christ, a United Methodist Church in Houston, opened its doors the evening of Monday, Sept. 14 and welcomed neighboring Latino children for an evening of fun and celebration. The event also heralded Hispanic Heritage Month, which starts Sept. 15 and continues through Oct. 15 each year.
The church was filled with games – basketball hoops, a Giant Connect Four and an area for rounds of musical chairs. Volunteers served up hot dogs and popcorn – and also handed out donated school supplies. Christian music played overhead.
“We got together to celebrate the word of God,” Pastor Roig Calzadilla Diaz said. “There was a lot of food -- and a lot of fun. As classes start, we wanted to do something special for the kids.”
He leads a Spanish service with his wife Pastor Yetel at the church on Sundays. During the past few months, the clergy couple has been brainstorming ways to bring joy to Latino children in the area and honor them before they return to school.
Many Latino families have struggled during the coronavirus pandemic, Diaz explained. There are also a number of immigrants who might not be able to obtain healthcare or aid due to their status.
He wanted to dedicate an entire evening to the children. “It would be a time to show our appreciation for them,” he said. “It’s important for us and important for God, no matter what their legal status is, to love our community.”
Diaz reached out to another church in the Texas Annual Conference to join the festivities –Nueva Creación at Glenbrook United Methodist Church and Pastor Yeni Bolufer – and the congregation jumped at the opportunity.
“They are only a few miles between us, and this is the first time we’ve joined to do something together,” Diaz said. “We are planning to do many more things together in the future.”
Bolufer said collaborating on the event made sense. “We wanted to participate in this collaboration with the Servants of Christ church to show our Christian brotherhood -- and to optimize our human resources and materials -- and the proximity of the two churches,” she added.
About 90 students showed up for the evening. “We believe it’s very important to celebrate these types of events with the children, because they are the future of the church, they are the missionaries of the church with their families,” Bolufer said. “We want them to know that we are interested in their whole well-being. They should know they are important to God and the church – and this is why we wanted to take the time and make them feel special.”
Participating in this type of event is essential, she explained. “Churches should serve our communities, especially the most vulnerable, like our children and adolescents who don’t always have time for fun and healthy games,” she said. “We want families to know that we are here to accompany them in their experiences.”
Diaz believes this type of outreach -- taking time to welcome and honor neighbors -- is an important role of the church. In addition, members were able to serve by rounding up donated school supplies.
“The church is part of the community – and we need to serve the community,” Diaz said. “We’re not just a building.”