Mauricio Chenlo, minister of Church Planting for Mennonite Mission Network, wrote this blog to celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, spanning Sept. 15-Oct. 15, 2020. He also shared how the celebration connects with the work of the mission agency's Sent Network, a leadership development resource for church planters and missional pastors.
The idea for Hispanic Heritage Month, celebrated throughout the latter half of September and first half of October in the United States, began to promote the history, culture, and contributions of Hispanic-Americans. Specifically that means those whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. During this month, communities mark the achievements of Hispanic and Latino Americans with festivals and educational activities.
Iberoamerica is a rich culture with hundreds of subcultures. Asian, African and European descendants reside throughout Latin American nations. There is a language that unites the continent, but racial diversity is found throughout the multi-faceted culture. We celebrate that peaceful diversity and racial integration.
That diversity and integration is part of the Mennonite Church USA family and its mission agency, Mennonite Mission Network. Everywhere within this wider church, Latin American brothers and sisters work side by side with other groups from different cultures. Having said that, however, we still have a long way to go here in the United States. Diversity and integration are still slowly developing. But we lose no hope. By planting churches of peace in which all nations meet under the same God and strive to love one another, we hope to be a good soil where these seeds can grow.
At Mission Network, we celebrate the opportunity to engage with partners here in the United States and the rest of Iberoamerica. During the summer in my ministry through the Sent Network, I had the privilege of working with 27 leaders from diverse backgrounds and national identities: Colombia, Ecuador, Argentina, and the United States.
The Sent Network is a leadership development resource for church planters and missional pastors. Leaders walk together through three natural evolving phases in the call to plant churches: Explore; Equip; and Send.
Most participants in this summer's Sent program requested coaching after completing these stages. Each national partner expressed desire to customize and adapt Sent Network to their own needs and realities. At Mission Network, we are hopeful that many of these Sent participants respond to the call to be a transforming presence in the world through planting peace churches.
Pray for leaders in Iberoamerica who will respond to the call to plant peace churches and engage in a Sent Network that will unite and makes us stronger.