Hispanic Heritage Month is observed September 15 to October 15, annually. It is a time to appreciate and celebrate the colorful cultures, rich histories and variety of the American Latino community.

For The Wesleyan Church (TWC), the celebration is more than a month on the calendar. Our Hispanic sisters and brothers are a significant and growing part of our Wesleyan family!

I was privileged to give leadership to the Wesleyan Seminary (WS) team at Indiana Wesleyan University (IWU) during its formative years. An early step of faith — led by Dr. Joanne Solis Walker — was to initiate a WS Spanish-language program. Those early cohorts of amazing students came from across North America and throughout Ibero-America.

My wife Jan and I hosted each new cohort in our home to enjoy dinner together. While our grasp of the Spanish language was limited, the joy and energy cohort members brought was contagious. A source of laughter for them and learning for me was how often they would “translate” for each other — I came to understand and appreciate the differences in Spanish language based on nationality.

Beginning with a single cohort of 10 Hispanic students in March 2011, the second year of Wesley Seminary’s existence, Hispanic student enrollment has grown to 140 students, 26% of the student body! Alumni are providing leadership in education and ministry in North America and globally. New students continue to enrich the seminary learning environment.

Over 230 students participate in FLAMA, providing foundational ministry education for those serving in local church and marketplace contexts. We’re also seeing growing numbers of Hispanic students at our WE5 universities. This ongoing leadership development is resulting in forward movement for TWC. No wonder we ordained a growing number of Hispanic ministers this year!

One of the joys of working at the headquarters of The Wesleyan Church is interacting with Hispanic colleagues — Nestor (church multiplication), Johel (discipleship), and Jasmin, Josmar and Kristel (administration). These days, I work even more closely with Rev. Johanna Rugh, elected as a general officer of The Wesleyan Church in May 2022.

As the executive director of Education and Clergy Development, Johanna enriches our movement through her spiritual and leadership capacities. Her cross-cultural understanding was nurtured growing up in Costa Rica and Spain, and throughout her adult years in a breadth of ministry experiences in North America.

When personal fellowship combines with missional leadership, the kingdom of God is advanced. At General Conference 2022, a Hispanic Connectional Movement roundtable of Hispanic leaders gathered for “iron sharpening iron” conversations about disciples making disciples, leadership development, church planting and marketplace ministry.

Almost 20% of the North American population identifies as Hispanic or Latino. At the roundtable, a map of North America was a significant focal point, as each participant assessed the Hispanic mission field in their district. Another significant TWC leadership moment occurred when our district superintendents gathered around them as North Carolina East District Superintendent Jonathon Lewis prayed in Spanish over them for an accelerating disciple-making movement across North America.

 Actually, this is a North American and global movement! Our Ibero-American sisters and brothers are reaching the Central and South American nations around them, while leading the way in sending missionaries to all the nations of the world.

And so, we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month … a celebration that is enriched and intensified as a Hispanic holiness movement is expanding Everywhere to Everywhere for the glory of God.  We daily celebrate our Hispanic brothers and sisters, grateful for their dedication, giftings and missional ministries. We belong to a rich and wonderful Wesleyan family!

Continue the Hispanic heritage celebration by reading “El sabor Latino” (“The Latin flavor”) and “Evaluating the past, reaching for the future” (Spanish and English).

Dr. Wayne Schmidt is General Superintendent of The Wesleyan Church.