Members of the Hispanic and Latin communities in the town of Hernando can now find connections to their unique heritage in the first known Hispanic church in Hernando.
Iglesia Gracia Internacional is located at 111 East Commerce Street, in the old CrossPointe Church. The Hispanic Congregation is a church plant of Brown Missionary Baptist Church.
On Saturday, the Latin-centric Body of Christ prepared to welcome residents, families and friends to recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month at the church.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is celebrated from September 15 to October 15, recognizing the stories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America.
The sighting began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was extended by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period beginning September 15 and ending October 15. It was promulgated on August 17, 1988.
Jaime Loayza is the pastor of Iglesia Gracia Internacional and serves, with his wife and their children, to reflect Jesus Christ in the world.
“We are the first Latino church in Hernando,” Loayza said. “Serenith is my wife. I am from Lima, Peru. Last Sunday we started our first Sunday service.
Loayza said he was delighted to serve in a church with a traditional architecture similar to that of his hometown. He added that he was also the first Latino pastor to run the historic building.
DeSoto County Museum Director Robert Long was visiting the celebration and said the property was part of the museum grounds.
“Before there was an Anglo pastor and it was a Presbyterian church,” said Loayza, one of whose ministries is the Baptist denomination. “We are a daughter church of Brown MB Church.”
The church held a lively gathering with bounce houses, music, and lots of fellowship as followers of Christ. Loayza said that Hernando has more than 1,000 Hispanic and Latino populations.
“Usually most people have to get to Memphis, sometimes forty minutes, very far,” Loayza explained. “We want to give them a place here so they can come and worship God.”
The church has been organizing services for two months and already has 20 in the congregation. Laoyza said he and his congregation prayed for God’s promise to “build his church.”
“We’re working on what he’s called us to do,” said Laoyza, who attended seminary in Argentina and is currently enrolled at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, continuing his master’s degree.
The name of the church translates to International Grace Church. Members wore white T-shirts with the church logo and the mission statement in Spanish.
Crecemos, Vivimos, y Amamos, the mission statement of the church, means “We grow in the knowledge of God, we live the Gospel and we love the community and the Word through the missions and the Great Commission”, according to Laoyza.
Serenith is using her skills as a translator to soon lead ESL or ESL courses in partnership with Longview Point Baptist Church in Hernando.
On October 29, ESL courses will start at Iglesia Gracia de Dios.
“There is a need here, because of a lot of different people coming from a lot of different countries,” Serenith said. “We have people from Morocco, China, Pakistan, but also from Mexico, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala and Colombia.
Serenith says other volunteers are also helping with classes by helping with each student’s pronunciations and dialects.
The church wants Hispanic residents to know that there is a place of worship in Hernando where they can feel connected to God and His people in the face of language barriers and perceived biases.
“They’re looking for a family, they’re looking for a community, they’re looking for a place that reminds them of where they came from,” Laoyza added.
For more information on English as a Second Language, see below:
Nuestra directora de ESL es una traductora de profesión y certificada en classes de ESL, ademas contamos con an incomparable group of voluntarios that you ayudarán in a rápido aprendizaje como muchos ya dan testimonio ello.
Las classes comienzan el 29 de Octubre at 6:00 pm in the Iglesia Gracia Internacional – 111 E Commerce St Hernando, MS 38632.
Emocionados por ver nuevamente a nuestros alumnos! No vemos!
More information al 662-404-0710.