People of the Hispanic and Latin communities in the city of Hernando can now find connections with their unique heritage at the first known Hispanic church in Hernando.
Iglesia Gracia Internacional is located at 111 East Commerce Street, in the former CrossPointe Church. The Hispanic congregation is a church plant of Brown Missionary Baptist Church.
On Saturday the Latin-centric body of Christ was preparing to welcome residents, families and friends to recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month at the church.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is observed from September 15 to October 15, recognizing the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America.
The observation started in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.
Jaime Loayza is the pastor of Iglesia Gracia Internacional and serves, along with his wife and their children, all to reflect Jesus Christ back into the world.
“We are the first Latino church in Hernando,” said Loayza. “Serenith is my wife. I am originally from Lima, Peru. Last Sunday we started with our first Sunday worship.”
Loayza said he is delighted to serve in a church building that has traditional architecture similar to his hometown. He added that he is also the first Latino pastor to lead in the historical building.
DeSoto County Museum Director Robert Long was visiting the celebration and said the property is part of the museum grounds.
“Before there was an Anglo pastor and this was a Prebyterian church,” said Loayza, whose one ministry is Baptist denomination. “We are a daughter church of Brown M.B. Church.”
The church held a lively gathering with bounce houses, music and lots of fellowship as followers of Christ. Loayza said Hernando has over 1,000 Hispanic and Latino populations.
“Usually most people have to travel to Memphis, sometimes forty minutes, far away,” explained Loayza. “We want to offer them a place here so they can come and worship God.”
The church has been holding services for two months and already counts 20 in the congregation. Laoyza said he and his congregation are praying for God’s promise to “build his church.”
“We are working on what he called us to do,” said Laoyza, who studied seminary in Argentina and is currently enrolled in Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kentucky, pursuing his masters.
The church’s name itself translates to International Grace Church. Members were donning white T-shirts with the church’s logo and mission statement in Spanish.
Crecemos, Vivimos, y Amamos, the church’s mission statement, means “We are growing in the knowledge of God, We are living the Gospel and we are loving the community and the Word through missions and the Great Commission,” according to Laoyza.
Serenith is using her talents as a translator to soon lead classes that teach ESL or English as a Second Language in partnership with Longview Point Baptist Church in Hernando.
On October 29, the ESL classes will begin at Iglesia Gracia de Dios.
“There is a need here, because of many different people coming from many different countries,” said Serenith. “ We have people from Morocco, China, Pakistan, also from Mexico, Venezuela, Honduras, Guatemala and Columbia.”
Serenith says other volunteers also help with the classes in helping with pronunciations and individual student’s dialects.
The church wants Hispanic residents to know there is a place of worship in Hernando when they can feel connected to God and his people in the face of language barriers and perceived prejudices.
“They are looking for a family, they are looking for a community, they are looking for a place that reminds them of where they left,” 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 clases de ESL, ademas contamos con un incomparable grupo de voluntarios que te ayudarán en un rápido aprendizaje como muchos ya dan testimonio ello.
Las clases comienzan el 29 de Octubre a las 6:00pm en la Iglesia Gracia Internacional - 111 E Commerce St Hernando, MS 38632.
Emocionados por ver nuevamente a nuestros alumnos! Nos vemos!
Más información al 662-404-0710.