What’s the hype about LaHYPE?

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With its recent gathering during the last weekend in August, there has been a lot of talk about LaHYPE on social media and among young Hispanic/Latino people.

“LaHYPE stands for Latin American Hispanic Young People’s Ecclesiola,” said Keren Sasil Rodriguez, a young LaHYPE coordinator. “The Western Jurisdiction LaHYPE is a community of young people across the Western Jurisdiction of the [United] Methodist Church with core values such as inclusiveness and social holiness.”

According to Rodriguez, the word “ecclesiola” comes from “ecclesia” with the idea of the small church reforming the bigger church.

LaHYPE started last year during the MARCHA 2014 gathering in Los Angeles, California.

“It was the initiative of five young people,” said Rodriguez. “Among them were Natalia Olivares (Desert South West), Edward Cesar (California-Pacific), Jose “Yayo” Morales (California-Pacific), and myself from the Oregon-Idaho Conference. We had the Support and mentorship of Rev. Brenda Vaca.”

LaHYPE’s vision statement is to create a deeper relationship with God and rise up for social change. It is a movement by young people for young people.

“I was the LaHYPE coordinator, which included different responsibilities,” said Rodriguez. “As we organized ourselves into a horizontal structure, we decided to take away the role of the coordinator.”

As displayed on the tool sheet for the organization, “Individual members of LaHYPE will take on specific responsibilities as they feel called, stepping in and out of those responsibilities based upon their own calling. While we step into responsibilities, we also commit to maintaining horizontal relationships within our Ecclesiola. In those responsibilities, we will commit to learning from and mentoring our fellow members.”

“Therefore, we create space for young people to rise up in the areas that God is calling them to.” said Rodriguez.

Although LaHYPE has been together for about ten months, the movement has made an impact.

“We have shared the knowledge with young people and have become community organizers based on our own beliefs as Methodists and as followers of Jesus Christ.” said Rodriguez.

She goes on to say that, LaHYPE has decided to reach everyday youth leaders and members of local Hispanic/Latino churches who have a call to do social holiness.

“In the process of our own organizing, youths have identified their own call to ministry and have identified their own social struggles in their communities and have decided to act on it.” Said Rodriguez.

At the end of August, LaHYPE had a jurisdiction wide gathering in Denver, Colorado with young people and mentors from different cities and states. The biblical reflection for the weekend was based on Exodus and the movement of God’s people walking towards liberation. The workshop tied in with social holiness as a spiritual practice.

“We also received a training on immigration by a community organization called Movimiento Cosecha,” said Rodriguez. “As Hispanic youths for the Western Jurisdiction, we have identified that immigration is a main issue that is hitting each of our communities.”

Rodriguez says that her favorite par about being involved in LaHYPE is seeing her friends, who she considers family, becoming more self-aware of who they are in their own communities and that they are fighting to challenge the status quo in their settings.

“I also like the unity we have,” said Rodriguez. “I believe it is essential that we see ourselves as the body of Jesus. I love to see how God works with these young people, but at the same time works with our adult mentors in the idea of bringing hope and faith to our communities.”

Rodriguez hopes to see more young Hispanic/Latinos working with the communities and acting together to make a change in society.

“I believe that from our Methodist traditions, it is important that we work with young people in this way,” said Rodriguez. “I hope to see a greater understanding of who the Hispanic/Latino community is in our own Methodist Church.”

LaHYPE has multiple plans they are working on, one of them being General Conference next year in Portland, Oregon. Rodriguez says the group will be attending the conference to represent and make a stand as Hispanic/Latino youth. They also want to welcome people to the Western Jurisdiction as most of them were born and raised in the jurisdiction. They are also hoping to volunteer for anything that is needed during the event.

“I believe LaHYPE brings hope to our faith in our own Christianity,” said Rodriguez. “As a member of this organization, we are excited for change to happen in our communities. On my own end, I like to remember Wesley’s idea that the world is my parish and the core ideas of the Methodist movement.”

Although LaHYPE is a group that targets youth in the Wester Jurisdiction, it does not exclude anyone from its body. Whether it is from a different jurisdiction or different background, Rodriguez says that, “we are all created equal and our backgrounds enrich us.”

Michelle Maldonado is Associate Director of Hispanic/Latino United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tennessee.

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