Imagery of Regent people and campus

UnChapel Celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month

By Brett Wilson | September 30, 2013

Rev. Eliezer Bonilla.

Each year, Regent University's Center for Latino Leadership (CCL) celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month (HHM). The month-long appreciation spans each year from Sept. 15-Oct. 15 and provides students, faculty, staff and members of the Hampton Roads community with an opportunity to recognize the vitality Hispanic culture brings to the nation.

"Each time we celebrate culture at Regent, we do so from a Kingdom perspective—Hispanic Heritage Month is no exception," said Dr. Marcella Chavan-Matviuk, director of CLL. "We are all one in Christ and we, as a university, aim to mirror Christ's church in its multiple threads and heritage."

This year, those involved with HHM can participate in activities such as movie nights, student-led workshops and cultural education seminars. But, according to Chavan-Matviuk, HHM is more than just a mere collection of educational experiences.

"We prepared activities with the goal of enriching the experience and exposure of the students to other cultures as a way of equipping them to be Christ's ambassadors and to also strengthen the unity in this great nation," said Chavan-Matviuk.

On Thursday, Sept. 19, Regent's Campus Ministries hosted a special UnChapel event, which was one of the many activities unfolding on campus to support the Hispanic heritage celebration. Rev. Eliezer Bonilla, a national speaker and pastor, addressed students and urged them to acknowledge the importance of a wider acceptance of culture in both the Church body and the United States.

"Jesus, as he traveled and taught, broke cultural expectations and experiences," said Bonilla. "Each of us needs to ask Him to renew and restore us so that we can get a new perspective."

Bonilla currently serves as the pastor of Abundant Life Church of God, a dual-campus church with more than 2,000 members in San Antonio, TX, which makes him no stranger to breaking cultural boundaries. He spoke of a time in his life that his reality "shifted like tectonic plates," when, at the age of 12, he and his family moved from Mexico to the United States.

"I was made to come, and I had a fast-paced immersion into this great country of ours," said Bonilla. "They put books that I couldn't read in my hands and gave me a code for a locker—talk about culture shock!"

Now, as both the leader of his multi-ethnic church and member of the board of directors for the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference which serves 15 million Hispanics nationally, Bonilla exudes a passion for bringing cultures together. He encouraged his audience to not seek to be on the "right side of history," but to be like Christ, and seek to be on the "right side of eternity."

"Could it be that as we celebrate this month, could this also be a launching pad?" Bonilla asked. "Could this be a time for us to realize that we have been called to this place in our culture and history for such a time as this?"

Learn more about the Center for Latino Leadership and view a full calendar listing of the Hispanic Heritage Month activities.


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