WFU to host evening dedicated to Hispanic worship

In an effort to connect with the rapidly growing Hispanic population of Forsyth County, Wake Forest University will host a full evening of Hispanic art, food, music and worship with its first “Fiesta: A Celebration of Hispanic Hymnody and Worship Arts” Nov. 3.

The celebration starts at 5:30 p.m. with the Wake Forest Museum of Anthropology’s exhibit “Dias de los Muertos” (“Days of the Dead”), which has been held over from its original completion date of Nov. 1 for this special celebration. The exhibit features an interpretation of a traditional Mexican “ofrenda,” a home altar complete with sugar skulls, colorful tissue paper cutouts of skeletons performing activities usually reserved for the living, food and beverage offerings, marigolds and photographs of deceased relatives.

A reception featuring traditional food prepared by a member of the local Hispanic community will start at 6 p.m. in the lower auditorium of Wingate Hall.

At 7 p.m., the Wake Forest Divinity School will present “FIESTA: Worship Celebration” in Wait Chapel. The celebration combines prayers said in both Spanish and English and traditional music performed by the Andean group “Vientos del Sur” and the Latin group “Cantares.” Both groups are from local churches and feature Hispanic musicians from across the state.

In addition, the service will feature a performance by the mariachi band “Mariachi Nuevo Michoacan” from Greensboro. Several members of the local Hispanic community will lead prayers and readings at the service, along with student readers from the Wake Forest Divinity School.

“I think this is an incredible forum for the university,” said Miriam Hernandez, executive director of the Hispanic International Action Association and a participant in the fiesta program. “The university is obviously very interested in the community that surrounds it. Having Wake Forest open its doors to the Hispanic community like this is a major step in helping to integrate our community.”

During the fiesta service, the Rev. Kelly Carpenter, pastor of Green Street United Methodist Church, will lead an Agape Meal, a traditional love feast in which participants take loaves of bread and grapes to other participants whom they do not know. Carpenter, who helped organize the fiesta program, said the bilingual worship service should be well-attended by members of the Hispanic community.

After the worship service, the mariachi band will lead a procession from Wait Chapel to the university’s Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery where participants can view the exhibit “Inside/Outside: Contemporary Cuban Art.” The exhibit, which highlights the recent work of artists born or educated in Cuba, features more than 30 contemporary works of art from a broad range of media, including paintings, photographs, sculpture and multimedia installations. The works represent diverse interpretations of social, personal and psychological-intellectual issues related to Cuban culture.

Jill Crainshaw, an organizer of the fiesta program and associate dean for vocational formation in the Divinity School, said the events have been organized so participants can attend all or a portion of the offerings. A great deal of attention was given to the authenticity of the worship celebration, and Crainshaw said members of the Hispanic community served on the planning team for the program along with students, faculty and staff members.

“The team that planned this program really tried to look at how we could invite members of the Hispanic community to campus and make them feel comfortable here,” Crainshaw said. “There are some great and insightful leaders in the Hispanic community, and we consulted them extensively. The Divinity School has a very real goal of building strong ties to the local Hispanic clergy and lay leaders. I think this program will be a terrific step in that process.”

The fiesta program is sponsored by the Divinity School, the Charlotte and Philip Hanes Art Gallery and the Museum of Anthropology. This program is made possible through a Worship Renewal Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, Grand Rapids, Mich., with funds provided by the Lilly Endowment Inc.

Categories: Arts & Culture, Community, Events