While Rocio Madrigal is not usually fond of what she calls typical American food such as hamburgers, the turkey feast she shared with more than 100 others at Fairview United Methodist Sunday was a different story.
Madrigal and 11 others from the new Iglesia Metodista Unida Hispana, or Hispanic United Methodist Church, celebrated a meal that followed a bilingual service led by the Rev. Edgar Lopez. Lopez and his wife, Maribel, hosted the first church service in their home on Oct. 10 with about 15 in attendance.
Lopez, who is from Mexico City, said Thanksgiving is a holiday he is adopting along with his new life in the United States. He learned about the history and the motives behind celebrating the day when he attended seminary in Texas from 1994-98.
For some of the Iglesia Metodista members, this will be the first year that el Dia de Accion de Gracias, or Thanksgiving, will have meaning for them.
Jorge Perez from Chiapas, Mexico, moved to Columbia six months ago and has known the Lopezes for 15 days. For him, Thanksgiving is a way of connecting with people in the United States, although he has never celebrated the holiday before. He said it’s an important way of bonding with his new friends.
“Although we are different colors and different races, we are part of the same heart,” Perez said.
The Rev. Nick Campbell of Fairview said inviting the new church to the annual Thanksgiving celebration is a way to show Iglesia Metodista that it is a part of a bigger community.
“It’s another way to say we’re glad they’re here and we are thankful for them,” Campbell said.
Part of what Madrigal wants to include in her first Thanksgiving experience is understanding more about how it is celebrated. Although she said she does not know much about the origins of the Thanksgiving holiday, she said it is a way to give thanks to God for the new people that she has met here, including those who cooked the Thanksgiving meal at Fairview.
“It’s a beautiful expression of hospitality that they have given us,” Madrigal said.