"He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water." Isaiah 49:10

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Hispanic Evangelical News

Leading the Hispanic Church
Lifting the Hispanic Dream

Hispanic Evangelical News
"La Voz Evangelica"August 2007

Dr. Jesse Miranda Joins NHCLC Executive Leadership Team, Appointed Chairman of World Hispanic Evangelical Alliance and President of Advisory Board
(Hispanic News, Washington D.C.) The Godfather of Hispanic Evangelicals, Dr. Jesse Miranda received appointment to the Executive Leadership Team of America's leading Latino Evangelical Organization, The National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. Dr. Miranda is the founder of AMEN, The National Alliance of Evangelical Ministries, America's first Hispanic Evangelical Network."NHCLC represents a much needed culturally affirmative world view with a deeper spiritual expression and a broader social agenda and is an authentic, independent witness of strong Christian principles for the growing, diverse Latino community", stated Miranda. Dr. Miranda brings the spirit of AMEN to the NHCLC. "Dr. Miranda brings to the NHCLC one of the sharpest minds in the Latino Community", stated Rev. Felix Posos, NHCLC Board Chairman. Last Month, The NHCLC recognized the Jesse Miranda Center in Vanguard University as the official Research and Leadership Training Center for the organization. In addition to his board leadership role, he will also serve as Chairman of the World Hispanic Evangelical Alliance and as President of the Advisory Board. Dr. Miranda continues to serve the Assemblies of God General Council as Executive Presbyter.

NHCLC Declares War on Xenophobia and Anti-Latino Rhetoric(Hispanic News, Washington D.C.) The Nation's largest Hispanic Christian organization declared war on xenophobia and anti-Latino/Hispanic rhetoric. "It's a terrible lose", stated Rev. Felix Posos, Conference Chairman at the news of the Senate's recent failed cloture vote on immigration reform. "For the next year and 6 months, 12 million people will hide deeper in the shadows and our Nation continues to be polarized by demagoguery and political expediency", stated Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, President of the Hispanic NAE. The NHCLC launched a nationwide tour engaging close to 18,000 churches in registering voters, addressing xenophobia and racism from the pulpits while simultaneously presenting "The Hispanic American Christian Manifesto". "We will share with all Americans the reasons why this immigrant community will benefit our nation and enrich the American experience', affirmed Rodriguez. Dr. Jesse Miranda, Advisory Board President and Board Member will host a summit in 2008 where the Manifesto will be presented to Media and the Nation. "This battle is far from over, and at the end of the day, Righteousness and Justice will prevail".

Hispanic Mega Church Association to Host annual Conference
Beginning April 2008The Recent Pew Research Data in respect to the growing Hispanic Evangelical population prompted the HISPANIC MEGA CHURCH ASSOCIATION or HMCA to announce an annual conference to discuss issues relevant and unique to America's largest Latino Evangelical Congregations.

Rev. Gilbert Velez, Association Director ,Senior Pastor of Mercy Church in Laredo, Texas and Vice President for Public Policy for the NHCLC, serves on the National Leadership Consortium with other non Hispanics such as Rick Warren and Bill Hybels. "This network is very much needed", stated Dr. Saturnino Gonzalez, Senior Pastor of the 4,000 member Calvary Temple in Orlando, Florida and member of the HMCA. Recently, Rev. Wilfredo DeJesus, Senior Pastor of the New Life Covenant Church in Chicago, Illinois, was featured in a Reuters News Story regarding transformational ministries. The annual event will take place in April in the midst of the annual Hispanic NAE Convention.

Promise Keepers and NHCLC Reaffirm Strategic Partnership. President Joins NHCLC advisory Board, NHCLC President Appointed to Promise Keepers Board of Directors representing the Latino Community.
(Hispanic Evangelical News). The World's foremost recognized Men's Ministry, Promise Keepers, invited and appointed Rev. Sam Rodriguez, NHCLC President, to serve on the National Board. Rodriguez, who speaks for PK expressed gratitude for the appointment. "My desire is for the Latino Church to make PK the premier partner in transforming men around the world", stated Rodriguez. In addition, Tom Fortson, Promise Keepers President and CEO, joined the advisory board of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and reaffirmed the strategic partnership between both organizations.

NHCLC President, Rodriguez speaks at National Church in D.C. Addressing in Pentecost. Clinton and Obama address Faith Issues
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez joined Rev. Jim Wallis, Rev Fred Haynes, Lynn Hybels and others in the annual Pentecost Conference. Rodriguez shared on The Prophetic Suppositions regarding Poverty and Justice". The Conference culminated with a live CNN Televised Presidential Forum on Faith where Sen. Clinton, Obama and Edwards participated. Conference segments are available on youtube.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TwnAIdp0cU4

Presidential Hopeful Mitt Romney, Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, NHCLC President, address Republican National Hispanic Assembly
Republican National Hispanic Assembly(Washington DC). Governor Mitt Romney and Rev. Sam Rodriguez addressed The Republican Hispanic Convention. Romney identified the Latino community as important members of the American community while Rodriguez gave an inspirational message on how Latinos will preserve the Nation's Faith Heritage.

New Life Covenant Church Draws Global Attention
Pastor Wilfredo DeJesus and the New Life Covenant Church in Chicago continue to present a vibrant model of a 21st Century Kingdom congregation. "Pastor DeJesus is one of America's Top Pastors", declared Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Hispanic NAE President. Reuters news service contacted Rodriguez regarding the Chicago church as the congregation's outreach ministries have drawn global attention. Pastor DeJesus serves on the National Board of the NHCLC and is an integral part of the Hispanic Mega Church Association. The 4,000 plus congregation incorporates biblical principles in ministering to the outcast, alienated and broken.

NHCLC selected to spearhead California Marriage Amendment Campaign
WASHINGTON, June 28 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ Reverend SamuelRodriguez, Jr., president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) and Matt Daniels, president of the Alliance for Marriage Foundation (AFM) today announced the launch of the California LatinoSteering Committee to Protect Marriage, as radical activists in Sacramentocontinue to strike at the commonsense definition of marriage in the statelegislature and courts.

"Marriage is under grave threat in the state of California. And if welose in California, we could well lose the national struggle to savemarriage," said Matt Daniels. "Activists lawyers are challengingProposition 22 before the California Supreme Court. Simultaneously, a billintroduced by San Francisco Assemblyman Mark Leno was recently approved inthe California Assembly, designed to overturn Proposition 22."

On March 7, 2000, 61.4% of California voters cast their ballots insupport of Proposition 22 -- the California Defense of Marriage Act. Whileshort of a state constitutional amendment, this popular referendum protectsmarriage in California as the union of a man and a woman. "For several decades, America has been wandering in a wilderness ofsocial problems caused by family disintegration," said Rev. Sam Rodriguez,an AFM Advisory Board Member. "Tragically, as bad as our current situationmay be, it could soon become dramatically worse. This is because Californiacourts and the legislature are poised to erase the legal road map formarriage and the family from state law."

Initial members of the Latino community in California serving on theSteering Committee include: Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, Jr., National HispanicChristian Leadership Conference, Rev. Felix Posos, Northern Pacific LatinAmerican District of the Assemblies of God, Dr. Jessie Miranda, AlianzaMinisterial Evangelica Nacional, Dr. David Lazo, Church of Power, Dr.Sergio Navarrette, Assemblies of God, Pacific Latin, and Rev. GilbertMontelongo, Tabernacle of Praise. The Alliance for Marriage Foundation is a non-partisan, multiculturalcoalition whose Board of Advisors includes Rev. Walter Fauntroy -- theformer DC Delegate who organized the March on Washington for Martin LutherKing Jr. as well as other civil rights and religious leaders, and national legalexperts. http://www.allianceformarriage.org/

Hispanic Reformation
The number of Spanish-speaking evangelicals is growing, in Wichita and across the U.S.
The Wichita Eagle
When Milca Molina moved to Wichita from Los Angeles nearly 20 years ago, there were two evangelical churches in the city that had a predominantly Spanish-speaking congregation. Today, there are more than 15, according to Molina, who helped start one of them -- Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Jerusalem, 1650 S. Broadway. Molina serves as associate pastor of the church. Her husband is pastor.

"We are reaching out to people," Molina said, "and the churches are growing."
Take the Molinas' church, for example. Molina and her husband, Azarel, started the church 15 years ago, and it had fewer than 40 members.
The church now has a congregation of about 300 and is planning to soon purchase its first church building. It currently holds its worship services at the former Kansas Blue Print building.The boom among Hispanic evangelical Christians isn't limited to Wichita.Nationwide, there are now about 10 million Hispanic Protestants, according to the recent Hispanic Churches in American Public Life research project.

That number has doubled during the past 10 years, according to the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr., founder and president of the Sacramento, Calif.-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference. The conference represents Hispanic evangelicals in the United States and Puerto Rico.

"This is the Protestant Reformation for Hispanics," Rodriguez said.
The growth shouldn't be a surprise.Nationwide, the U.S. Hispanic population grew from 22.4 million in 1990 to an estimated 42.7 million in 2005, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.In Wichita, the population has also increased rapidly. According to 2005 bureau estimates, nearly 51,000 Hispanics lived in Wichita. That number has more than tripled since 1990, according to the bureau.

Among all U.S. Hispanics, nearly 70 percent are Catholics.
But a report on Hispanics and religion released earlier this year showed that half of Hispanic evangelicals came to the faith from other backgrounds and more than 80 percent of them are former Catholics.

That report -- conducted by the Washington, D.C.-based research groups Pew Hispanic Center and the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life -- said that more than 80 percent of all Hispanic Christian converts cited a "desire for a more direct, personal experience with God" as a reason for their conversion. Few Hispanics -- only 7 percent -- said they left Catholicism because they were dissatisfied with the church's position on certain issues, the report said.

"They are saying, 'We like our Catholic faith. However, these evangelicals, they really have this going on with this personal relationship component,' " Rodriguez said. "'It has more animated services, it's more lively, it's more Hispanic.' "

That's a style of worship that Wichitan Bernabe Perez enjoys."It's the way we worship the Lord, with the Latino flavor," said Perez, who grew up evangelical and attends Iglesia Cristiana Nueva Jerusalem.

"People are looking for something different in the way they can find God."
Bishop Michael Jackels, of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, said the diocese is aware of the Hispanic evangelical churches in the area. But he doesn't see that the Catholic church is in competition with other churches.Several churches within the diocese offer Spanish-language services, many of which are at capacity. In addition, Jackels said, some churches offer charismatic prayer groups for their members and use instruments such as drums and guitars in their Spanish services.

"I don't think it's 'we'll do this to compete with,' " Jackels said, "but rather, 'we'll offer this as a service to respond to a need or a desire.' "
The Rev. Abraham Arevalos, pastor of Wichita's Iglesia Bautista Nueva Vida, said that while many Hispanic evangelical churches are growing, their relatively small size is another attraction.His church started five years ago with 35 people in the Sunday morning service. Today, 80 to 100 attend.

"Many are looking for an alternative," said Arevalos, who is president of the Alliance of Hispanic Churches, which serves the evangelical churches in Wichita. "Our churches are smaller, friendly, and people can find help there."
And that size, he said, helps members find what they are looking for in an evangelical church."People want a personal relationship with God," he said.

U.S. Hispanic believers prefer ‘Spirit-filled’ worship in Spanish
By Ted Parks
Associated Baptist Press
WASHINGTON (ABP)—Hispanic believers in the United States prefer “Spirit-filled religious expression” and gravitate toward a “distinctively ethnic” worship experience, opting to go to church with other Hispanics and speak Spanish when they get there, according to a recent report by the Washington, D.C.-based Pew Hispanic Center.Titled “Changing Faiths: Latinos and the Transformation of American Religion,” the Pew study suggests more than half of Latino Catholics in the United States, 54 percent, are charismatic or Pentecostal, with the proportion of charismatic and Pentecostal believers even larger among Latino Protestants, at 57 percent.
These figures sharply contrast non-Hispanic believers, among whom about one of every 10 Catholics is charismatic or Pentecostal, compared to one out of five Protestants.

The report uses “renewalist Christianity” as an umbrella term for Pentecostal and charismatic movements worldwide. Renewalism stresses the direct presence of the Spirit in believers’ lives as evidenced by speaking in tongues, miraculous healings and divine revelations. A rapidly growing movement across the globe, renewalism includes about a quarter of the world’s Christians, the study says.

In addition to charismatic experiences, renewalist Christianity emphasizes regular Bible reading, evangelism, a literal view of Scripture, and the “prosperity gospel”—the belief that God rewards faithfulness with health and financial success.

Surprisingly, embracing practices like miraculous healings and divine revelations—phenomena associated with Pentecostal Protestants—has not undermined the doctrinal core of Latino Catholics in the United States.
The study showed charismatic Latino Catholics are more likely than their noncharismatic counterparts to pray the rosary, go to confession and believe in transubstantiation—the doctrine that the bread and wine of communion become Christ’s literal body and blood.
Samuel Rodriguez, president of the California-based National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, marvels at the widespread charismatic presence among Latino Catholics.“There are more Catholic Pentecostals than there are Pentecostal Pentecostals,” Rodriguez said.

He offered both theological and cultural explanations for the charismatic tilt of Latino believers. Latin America was colonized principally by Spain and Portugal—southern European nations remaining largely outside the Protestant Reformation that swept the north of Europe. So, Mexico and Central and South America were unable to experience the original spiritual revolution associated with Germany’s Martin Luther, Rodriguez said.

He linked the arrival of dramatic religious reform to the expansion of Pentecostal Christianity following the birth of the modern Pentecostal movement around the beginning of the 20th century.“All of a sudden, the Protestant Reformation hit Latin America via Pentecostalism,” Rodriguez said. “The very first time Latin America removed itself, in its definition, from the shackles of Catholicism came via this very experiential faith.”

Culturally, Rodriguez believes, charismatic Christianity resonates with the emotional and relational dimensions of Hispanic culture. Hispanics represent “a very affective ... sort of culture,” Rodriguez said. “The charismatic movement ... talks about relationship with the person of God through the Holy Spirit,” he explained. “The Spirit-filled ethos embraces emotions and experiential moments of faith, and ... that is the DNA of the Latino culture.

The Pew report also found Hispanic believers in the United States prefer worshipping with fellow Latino believers. Among Hispanic Catholics, 70 percent worship in ethnically and linguistically Hispanic churches. For evangelical Christians, the figure is 62 percent, for mainline Protestants, 48 percent. In the report, an “ethnic church” means one with at least some Hispanic clergy, worship services in Spanish and a majority of Hispanic congregants.

While higher percentages of foreign-born Latinos than U.S.-born go to services done in Spanish, Hispanic churches are by no means uniquely for Spanish-only immigrants. The study found 48 percent of U.S.-born Latino believers worship in Hispanic congregations.
As for language ability, 80 percent of Hispanics who primarily speak Spanish attend Latino churches, but, even among bilingual believers, 64 percent prefer a Hispanic worship experience.Rene Maciel, who will become president of the Baptist University of the Americas in San Antonio in August, confirmed the tendency of Hispanic believers to stick together. While Latino Christians don’t intentionally avoid other believers, they often have practices rooted in culture that “keep drawing them to ... their congregations, to their people, to their worship services, to their music,” he said.

And with the university’s mission to train church leaders for service in Hispanic settings, Maciel emphasized the need for believers of all stripes to pay attention to the changing ethnic makeup where they live.
“There are more and more Hispanics moving into ... our neighborhood,” he said. “For us to be able to reach those people, we need to be cross-cultural. We need to understand the culture.”

Senate Delivers Fatal Blow to Immigration Bill
Ethan Cole
Christian Post Reporter
WASHINGTON – The hard-pressed immigration bill which sought to repair a broken system suffered a fatal blow Thursday rendering it dead to Congress, yet is predicted to live on as a key issue during the presidential race.

Fierce opposition to the bill from conservative Republicans who called the legislation amnesty has derailed the legislation for the time being. The emotionally-charged immigration problem involving millions of illegal immigrants in the United States and many more waiting to enter the country will remain as it is until most likely after a new president is elected in 2008.

“Everyone knows that our immigration laws are broken,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said, according to CNN. “And a country loses some of its greatness when it can’t fix a problem that everyone knows is broken. And that’s what happened today.”

The White House worked with a bipartisan group of senators for months to develop the immigration bill which was proclaimed to be a “grand bargain” between the two parties. It was hoped that the compromises in the bill such as a plan to legalize 12 million illegal immigrants balanced by tougher border security would be able to appease both sides.
However, Republicans still denounced the bill as amnesty.

“The end result was a blanket that was too small to cover everyone," said Tamar Jacoby, an analyst at the conservative Manhattan Institute and a strong supporter, according to The Associated Press. "By its nature, because it was a compromise, it was hard to muster intense support. But the opposition was very intense."

The plan fell 14 votes short of the 60 needed to limit debate and move towards final passage of the legislation. In the 46-53 vote, three-quarters of the Senate’s Republicans voted to kill the bill.
Immigration reform has been a central domestic issue for Bush for years. When the bill was first derailed earlier this month, the president took on the bill personally and made a rare appearance at the Capitol to rally fellow Republican senators to give the it another chance. Bush also sent two of his top aides to lobby for hours on Capitol Hill over a period of months to help push through the deal.“Legal immigration is one of the top concerns of the American people and Congress’ failure to act on it is a disappointment,” a grim faced Bush said, according to AP.
“A lot of us worked hard to see if we couldn’t find common ground. It didn’t work.Meanwhile, in Los Angeles, prominent immigration reform supporter Roman Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahony said the current system “will continue to permit the exploitation of workers, the separation of families, and will handicap efforts to secure our nation’s borders,” according to Reuters.
More churches and Christian leaders have recently become more vocal in their support of a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would treat illegal immigrants humanely based on how the Bible teaches believers to treat strangers.

Metropolitan churches across the nation have even offered their buildings as sanctuary to shield illegal immigrants from law enforcement officers, while the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference representing 15 million Hispanic evangelicals urged believers to pray for the immigration legislation last Sunday.

“Immigration Reform is not just a political or moral issue, it is above all a spiritual issue,” stated Dr. Jesse Miranda, president of the Advisory Board for the Hispanic NAE.
Some Christian leaders, however, opposed the bill, concerned that the legislation would open the floodgates for millions to come to America among other issues. The conservative think tank Heritage Foundation in an analysis of the bill estimated that its passage would mean at least 66 million legal immigrants coming to America in the next 20 years.

“No culture, no matter how open to diversity, can absorb that kind of population and societal shift in such a short period of time,” wrote Dr. Tony Beam, director of the Christian Worldview Center at North Greenville University, in a recent column in The Christian Post.Beam pointed to “God’s Word” saying that it calls for a balance between caring for the “stranger” in the land and the stranger’s responsibility to keep the law of the land.

After the bill’s defeat, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), a strong opponent of the bill, reassured that there would be “no permanent hard feelings over this among the people who wanted to pass a bill they thought would help America.”
A key architect of the bill, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), however, said although the bill’s defeat is a disappointment, he reassured Americans that, “We will be back. This issue is not going away,” according to AP.

Hispanic Evangelical Blogs: Dr. Albert Reyes, Pan Dulce, A Must Read(Hispanic News) Hispanic Evangelical Leaders continue to conceptualize the Latino Faith narrative via publications, magazine articles, books and blogs. "We have within our community Top Tier writers, scholars and leaders such as Justo Gonzalez, Jesse Miranda, Eldin Villafane, Pablo Polischuk and Albert Reyes", stated Rev. Sam Rodriguez, Hispanic NAE President. Rodriguez called upon Hispanic Christians to contribute to the National dialogue on immigration, social justice and the browning of the Evangelical church by blogging and via the web, establishing chat rooms.

"Pan Dulce by Albert Reyes is an example of how Hispanic Evangelicals 2.0 will create a virtual community that will tell the story, inform, inspire and enrich the narrative", added Rodriguez. In April of 2008, The NHCLC will host a forum for Hispanic Evangelical writers, bloggers and scholars.