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Latinos/Hispanics fuel Episcopal Church growth

Latinos/Hispanics fuel Episcopal Church growth

NBCLatino reports that Latinos are fueling growth in the Episcopal Church:

In 2008, a meeting was convened in San Antonio, Texas with the expressed purpose of evaluating the Episcopal Church and how it could reach out to the burgeoning Hispanic community. It included a group of priests, but in a twist, also two Hispanic marketing professionals.

That’s why the resulting report featured marketing terms like a SWOT analysis (assessing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) and was able to analyze the U.S. Hispanic demographic the church was so keen on drawing in. The report was also something else for the Latino/Hispanic ministries within the Episcopal Church: A blueprint which helped make Latinos its fastest growing demographic in the last three years.

“It’s been a challenge but it’s so exciting,” says Anthony Guillen, 59, a missioner for Latino/Hispanic ministries, based in Los Angeles. “In the church we don’t talk about marketing and targeting, we talk about evangelizing. But I’m going to use marketing language and I’m not going to apologize for it. The church is doing itself a disservice if it’s not thinking in terms of marketing.”

Guillen says Nevada, Oregon and Washington D.C. have seen particularly impressive growth. Episcopalians in Nevada doubled in the last three years while Oregon saw their number of congregations triple.

….

“Hispanics in the U.S. are adventurous and open-minded and value education,” Aguilar says. “They’re here to work. Here to find a better life. The theology of the Episcopal Church is open and people are free to think. At our core we value education and have excellent schools.”

A reason many within the church give for its appeal to Latinos is the diversity and inclusiveness within it. “Clergy can marry and we have women clergy,” Aguilar says. “We are the very best about what is historic about the Christian church but also the best about what the church is becoming.”

“The church is attractive because it embraces diversity,” she says. “Think about what Apple did. The iMac, the iPod, the iPhone. They made it about you. In our church you can be who you are.”

Fernandez also explained why the church appeals to women.

“What I have come across with women, Latinas, is they feel very empowered,” she says. “The Catholic Church is so male-dominated that they can feel marginalized and relegated to certain duties. That’s not the case here. Women can serve as everything and you do not have that male-female severe line in the sand. So they say, ‘the church means so much to me but it means more to me when I can be welcomed throughout.’”

Read it all here.

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Djoslynsiem

Thank you for this post, Ann and to Miguel and John for the comments. This gives me hope and belies the rhetoric of decline foisted upon us by others.

Dan Joslyn-Siemiatkoski

John B. Chilton

Building on Miguel’s comment above, this article tells us something that applies regardless of the demographic.

As so many have eloquently stated, (1) those who claim decline in membership is due to the progressive actions of The Episcopal Church have not proven their assertion, (2) it’s simply false to say The Episcopal Church offers nothing different than you can find in secular progressivism — we have a supporting theology.

BUT the number of people who are “no church” is growing at the expense of all denominations. For The Episcopal Church the question I am framing is this: Yes, we offer an alternative to being a “no church” progressive (see (2)). We face at least two marketing challenges: How do we get across the message that we are different? And is that difference compelling to the “no church” folks?

For that matter, one can be religious “no church” person who has come to the same social convictions as the church has, by the same theological reasoning. So the question becomes, why should that person want to be part of a parish community?

Miguel Escobar

In its own way, I think this is a helpful counterargument to recent opinion pieces on how progressive decisions in the Episcopal Church are leading to decline. Latinos constitute the fastest growing segment of the Episcopal Church, and while this isn’t the case for everyone, this article highlights how women’s leadership and our welcoming stance is a draw. It certainly was for me, anyway, and many of the other Latino Episcopalians I’ve met since I joined in 2006. Thanks for posting.

Miguel Escobar

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