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Reaching out to Latinos

Reaching out to Latinos

NPR notes how the Episcopal Church is actively reaching out to Latinos, telling the story of one congregation Saints Peter and Paul Episcopal Church in Portland, Oregon.

Here in Oregon, Hispanics now make up about six percent of the Episcopal Church. A denomination-wide outreach plan notes that Hispanics represent a huge growth potential. The plan outlines strategies to reach Latinos, including focusing efforts on first and second generation women, who the church calls “gatekeepers.”

“We need to have that intentionality,” says Roberto Arciniega, head of Latino ministries for the Episcopal Diocese of Oregon.

He says the outreach is about staying vital and relevant in a multicultural society. And it’s a shift in how his church views Latinos.

“We have the tendency to stereotype,” Arciniega says. “Many times we said, ‘oh poor Latinos, they are coming here because they don’t have anything to eat in their country. So let’s give them a hand-out, let’s give them something.'”

Arciniega says now, Latino outreach is about inviting people to stay and be a part of the congregation.

In Oregon, the efforts are paying off. Ten years ago, there were just 150 Latino Episcopalians. Now, there are more than 800. But nationally, according to the Pew Research Center, just five percent of all Hispanics attend a mainline Protestant church. The vast majority are Roman Catholic.


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Clint Davis

I do believe we will see a significant growth in Latino numbers as the years roll on. Perhaps continued discovery and use of Mozarabic chant and the glories of Hispanic polyphony, devotional singing and all that music from the colonial missions could add depth to our liturgical experience. I know when I do that stuff at the Catholic parish I play for, especially during Holy Week, the Hispanic folks are always the most complimentary. “That music is ours??” Why yes, yes it is, and because it was so awesome, now it’s everyone’s.

Remember how much the English loved Catherine of Aragon? Perhaps we can continue to undo some of Henry’s sins all these many centuries later. Reestablishment of monasteries and shrines, full communion with Lutherans, and now this!!

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