Latino Pentecostals in America

Latino Pentecostals in America

Gastón Espinosa
Copyright Date: 2014
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 520
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zswzn
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  • Book Info
    Latino Pentecostals in America
    Book Description:

    Today 12.5 million U.S. Latinos self-identify as Protestant, and Assemblies of God is the destination for one out of four converts. Gastón Espinosa reveals the church's struggle for indigenous leadership, racial equality, women in the ministry, and immigration reform and shows why "Silent Pentacostals" are an activist voice in Evangelical politics.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-36999-3
    Subjects: Religion, History, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-21)

    In 1979 Victor De Leon publishedThe Silent Pentecostals: A Biographical History of the Pentecostal Movement among Hispanics in the Twentieth Century. This was the first book-length history of the Latino Assemblies of God (AG) in the United States. It spanned the period from 1915 to 1979 and focused primarily on the Southwest. He titled itThe Silent Pentecostalsnot because Pentecostals are quiet, but because their story had never been told before outside of the Latino AG community and because they had not “receive[d] the recognition they deserved,” De Leon said.¹ The fact that he had to self-publish the...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Holy Ghost and Fire: Azusa Street and Mexican Pentecostal Origins
    (pp. 22-59)

    The birth of the Latino Pentecostal movement in the United States and Puerto Rico traces its origins to William J. Seymour’s Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles in 1906. Latinos participated in the revival the first week it opened and in the first manifestation of the Holy Spirit. In October of that year, Abundio and Rosa López testified about the impact of Seymour’s revival and the baptism with the Holy Ghost on their lives:

    We testify to the power of the Holy Spirit in forgiveness, sanctification, and the baptism with the Holy Ghost and fire. We give thanks to God...

  6. CHAPTER 2 Victory Is Coming Now: Mexican Pentecostals in Texas
    (pp. 60-82)

    William J. Seymour’s Azusa Street Revival and Charles Parham’s Apostolic Faith Movement were the two primary catalysts in the birth of the Latino Pentecostal movement in Texas. Their followers converted a number of Mexicans to Pentecostalism who in turn founded their own independent missions from 1909 to 1915 that served as the foundation for the future Latino Assemblies of God work in Texas from 1915 to 1922. This first pioneer generation has been almost completely left out of Latino AG histories. However, they are important because they laid a sure foundation for subsequent Euro-American missionaries like H. C. Ball and...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Their Salvation May Depend on Us: Missionary Origins in Texas
    (pp. 83-108)

    In 1916 Assemblies of God missionary John A. Preston wrote that the Pentecostal work in Texas was growing by leaps and bounds. He called on hisWeekly Evangelreaders to partner with him by offering their prayer and financial support because “their salvation may depend on us.”¹ Indeed, although Preston, pictured in Figure 3.1 with his wife, was referring primarily to raising funds for evangelistic work among Mexicans, it still reflected a deep belief among many Euro-American AG leaders that the Mexican ministers were largely incapable of saving their own people. This general sentiment led to a quiet but growing...

  8. CHAPTER 4 The Gringos Have Control: Francisco Olazábal’s Reformation in the Borderlands
    (pp. 109-133)

    As Ball’s influence grew in San Antonio he heard reports of Olazábal’s powerful evangelistic campaigns in the West.¹ Robert J. Craig of Glad Tidings Tabernacle in San Francisco sponsored his application for AG ordination and prophetically wrote that he “preaches with power in English and Spanish” and that “God will greatly use him in organizing and opening up the work among the Spanish-speaking people.”²

    Olazábal felt called to pioneer the AG work in El Paso. As Latino historian Mario T. García points out, the city was strategic for several reasons: millions of Mexicans traveled through El Paso because it was...

  9. CHAPTER 5 Pentecostal Origins in the Southwest and the Struggle for Self-Determination
    (pp. 134-163)

    Although Ball survived with his power base intact and would go on to rebuild a remarkably strong movement, he was still disappointed by his own inability to avoid the schism. For despite his personal tensions with many of the Mexican leaders, all accounts indicate that he loved the Mexican people and wanted what was best for them.¹ However, what he and they thought were best were occasionally at odds.

    The conflict between Ball and Olazábal’s independent movement was largely restricted to Texas. It did not affect the work in California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. To reduce any simmering tensions...

  10. CHAPTER 6 The Challenges of Freedom: Mexican American Leadership in the Southwest
    (pp. 164-191)

    After almost two decades of struggling for an independent voice and native leadership, Demetrio Bazan was finally elected the second superintendent of the Latino AG on October 20, 1939—eighteen years after Olazábal and the Mexicanindependistasfirst asked to run their own district. Ball’s decision to hand over the work was good news, but the timing was less than ideal. The Great Depression was in full swing and the movement and its ministers were struggling to survive. The organization had lost many churches and missions and its leadership was worn-out and impoverished. While some missions had closed, the Latino...

  11. CHAPTER 7 We Preach the Truth: Azusa Street and Puerto Rican Pentecostal Origins and Expansion
    (pp. 192-232)

    While H. C. Ball was bringing independent Mexican Pentecostal missions together at the first and second Mexican Pentecostal convention in South Texas in 1918, a Puerto Rican evangelist named Juan Lugo was preaching his own version of the truth on the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. Following the strategy of countless evangelists, Lugo found a street corner in the densely populated city of Ponce on the southern part of the island and then led his small band of followers in singing several hymns and sharing powerful testimonies about how Jesus Christ could save even the most terrible of sinners. Lugo...

  12. CHAPTER 8 The “Puerto Rico Problem”: The Struggle for Integration, Independence, and Rebirth
    (pp. 233-254)

    The growing recognition of the Pentecostal Church of God took place during an upsurge in Puerto Rican cultural and political nationalism. The nationalist push was led by Pedro Albizu Campos and Luís Muñoz Marín, one of whom championed complete political independence and the other full integration but not assimilation into the United States. Although the 1937 Ponce uprising failed in its call for independence, it captured the mood and spirit of the people on the island and throughout the Puerto Rican diaspora who were tired of being treated like an internal colony of the United States.¹

    The next major push...

  13. CHAPTER 9 Spirit and Power: Puerto Rican Pentecostalism in New York City
    (pp. 255-281)

    The Spanish Eastern Convention played a critical role in the decision of the Pentecostal Church of God to leave the AG. This is ironic because the Spanish Eastern Convention was originally a mission sponsored by the Pentecostal Church of God. However, by the 1950s it had become a hybrid Puerto Rican American work that was increasingly more tied to the General Council in Springfield than to Puerto Rico. This fact, along with the indigenization of the movement with second-generation Puerto Ricans born and raised in New York and the indigenization of their work with the creation of their own churches,...

  14. CHAPTER 10 Your Daughters Shall Prophesy: The Uphill Struggle of Women in Ministry
    (pp. 282-321)

    Throughout the history of the Latino Assemblies of God, women have been ordained to the ministry. They have served as pastors, evangelists, teachers, and missionaries. Despite this fact, they have faced an uphill calling. This struggle is evident in the life and ministry of Aimee García Cortese (Figure 10.1). A young woman with burning passion to preach the Gospel, she ran into a number of roadblocks to full ordination. The biggest obstacle to full ordination, she wrote, was the fact that she was a woman. Although she had the support of every official in her district, she was denied ordination...

  15. CHAPTER 11 Righteousness and Justice: Faith-Based Action for Social Change
    (pp. 322-360)

    Contrary to popular perception, Latino Pentecostals have been involved in faith-based social, civic, and political civic action throughout the twentieth century. Although their work is not framed in terms of the Social Gospel or Liberation Theology movements because such movements are not Christ-centered enough for them, Latino Assemblies of God leaders and laity regularly engage in social, civic, and political action and acts of mercy.¹ In fact, because the needs are so great and these acts so common in local churches, most Latino Pentecostals do not see anything special about them but rather assume that is what Christians are supposed...

  16. CHAPTER 12 Balancing the Horizontal with the Vertical: Latino Growth, Social Views, and Influence in National Politics
    (pp. 361-405)

    One area where Latino AG leaders are beginning to exercise greater voice and influence is in American presidential politics. Over the past thirty-five years, they have gone from being largely silent spectators to active participants. They have sought to use their large and growing number of followers and churches and their intersecting Latino, Evangelical, working-class, and immigrant political clout to leverage influence and agency in American public life. They are attractive to presidents because their intersecting value allows presidents to accomplish multiple forms of outreach via one group. President George W. Bush, for example, invited Jesse Miranda and the National...

  17. Conclusion
    (pp. 406-418)

    This book challenges a number of conventional stereotypes about the Latino Assemblies of God. Chapter 1 challenges the notion that the Latino Pentecostal movement is a recent post-1960 phenomenon. We have seen that the Latino AG movement actually traces its roots back to William J. Seymour’s Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles and Charles Parham’s Apostolic Faith work in Houston. Latinos actively contributed to the Azusa Street Revival and helped transform what was a largely biracial English-language domestic prayer meeting on Bonnie Brae Street into a multilingual, international, multiracial-ethnic revival on Azusa Street.

    Chapter 2 challenges the notion that H....

  18. Notes
    (pp. 421-490)
  19. Index
    (pp. 491-505)