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Hispanic Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists in Texas

Hispanic Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists in Texas

Paul Barton
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    Hispanic Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists in Texas
    Book Description:

    The question of how one can be both Hispanic and Protestant has perplexed Mexican Americans in Texas ever since Anglo-American Protestants began converting their Mexican Catholic neighbors early in the nineteenth century. Mexican-American Protestants have faced the double challenge of being a religious minority within the larger Mexican-American community and a cultural minority within their Protestant denominations. As they have negotiated and sought to reconcile these two worlds over nearly two centuries,los Protestanteshave melded Anglo-American Protestantism with Mexican-American culture to create a truly indigenous, authentic, and empowering faith tradition in the Mexican-American community.

    This book presents the first comparative history of Hispanic Methodists, Presbyterians, and Baptists in Texas. Covering a broad sweep from the 1830s to the 1990s, Paul Barton examines how Mexican-American Protestant identities have formed and evolved aslos Protestantesinteracted with their two very different communities in the barrio and in the Protestant church. He looks at historical trends and events that affected Mexican-American Protestant identity at different periods and discusses why and how shifts inlos Protestantes' sense of identity occurred. His research highlights the fact that while Protestantism has traditionally served to assimilate Mexican Americans into the dominant U.S. society, it has also been transformed into a vehicle for expressing and transmitting Hispanic culture and heritage by its Mexican-American adherents.

    eISBN: 978-0-292-79595-2
    Subjects: Sociology, Religion

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-11)

    The Reverend Roberto Gómez, pastor of a Mexican-American United Methodist church in Mission, Texas, on the Texas-Mexico border, commented that the Anglo-American visitors to his church in December 1998 expected to find worshippers who looked like them. He experienced other instances like this throughout his tenure at the church. He noted that winter visitors from the north typically remarked to the pastor after the service that they never anticipated seeing such a large congregation of Mexican-American Protestants because they assumed that all Mexican Americans attended Catholic churches.¹

    In addition to addressing these visitors′ perceptions, Rev. Gómez must address his own...

  5. 2 The Tejano/a Catholic Worldview
    (pp. 12-26)

    To understand the complex socioreligious identity of los Protestantes, it is necessary to explore the worldview and ethos of Mexican-American Catholicism.¹ The worldview and ethos of a people is shaped in part by their historical and political experiences. In the case of Tejanos/as, Texans of Hispanic descent, their religion was influenced by the turmoil and conflicts they experienced throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Examination of the worldview and ethos of Mexican-American Catholics puts in sharp relief the experience of Mexican-American Protestants and their relationship to their Catholic neighbors.

    For this study, the term ″nineteenth century″ transcends traditional boundaries...

  6. 3 ‘‘Onward Christian Soldiers’’: Anglo-Protestant Missionaries
    (pp. 27-44)

    The hymn ″Onward Christian Soldiers″ concisely expresses the worldview of the church militant. As Protestant worshippers sang this hymn, they appropriated the Protestant-American ethos of the missionary enterprise—the centrifugal thrust of evangelical Protestantism. This chapter focuses on these forms of piety and mission initiatives as ways to understand the worldview and ethos that Anglo-American Protestants attempted to bestow upon the Spanish-speaking who adopted their religious tradition. To comprehend the character of Protestantism operating on both sides of the United States–Mexico border, I pose two questions: (1) What was the character of the Protestantism the missionaries and Anglo-American Protestants...

  7. 4 ‘‘Jesus Is All the World to Me’’: Los Protestantes’ Appropriation of Anglo-American Protestantism
    (pp. 45-77)

    The popular hymn ″Jesus Is All the World to Me″ emphasizes for Protestants the significance of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.¹ This emphasis on a personal relationship with Christ was transmitted to Spanish-speaking converts so effectively that they in turn exhibited a strong piety toward Christ. This personal relationship with Christ replaced the personal relationship that Spanish-speaking Catholics typically had with Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe and other saints.

    As Mexican Americans entered the orbit of Anglo-American society through the Protestant church, they appropriated the worldview, ethos, and ideology² of their Protestant missionaries, as the hymn ″Jesus Is All the...

  8. 5 ‘‘Jesús Es Mi Rey Soberano’’: The Mexican-American Character of los Protestantes
    (pp. 78-114)

    One of the most popular hymns among los Protestantes, ″Jesús Es Mi Rey Soberano,″ was written in 1920 by a renowned Mexican Methodist minister and composer of hymns,Dr.Vicente Mendoza.¹ Until the 1930s, Spanish-speaking Protestants sang hymns that had been composed in Europe and the United States and then translated into Spanish. Dr. Mendoza was one of the first Spanish-speaking Protestants to create hymnody that reflected their own theology, spirituality, and musical style.² His hymnody reveals that Spanish-speaking Protestants were not simply recipients of the Anglo-American Protestant missionary enterprise, but were creating their own particular worldview, which blended the faith and...

  9. 6 ¿‘‘Somos Uno en el Espíritu’’? The Relationship between los Protestantes and Catholicism
    (pp. 115-136)

    ″We Are One in the Spirit,″ a popular hymn with a Native American melody, gives voice to the desire for unity among all peoples.¹ In its Spanish translation, it has become popular among Spanish-speaking persons in the United States. Yet, the theme of unity and fellowship among Hispanic Protestants and Catholics could not even be conceived of until the 1960s; before then, Mexican-American Protestants defined themselves largely in opposition to the Catholic Church. Mexican and Mexican-American converts to Protestantism understood their conversion to be as much a rejection of their Catholic beliefs as an affirmation of Protestant beliefs. The rejection...

  10. 7 Conclusion
    (pp. 137-146)

    From the start, Anglo-American Protestants perceived as their mission among the Spanish-speaking the assimilation and absorption of Mexican Americans into mainstream society. To this end, they inculcated in los Protestantes a worldview, along with corresponding attitudes, values, celebrations, and behaviors, that was as much Anglo American as it was Protestant. They offered the Spanish-speaking population in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries social services, health care, charity, education, vocational training, and religious services. In all of these different ministries, Anglo-American Protestants endeavored to ″uplift″ the Spanish-speaking—morally, spiritually, economically, and socially. In all their work, Protestants served as mediating agents between...

  11. Appendix A Institutional History of the Rio Grande Annual Conference
    (pp. 147-151)
  12. Appendix B Institutional History of the Mexican Baptist Convention of Texas
    (pp. 152-156)
  13. Appendix C Institutional History of the Texas-Mexican Presbytery
    (pp. 157-160)
  14. Appendix D Máximo Villarreal Book Collection
    (pp. 161-167)
  15. Appendix E Course of Study Readings for Ordination for Spanish-Speaking Methodists
    (pp. 168-171)
  16. Appendix F ‘‘Hispanic Creed’’
    (pp. 172-174)
  17. Notes
    (pp. 175-214)
  18. Bibliography
    (pp. 215-232)
  19. Index
    (pp. 233-246)