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Churches and Charity in the Immigrant City

Churches and Charity in the Immigrant City: Religion, Immigration, and Civic Engagement in Miami

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: Rutgers University Press
Pages: 336
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  • Book Info
    Churches and Charity in the Immigrant City
    Book Description:

    In addition to being a religious countryùover ninety percent of Americans believe in God--the United States is also home to more immigrants than ever before.Churches and Charity in the Immigrant Cityfocuses on the intersection of religion and civic engagement among Miami's immigrant and minority groups. The contributors examine the role of religious organizations in developing social relationships and how these relationships affect the broader civic world. Essays, for example, consider the role of leadership in the promotion and creation of "civic social capital" in a Haitian Catholic church, transnational ties between Cuban Catholics in Miami and Havana, and several African American congregations that serve as key comparisons of civic engagement among minorities.

    This book is important not only for its theoretical contributions to the sociology of religion, but also because it gives us a unique glimpse into immigrants' civic and religious lives in urban America.

    eISBN: 978-0-8135-4714-5
    Subjects: Religion, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. 1 Religion, Immigration, and Civic Engagement
    (pp. 1-38)

    On a typical Sunday in Miami, a Haitian pastor from Port-au-Prince lays hands on the afflicted in a storefront Pentecostal church in Little Haiti, while a few miles west a Catholic priest from Nicaragua says Mass in Spanish to his diverse Latino flock. A few blocks further west, a group of elderly Cuban Catholics plans a fund-raising event for the Diocese of Guantánamo-Baracoa in eastern Cuba. Meanwhile, in Miami’s southern suburbs, another Catholic church is receiving the bishop of Trinidad, and further south still, Mexican fieldworkers busily prepare for the feast of their patron saint, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Nearby,...

  5. PART ONE Charismatic Leaders and Linking Civic Social Capital

    • 2 So Close and Yet So Far Away: Comparing Civic Social Capital in Two Cuban Congregations
      (pp. 41-71)

      In Jesus’ time, he recognized that people were suffering and that their necessities and ailments had to be addressed before they were going to have the ability to attend fully to their beliefs. As eloquently communicated in Bible verses from the book of Matthew, he knew that meeting people’s material and spiritual needs was an enormous task and that he could not accomplish it alone.

      So Jesus went around all the towns and villages teaching in their synagogues, announcing the good news of the kingdom and curing every kind of ailment and disease. The sight of the people moved him...

    • 3 Refugee Catholicism in Little Haiti: Miamiʹs Notre Dame dʹHaiti Catholic Church
      (pp. 72-91)

      On October 27, 1983, a Polish American Catholic priest named Thomas Wenski led 140 Haitian immigrants in somber procession beneath the majestic oaks that grace the churchyard of Notre Dame d’Haiti Catholic Church in Little Haiti, one of Miami’s most depressed inner-city neighborhoods. There they joined hands in a circle and prayerfully erected a large wooden cross in their center to commemorate the 33 Haitian refugees who died when their sailboat,La Nativité, capsized just off the South Florida coast at night exactly two years and one day before. Horrifyingly, their bodies had washed up on Hillsboro Beach by the...

    • 4 Politics and Prayer in West Perrine: Civic Engagement in the Black Church
      (pp. 92-116)

      One day in November 2001, some sixty people packed the small satellite police station in the Black neighborhood of West Perrine, Florida, where a community meeting sponsored by the Neighborhood Resource Team (NRT) was about to begin.¹ Police officers, social workers, representatives from government agencies such as the Florida Department of Children and Families, pastors, businessmen, landlords of low-income housing projects, and other citizens talked together in the meeting room and outside in the hallway. Suddenly, Miami-Dade County commissioner Dennis Moss arrived. The people in the hallway grew quiet and moved aside as the commissioner made his way through the...

  6. PART TWO Service and Volunteerism and Bridging Civic Social Capital

    • 5 Unidos en la Fe: Transnational Civic Social Engagement between Two Cuban Catholic Parishes
      (pp. 119-131)

      Since 1959 over a million Cubans have migrated to the United States; the majority today live in the greater Miami area, also known as the capital of the Cuban exile. Unlike many other immigrant groups in the United States who have and continue to maintain ongoing transnational ties to their countries of origin, the dominant image of the relationship between Cubans on both sides of the Florida Straits has been one of two communities in a state of cold war with few, if any, ties but many animosities. Decades of anger, bitterness, and distrust have, in fact, dominated the official...

    • 6 La Catedral del Exilio: A Nicaraguan Congregation in a Cuban Church
      (pp. 132-150)

      Suyapa Velazquez remembers the day she re-joined Ms. Adela Jaramillo’s after-school class at San Juan Bosco’s Catholic Church’s Religious-Civic-Patriotic School.¹ With a hint of embarrassment and a bit of bewilderment, the Central American teen recalled, during her interview held at recess time in the afternoon, “I was out for a few months to help care for my little brother, and when I came back the other students had already finished studying the geography of Cuba, the meaning of Cuba’s coat of arms, and other important things.” In an effort to catch up to her classmates, Suyapa searched the Internet and...

    • 7 Black Churches and the Environment in Miami
      (pp. 151-168)

      In the beginning of the summer of 2001, my summer job was mapping churches with the Religion and Civic Life in Miami Project at Florida International University. It seemed I was biding my time until I began my “real” academic research on my chosen research subject, the interplay between people and the natural environment. The mapping project, emphasizing social capital and religiosity, seemed unrelated to my research interests. However, in the Black urban and semi-urban neighborhoods where I was assigned to do my fieldwork, I found churchgoers connecting with nature through their engagement in various projects linked to the environment,...

  7. PART THREE Religious and Spiritual Activities and Bonding Social Capital

    • 8 Youth and Charity in a Sweetwater Parish: Our Lady of Divine Providence Church
      (pp. 171-189)

      On a typically hot and humid Miami day in 2003, bulldozers, forklifts, and construction workers moved busily about the Our Lady of Divine Providence churchyard, erecting a twenty-thousand-square-foot church. The new edifice, completed late the next year, replaced a squat red brick structure less than half its size that was built there a quarter-century prior, just as the congregation was about to open its doors to the waves of refugees from Cuba and, somewhat later, from Nicaragua, then crashing on Miami shores. From the time that Archbishop Coleman F. Carroll designated the parish in June of 1973 until the parish’s...

    • 9 Faith in the Fields: Mexican Marianism in Miami-Dade County
      (pp. 190-207)

      Upon a stage in the yard of St. Ann Mission Catholic Church in rural southern Miami-Dade County stand six Mexican American youths costumed as Aztec warriors, performing act I of the playEl Más Pequeño de Mis Hijos(The Least of My Children). On an altar before them lies a pretty, young, motionless woman dressed in white. Before a backdrop of mountains and pyramids, and to the sounds of war drums, the chief warrior recites a series of incantations before kneeling beside the woman. He next plunges a knife into her chest and rips out her heart, standing and raising...

    • 10 The Struggle for Civic Social Capital in West Indian Churches
      (pp. 208-230)

      The West Indian¹ churches in this study typically have not been sites for the development of civic social capital (CSC). Similar to Sandy, quoted above, West Indian congregants commonly speak of the need to reach out, but the perceived need is usually not matched by deeds. While welcoming outsiders, as they did us in our fieldwork,² they do not actively reach out to them. Typical of West Indian immigrants, the congregants possess relatively large amounts of human and cultural capital with above-average education for immigrants and a native fluency in English, resources frequently associated with CSC. Yet their churches are...

    • 11 Religious Practice and Civic Social Capital among Miami Youth
      (pp. 231-249)

      The previous chapters in this book focus on particular immigrant and native minority congregations. This chapter assumes a complementary perspective through the examination of a large cross-section of Miami youth to assess the relationship between their religious practice and civic social capital (CSC). We focus on youth, and particularly immigrant youth, for two reasons. First, the impact of immigration on the United States is not solely immediate but is also expressed in the longer term by immigrant youth who mature into adults in the United States. Second, while the literature reviewed in the first chapter demonstrates the central role that...

    • 12 Conclusions: Religious Leadership and Civic Social Capital
      (pp. 250-272)

      Through case studies of Christian congregations and a survey of college freshmen, this volume has examined the relationships between civic engagement and religion for immigrants and African Americans. Through the concept of civic social capital (CSC), it most fundamentally addresses these relationships within the context of the social and cultural transformation of U.S. society in the wake of the largest influx of immigrants in its history.

      CSC focuses on social capital that specifically ties individuals to the larger civic society in which they are embedded. We created this concept to overcome what we view as deficiencies in the ways others...

    (pp. 273-276)
  9. INDEX
    (pp. 277-286)
  10. [Illustrations]
    (pp. None)