about us | contact | for sale<  - congregations



by Rev. Eldin Villafane

excerpts from Sunday, February 19, 1995   Boston Globe

    They are an emerging cadre of Latino Pentecostal leaders, whose church blends the exuberance of the Spirit with passionate concern for the poor and the oppressed. In the words of the prophet Jeremiah, they "seek the pace of the city." 

   One such leader is Rev. Luis Aponte, a former gang leader and drug dealer. He is the visionary pastor of a thriving Latino Pentecostal church in Dorchester. Iglesia Pentecostal Cristo El Ray. ... This Latino church, like many other Latino churches in Boston, is home to a growing Latino population - according to the census there are 128, 883 Latinos in the Boston area.  

  What distinguishes Rev. Luis Aponte, along with the majority of the Latino Protestant churches of Boston, is that they are part of the growing Pentecostal movement worldwide.  The statistics are amazing. According to some estimates it is growing at the rate of 20 million new members a year, with worldwide membership of more than 410 million. In Latin America the growth has been so outstanding that David Stoll entitled his book, "Is  Latin America Turning Protestant?" ...

  Pentecostalism is the branch of the Protestant faith that is defined by a radical experience of the Holy Spirit. This experience of God in Pentecostal churches is manifested in a witness and worship service that includes healing, speaking in tongues and a deeply emotional and exuberant liturgy. ...

  Many reasons are given for the growth of Pentecostalism. Around the world it is often among the few religious institutions whose life and mission is for the urban poor and marginalized. Their churches provide the community a ''space," amid crime, violence, racism, injustice and death, where self- worth, human dignity and a family can be found. It's a church where the Gospel is preached and spiritual and clear moral directions are given. ...

   The questions of political involvement of the Pentecostal churches is an important one. The response is predicated on one's definition of political. To many Pentecostals, as well as many social scientists, their presence and ministry in our inner-city constitute a powerful social force with significant political implications. Pentecostal churches are beginning to find their community and political voice. ...

   As founding director (1976-1990) of the Center for Urban Ministerial Education, I have been deeply concerned with urban leadership development. It has been my special calling to challenge the church, particularly the Latino church, to become more involved with the socio-cultural issues of our day. Recently, as a board member of the Organizing and Leadership Training Center, I have encouraged Latino Pentecostals and other Protestant churches to participate with other churches and synagogues in broad-based community organizing. These groups can deal effectively with jobs, schools and crime issues that affect members of their churches and others in the community.

  In Boston an emerging Pentecostal leadership is leading a quiet Latino revolution. They are the authentic grass-root leaders who are often overlooked and may not represent the Latino political elite, but who must be embraced by all who would serve our community.

The Rev. Dr. Eldin Villafaņe is Professor of Christian Social Ethics at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary and founder of its Center for Urban Ministerial Education. He also is a leader in the Assemblies of God and a longtime friend of CSCO.


Return to Homepage

  CSCO, P.O. Box 60123, Dayton, OH 45406; email: cscocbco@charter.net phone: 937-276-4077