According to an estimate by the U.S. Census Bureau, Hispanics will compose 15.5 percent of the total population in America by the end of 2010. Numbers are not expected to go down. By 2020, the Census Bureau projects there will be 59.7 Latinos in America, constituting 15.5 percent of the total American population.
Apart from internal growth, the influx of Latino/a immigrants is a big factor to the growth of the Latino/a population.
In light of this, it is important to know about the culture, beliefs and practices of the Latino Community because the Latino population will be playing a big part of America’s future, as it already has started to do.
Whether people know it or not, Faith is one of the biggest components of the Hispanic Community. What faith?
Catholicism use to be the most influential religious and Christian belief in the Hispanic Community, but in recent years there has been a growing amount of Hispanic converting to evangelism.
According to a Pew Survey cited by the Miami Herald, 1.3 million of Hispanic Immigrants, who were raised Catholic, that came to the U.S. in 2008 have become part of Pentecostal Churches. NOT ALL CHRISTIAN HISPANICS ARE PENTECOSTALS, but there is a good chunk of them that are.
Out of this list of these five churches, five of these churches practice a Pentecostal form of Christianity, although not all of them practice it completely the same exact way.
Pentecostalism is a vibrant form of Christian Worship where believers seek the active flow of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Miracles, healing, liberations, speaking in tongues and prophecy are some of the elements that can be seen at these churches.
1.) Ministerio Internacional El Rey Jesus
(independent Pentecostal, New Apostalic Reformation Tradition)
Pastors: Guillermo and Ana Maldonado
Location: Miami, Florida
Called for pastoral ministry, Guillermo and his wife, Ana Maldonado, opened the doors of their home and began meeting with a small group of 12 in June 1996. Since then, the once small group has grown to become a congregation of more than 10,000 members. Moving from banquet halls to Synagogues to congregate and worship, the church found itself moving locations because of its continual growth until it reached its current location that seats 7,000 people, but plans are still being made for continued expansion.
Though faithful and steadfast in their service to their congregants and ministry, Guillermo and Ana Maldonado, as well as the Pastors of the other churches on this list, credit God and his supernatural leadership of the church for the church’s growth.
While there are those that oppose Pentecostal beliefs, some of El Rey Jesus most pivotal moments as a ministry have come about during times of actively seeking the active guidance of the Holy Spirit. For instance, in 1999, Cindy Jacobs spoke a word of prophecy to Pastor Guillermo Maldonado, prophesying that God was going to give the church a Jewish Synagogue. On December 10, 1999, El Rey Jesus purchased a Synagogue Kendall, Florida for $3 million dollars with a capacity for 1,500 people.
In December 2000, Cathy Lechner prophesied that God would give the church some land at the entrance of the city. Land was found according to the details given in the prophecy in a piece of land right in front of the airport of Tamiami. In 2001, Cathy Lechner, gave the church a prophetic word, telling the church to start constructing without taking any loan. Construction began on June 1, 2004, while the church continued to thrive with more than 8, 000 people attending services. The construction of “Templo Tamiami” ended approximately four years later and cost approximately $18 million. The structure is still used today and seats approximately 7,000 people.
Apart from the growth of church, El Rey Jesus’ ministry’s impact can be most seen in the Cap, an annual, an apostolic and Pentecostal conference hosted by the church, which attracted more than 13,000 people in 2009.
In 2009, Pastor Guillermo Maldonado was honored with the privilege of presiding as a Guest Chaplain in the House of Representatives.
Congresssman Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida introduced as the Guest Chaplain to the House of Representatives with the following: “Madam Speaker, Pastor Guillermo Maldonado is the founder of El Rey Jesus International Ministry in Miami, Florida. It is recognized as the largest Hispanic church in the entire country.
He, along with his wife, Ana Maldonado, who is joining us today in the gallery, are spiritual leaders for so many in our community. His dedication and commitment to serving God and to serving his fellow man is, frankly, unparalleled.”
2.) Templo Calvario
(Assemblies of God)
Pastors: Danny and Ruth de León
Location: Santa Ana, California
Size: 10,000+ (Estimate of Hispanic congregation), the combination of church membership of the English and Spanish Congregation is more than 14,000.
Templo Calvario (Spanish for “Calvary Temple”) is a church with a rich history. Founded in 1926, amidst a massive Mexican Immigration boom, Templo Calvario’s first meetings were held in a small building at the corner of Fifth and Artesia Streets (later renamed Raitt Street) in Santa Ana, California. Not named “Templo Calvario” but “Mission Pentecostes” at the time, the small church was faithfully pastored by Reverend Francisco Nieblas, the small church’s founding pastor.
In the proceeding years that followed, Templo Calvario continued to grow and expand as an integral part of the community under the leadership the eight pastors that followed Nieblas in pastoring the church. Under the leadership of Reverend Juan Marvel (1935-1937), the church affiliated itself with the Assemblies of God on May 5, 1936. Under the leadership of the other pastors that pastored the church, Templo Calvario purchased and constructed facilities for places of worship, had great tent-revival meetings and planted churches. In 1976, Reverend Daniel De Leon, who is the present day pastor of the church, began his tenure as the church’s pastor.
In 1985, the church dedicated a sanctuary, with a capacity seating of 1,550, with the presence distinguished individuals as well as the presence of Billy Graham, who gave the keynote address at the dedication.
Recently, in June 2009, the church celebrated the debut of a new building with seating capacity of 3,000, which took approximately five years to finish.
3.) La Iglesia En El Camino
(International Church of the Foursquare Gospel)
Pastors: Jim and Alice Tolle
Location: Van Nuys, California
In October 1999, Pastor Jack Hayford passed down his post as the senior pastor of the Church on the Way to his son-in-law and longtime partner in ministry, Scott Bauer. Scott Bauer came to the church with a new vision, to open up a new spanish congregation and to open a new extension of the church up north in Santa Clarita, California.
In 2000, Scott Bauer, the senior pastor of the Church On the Way, asked Jim “Jaime” Tolle to start a new Spanish congregation. Jim Tolle accepted Bauer’s invitation and “La Iglesia En El Camino”(Spanish for “The Church On the Way”) began on February 15, 2000 with 50 people.
Since then to the present, La Iglesia En El Camino continues to grow at a fast and unprecedented rate. By 2004, the church had an astounding congregation of approximately 5,000 members. Apart from growing as a church, La Iglesia En El Camino became a vital part of the community of Los Angeles throughout the decade, conducting youth conferences, outreach events that attracted thousands, and even hosting meetings with the Los Angeles Police department in addressing issues of crime. In 2008, the church’s Christmas presentation alone attracted more than 16,000 people, according to Fuerza Latina.
In 2009, the church’s pastor, Jim Tolle delivered the benediction at the second inauguration of Antonia Villaraigoisa as the mayor of the city of Los Angeles.
4.) Lakewood Hispanic Church
(non-denominational, Pentecostal Tradition)
Pastors: Marcos and Miriam Lee Witt
Location: Houston, Texas
The name “Lakewood” sound familiar? If it does, then it’s because it’s the name of the largest church in America. Pastored by Joel Osteen, the church, as of the end of 2009, has a weekly attendance of 43,500 people, according to Outreach Magazine. What most people don’t know, however, is that there is somewhere between 8,000 to 10,000, maybe even more, people that are a part of the church’s Spanish Congregation.
A prominent worship leader in the Hispanic community, Marcos Witt, whose reputation in the Hispanic Community can almost can be compared to the reputations of Chris Tomlin and Michael W. Smith combined, joined Lakewood’s staff after Joel Osteen, straight out of the blue, invited him to be a part of the church’s staff, while the two were at a Houston Astros Baseball Game.
“It was one of those God things,” Witt told Charisma Magazine.
Since then, the church’s Spanish Congregation’s been making history alongside its English counterpart.
5.) Iglesia Segadores de Vida
Pastors: Ruddy and Maria Gracia
Location: Hollywood, Florida
Feeling a calling by God, Pastors Ruddy and Maria Gracia obediently adhered to this calling and began holding meetings in their small apartment in 1992. The small church endeavored to reach out to its community, evangelizing the lost and discipling believers. The church’s home groups, “H.E.C.H.O.S.” (Hispanics in Every Home Offering Salvation), played a big role in this endeavor.
Almost two decades later, Iglesia Segadores de Vida, now a church of more than 7,000, is still remaining consistent to its mission to reach out and discipling those within the church.
(Iglesia Segadores de Vida is Spanish for “Church Sowers of Life”.)
Other notably large and growing Hispanic Christian Churches:
Las Vegas, Nevada
Gilbert and Zulma Velez
Iglesia el Calvario
Saturnino “Nino” González
Jesucristo El Todopoderoso
Oscar and Stella Agüero
La Cathedral Del Pueblo
Iglesia De Restauración- Elim
Rene and Hanelory Molina
Los Angeles, California
Chris and Haydeé Richards
El Paso, Texas
Cathedral de Cristal
Dante and Liliana Gebel
Garden Grove, California
-Johnson, Peter K. “The Latinos are Coming”. Charisma Magazine. 28 February 2003.
-Kaleem, Jaweed. “Pastor Stirs Crowd of 13,000 at Miami Event”. Miami Herald. 10 October 2009.
-Leal, Fermin. “Templo Calvario Debuts New $11 Million Sanctuary”. The Orange County Register. 5 July 2009.
-Uranga, Rachel. “More Latino Catholics Turning to Evangelism”. Los Angeles Daily News. 28 March 2004.
-“Pastor of America’s Preeminent Hispanic Congregation to Oversee Pentecostal Network”. Hispanic PR Wire. 19 November 2009.
-Jiménez, William. “‘Los Angeles en Navidad’ Reunió a más de 16 mil personas”. Fuerza Latina. January 2009.
-“100 Largest and Fastest Growing Churches in America”. Outreach Magazine. 2009.
-“The History-King Jesus International Ministry”. kingjesusministry.org
-“Our History”. http://templocalvario.com/
-“Our History”. http://www.segadores.com/newlayout/english/sites/about/history.html
(This list has been composed after careful research, not on any previously made listing of large Hispanic churches of 2009. The size of the churches are based upon the mention of their sizes on published newspaper and magazine articles, press releases, surveys made from other organizations, and online articles and the church’s mention of their sizes in their websites. Congregations who have had no real mention of their size in any of this media is likely to be overlooked but not intentionally.)