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‘There is neither Latino nor Anglo’ in Christ, Miami church says

In Christ, “No hay Latino ni Anglo.”
In other words, “there is neither Latino nor Anglo.”
That’s the bilingual motto of the Sunset Church of Christ in Miami, featured recently as part of the Huffington Post’sFaith Shift” series.

For 19 years, Vanessa Pardo dutifully followed her parents to church on Sunday mornings, reciting prayers to padre nuestro and studying la Biblia, trying to figure out how the parables of Jesus applied to her life as a member of Iglesia de Cristo en Sunset, a booming Spanish-speaking congregation in this South Florida suburb.
While other kids her age drifted away from the faiths of their childhoods, Pardo was sure she believed in God. But as the daughter of Colombian and Nicaraguan immigrants, she wasn’t sure she fully understood him in Spanish, her second language — and a distant one at that.
So when the Protestant congregation instituted a controversial effort last year that included encouraging youth like Pardo to switch to worshipping separately in English, it immediately piqued her interest. She just had to break the news to her parents.
“It was never a faith of my own, it was ‘oh, my parents’ religion’ or ‘my family faith’ and I never saw the personal connection between me and God,” Pardo, now 20, said last Sunday after a service at Sunset Church of Christ, an English congregation that shares a building with the church of her childhood but has for much of its history operated separately from it. “I told them I wanted to go, but I told them I wanted to go in my own tongue and culture. Not theirs.”

Read the full story.
Vanessa Pardo’s father, Pedro, is one of the Sunset church’s elders. Her mother, Alicia, coordinates the women’s ministry for Spanish speakers.

Song books in English and Spanish line the pews at the Sunset Church of Christ in Miami. (Photo by Erik Tryggestad)

In 2011 we featured the Sunset congregation in our “Churches That Work” series, partly because of their efforts to unite Spanish and English speakers under the banner of Christ. Minister Jim Holway — a former missionary to Argentina who’s bilingual — talked about the church’s effort to be one congregation with two languages. (The story of Holway’s conversion, by the way, is remarkable.)
The Huffington Post story quotes Holway and Dan Rodriguez, associate professor of religion and Hispanic studies at Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., about the need to reach second- and third-generation U.S. Latinos. We’ve written several stories on the subject, many of them with input from Rodriguez:
• In mid-2012 Sarah Stirman covered a Latino church-planting summit where Rodriguez spoke at The Hills Church of Christ in North Richland Hills, Texas.
• In 2009 Bobby Ross Jr. featured California congregations working to combine two language groups into “one body.”
• In 2008 I wrote about the challenges facing churches as they try to serve the country’s “new Americans,” — children of immigrants from Latin America and other parts of the world, including Cambodia.

  • Feedback
    Clarification: Are they singing “Amazing Grace” in English and Spanish at the same time or is it one and then the other?
    Jason Goldtrap
    January, 3 2013

    This is a wonderful story. Just as the Bible teaches, “go ye therefore and teach all nations…” reminds me that the work of the Lord is still ongoing. It’s good to read about the various cultures coming together to know Christ, no matter what the difference in our race/ethnicity/culture is. It’s all about Christ and making heaven our home! I miss worshipping the Lord with my German brothers and sisters in Christ in Mannheim, GE. Every 3rd Sunday of the month, we came together to hear the word of the Lord and to sing praises to HIM in both languages, German and English. In preaching, we had an interpreter and/or the person would give handouts; in singing, the page numbers were written on the board from our German and English song books, and afterwards, we would have a fellowship meal together. Oh, what great love that was shown among us! CC, thanks for sharing the story and reassuring me of what “true Christians” are like.
    Sis Carlyle
    January, 4 2013

    Truly encouraging! I have been waiting for this and keep praying that all churches will have the same mindset some day.
    Stephan Kallus
    January, 4 2013

    Galatians 3:28 is the biggest bombshell verse in the New Testament when one considers the ways in which people were divided into classifications of importance. To say that “there is no longer Latino or Anglo” is an appropriate application of “neither Jew or Gentile.” Even though we are 2,000 years removed from that statement by Paul, it is amazing that we still struggle with its meaning and application. The three areas of relationship – ethnicity, gender, and socio-economic class- still challenge cultural practices today.
    Harold Williams
    January, 4 2013

    Thank you for sharing the HuffPost article and for your encouraging words!
    Jason Goldtrap, in our bilingual assemblies (conducted three or four times a year), we all sing in the same language and alternate between English and Spanish verses of each hymn. All prayers and talks are done bilingually, with most speakers translating themselves. (We have a high number of bilingual members.) In our language-specific assemblies, all singing and speaking in conducted in either English or Spanish.
    Jim Holway
    January, 4 2013

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