Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas to bridge national differences and generational divides at Iglesia de Dios Hispana de Nashville

7 p.m. Christmas Eve service, 1500 expected to attend

"To introduce assimilated youth to their ancestry"

The Tennessean reports today on the Christmas celebration of Iglesia de Dios Hispana de Nashville, which is also advertised in the above video.

National and generational divides within the church are designed to be bridged by way of the cultural components of the celebration, according to writer Chris Echegaray:
The different offerings provided insight to the variety in Latin American culture even though the Spanish language unites most of the congregants, [Bishop Jose] Rodriguez said. The food and beverages also provided a way to introduce assimilated youth to their ancestry.

"We have a lot who are born here with Latino ancestry, so we want them to know the customs," Rodriguez said. "It's a way to teach them and for us to learn from each other as well."
This Hispanic Christian generational gap is a fairly universal phenomenon in immigrant churches. My family experienced it at a Spanish-speaking Southern Baptist congregation we attended for two years in Nashville, with the elders fretting about the deteriorating Spanish language skills of the youth group, and David Park has live-blogged the statistic that "up to 95% of post high-school churchgoers leave the ethnic church." Bridget Rivera's piece on her Southern and Latina identities is also insightful.

This is not a new phenomenon - I've mentioned before the the German Christian generational gap in 1870's Nashville:
By 1870 most of the Germans in the city belonged to the second generation. ... These younger Germans were much less concerned with maintaining European ties and traditions than their parents were. ... [T]hey had grown up in Tennessee and many of them had a distinctly Southern point of view.
Other highlights from today's story about Iglesia de Dios Hispana de Nashville:
  • 7 p.m. Christmas Eve service
  • Marks a 15-year tradition at the church
  • Food and drink from all over Latin America
  • 1,500 people expected to attend
  • Posters and murals created just for the event
  • Food baskets and 1,000 toys to be distributed
  • Church plans move to 25-acre site in 2011
People mentioned:
  • Jose Rodriguez, Bishop
  • Wendy Bustamante, from El Salvador, talking about learning about Venezuelan food
  • Mireya Quezada, missionary director
Read the story in its entirety here.

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