Borderlands spirituality: practical theology and ministry in three Latino Protestant congregations
Franco, Ricardo L.
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Latino foreign born immigrants from Central and South America and the Dominican Republic represent around twenty percent of the Latino population in the United States. This wave of “Other Latinos/as” began to arrive in the late 1970s and early 1980s. This thesis explores the spiritual practices of three Latino Protestant congregations comprised mainly by first generation immigrants in the area of New England. Drawing from literature in spirituality studies, theology, and Latino/a studies, this thesis brings a religious and cultural analysis of Latino immigration through the lens of Gloria E. Anzaldúa’s spiritual theorizing of Borderlands as a Nepantla experience. The thesis, moreover, proposes pastoral practices of spiritual, ethnic identity, and community formation that are biblically and theologically informed, contextual, and transformative in response to the needs and particularities of these congregations. In analyzing data from the “Other Latinos/as” this study thus provides a needed corrective and supplement to the widespread notion of a monolithic Latino theology of spirituality based on the Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban immigrant experiences. The thesis also aims to move the conversation about Latino Protestant spirituality beyond the common stereotypes which describe it as festive, family oriented, and emotive towards a more nuanced understanding of the religious practices of these communities.