Sunday, January 14, 2007

A Sliver of a Storefront, a Faith on the Rise

David Gonzalez reports in today's New York Times on the rise of Pentecostalism, focusing on Harlem's Pentecostal Church Ark of Salvation for the New Millennium.
Though Pentecostalism, a strain of evangelical Christianity, was born a century ago in Kansas and is often associated with the stereotypical “holy rollers” of the Bible Belt, it has made deep inroads in Asia and Africa. In this hemisphere, its numbers and growth are strongest among Latinos in the United States and in Latin America, where it is eroding the traditional dominance of the Roman Catholic Church.

Experts believe there are roughly 400 million Pentecostals worldwide, and this year, the number in the city is expected to surpass 850,000 — about one in every 10 New Yorkers, one-third of them Hispanic.

Among the former Catholics in the story is the Rev. Danilo Florian, pastor of Ark of Salvation.
"We are not complacent," Pastor Florian explained. "We are more ambitious than Rockefeller."

Around the corner is the Church of the Annunciation, a thriving Catholic parish where Mexicans and Dominicans make up most of the roughly 1,100 worshipers who fill its sanctuary on Sundays.

Its pastor, the Rev. Jose Maria Clavero, knows that the Catholic Church has lost many Latinos to Pentecostalism, but he sees those converts as nominal Catholics who were never part of any parish. "If they are taking in people who were not anywhere, blessed be God," he said. "At least they are in church."


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