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Catholic Latinos Becoming Anglican

A recent article in VirtueOnline suggests that Texas has seen a recent shift in the number of Latinos shifting from attending Catholic to Anglican mass. Throughout Anglican churches in Texas, the article suggests, one will find statues or paintings of Our Lady of Guadalupe, a carryover from Catholicism that is welcomed in the Anglican congregations. The rates of conversion are hard to estimate. The article reads,

“Data on our Hispanic congregations is difficult to pinpoint simply because most of them are part of an Anglo congregation and the numbers are usually combined,” said Rev. Paul Lambert, Bishop Suffragan for the Diocese of Dallas to The Latino Post. “We are seeing a trend however, for more independence by the Hispanic congregations and we probably should encourage them to keep their membership numbers separate from Anglos. Theologically this is not productive since we all are one in Christ and there is no, as Paul says, ‘slave, nor free,’ and in this case no Spanish or Caucasian.”

Rev. Fabian Villalobos is the first Latino Rector of Christ Episcopal Church in the historic Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas. Coming from Bogotas, Columbia, he struggled to come to terms with the differences between South American and American Catholicism. The article continues,

“It was a very difficult process,” Villalobos said of leaving the Catholic faith and joining the Episcopal ranks. He comes from a tradition of believing that there is no salvation outside the Catholic faith.

“I was happy with my ministry, but I was not happy with the disciplinary side and the theology,” he says. “I was not happy with the fact that the Canon law was more important than the gospel. I could not be the priest that they wanted me to be.”

In what ways do cultural differences and theological interpretations affect how members interact with your congregation? Are you open to inviting new racial or ethnic groups to include their iconic symbols, such as Our Lady of Guadalupe? In what ways can you investigate shifting small, but important, cultural indicators to welcome different groups?

Ellen Childs
About the Author
Dr. Ellen Childs holds a Ph.D. in sociology from University of Notre Dame. She is Website Director at StudyingCongregations.org