MULTICULTURAL CHURCHES & Catholic researchers of multicultural parishes share the best ways to create growing multicultural communities.

by Peter Feuerherd, NC Reporter, 6/14/18.

Brett Hoover and Hosffman Ospino, two experts on multicultural ministry from both coasts, agree: The church needs to get this right as it moves into a future with a declining base of white Catholics.

For Hoover and Ospino, there are elements to watch out for as parishes attempt to incorporate different ethnic groups.

Let leadership emerge.

Ospino, a native of Colombia and professor of religious studies at Boston College, conceded that not every pastor or parish leader can be bilingual. But anyone with cultural sensitivity can allow leadership to percolate from ethnic groups.

Being hospitable doesn’t need translation.

Hoover once met a parish usher, “a person of great heart,” who knew no Spanish, but was able to communicate a warm welcome to everyone who entered the church via gestures and smiles.

Share faith stories.

Ospino, author of a forthcoming book from Fordham University Press titled Cultural Diversity and Paradigm Shifts in Latino Congregations, suggests that people from all groups in a parish occasionally come together to share faith experiences. Different views, for example, on how Catholics of all nationalities approach the Blessed Mother is a good faith icebreaker.

“Ask people to tell their stories,” said Ospino. “In religious education, some people go straight to doctrine.” Better, he said, to explore together questions such as “What does our Lady of Guadalupe mean to you?”

Be prepared for culture clash.

“For most of us, our parish is the Catholic world,” said Hoover. Newcomers from different cultures will, by definition, see Catholic culture and practice in a different light. “It’s the culture clashes that irritate people,” he said.

In his extensive studies of Catholic bicultural parishes, Hoover frequently finds himself in a bridge role. Simple items, such as the use of collection envelopes, carry cultural baggage. Mexicans are used to giving to the church, but not so much in weekly Sunday Mass settings. Tradition there focuses on particular celebrations.

Demographic trends are creating grief in the wider culture.

Immigrants are unsettled by their experience. Those who have been in the U.S. for a while can resent the loss of how things “used to be.” Multicultural parishes can be “crucibles of grief” for all kinds of cultural anxieties, said Hoover, an anxiety that is being played out in American politics and social life.

Parish leaders need to be aware that many white Catholics, perhaps the majority, voted for President Donald Trump. For Latinos, the president’s immigration policies are often viewed as a personal threat.

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CHURCH ATTENDANCE & Gallup research: Percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply & those professing no religious identity, up to 20% from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Weekly church attendance has declined among U.S. Catholics in the past decade, while it has remained steady among Protestants.

graph 1

From 2014 to 2017, an average of 39% of Catholics reported attending church in the past seven days. This is down from an average of 45% from 2005 to 2008 and represents a steep decline from 75% in 1955.

By contrast, the 45% of Protestants who reported attending church weekly from 2014 to 2017 is essentially unchanged from a decade ago and is largely consistent with the long-term trend.

… Currently, the rate of weekly church attendance among Protestants and Catholics is similar at most age levels. One exception is among those aged 21 to 29, with Protestants (36%) more likely than Catholics (25%) to say they have attended in the past seven days.

Protestants’ Pie Is Shrinking Faster Than Catholics’

While attracting parishioners to weekly services is vital to the maintenance of the Catholic Church and Protestant denominations alike, so too is maintaining a large base of Americans identifying with each faith group.

Although the rate at which Protestants attend church has held firm over the past six decades, the percentage of Americans identifying as Protestant has declined sharply, from 71% in 1955 to 47% in the mid-2010s. Since 1999, Gallup’s definition of Protestants has included those using the generic term “Christian” as well as those calling themselves Protestant or naming a specific Protestant faith.

By contrast, while the Catholic Church has suffered declining attendance in the U.S., the overall percentage of Catholics has held fairly steady — largely because of the growth of the U.S. Hispanic population. Twenty-two percent of U.S. adults today identify as Catholic, compared with 24% in 1955.

A troubling sign for both religions is that younger adults, particularly those aged 21 to 29, are less likely than older adults to identify as either Protestant or Catholic. This is partly because more young people identify as “other” or with other non-Christian religions, but mostly because of the large proportion — 33% — identifying with no religion.

Bottom Line

…Although weekly attendance among Protestants has been stable, the proportion of adults identifying as Protestants has shrunk considerably over the past half-century. And that trend will continue as older Americans are replaced by a far less Protestant-identifying younger generation.

All of this comes amid a broader trend of more Americans opting out of formal religion or being raised without it altogether. In 2016, Gallup found one in five Americans professing no religious identity, up from as little as 2% just over 60 years ago.

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DENOMINATIONS & Largest 25 Denominations/Communions from the 2012 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches.

Total church membership reported in the 2012 Yearbook is 145,691,446 members, down 1.15 percent over 2011.

1. The Catholic Church 68,202,492, [ranked 1 in 2011] , down 0.44 percent.
2. Southern Baptist Convention 16,136,044, [ranked 2 in 2011] , down 0.15 percent.
** Since the 2010 census of nondenominational/independent congregations, we now know that this grouping of churches, if taken together, would be the second largest Protestant group in the country with over 35,000 congregations and over 12,200,000 adherents.
3. The United Methodist Church 7,679,850, [ranked 3 in 2011] , down 1.22 percent.
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints 6,157,238, [ranked 4 in 2011], up 1.62 percent.
5. The Church of God in Christ 5,499,875, [ranked 5 in 2011] , no update reported.
6. National Baptist Convention , U.S.A. , Inc. 5,197,512, [ranked 6 in 2011] , up 3.95 percent.
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America 4,274,855, [ranked 7 in 2011] , down 5.90 percent.
8. National Baptist Convention of America , Inc. 3,500,000, [ranked 8 in 2011] , no update reported.
9. Assemblies of God 3,030,944, [ranked 9 in 2011] , up 3.99 percent.
10. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) 2,675,873, [ranked 10 in 2011] , down 3.42 percent.
11. African Methodist Episcopal Church 2,500,000, [ranked 11 in 2011] , no update reported.
12. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America 2,500,000, [ranked 11 in 2011] , no update reported.
13. The Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod (LCMS) 2,278,586, [ranked 13 in 2011] , down 1.45 percent.
14. The Episcopal Church 1,951,907, [ranked 14 in 2011] , down 2.71 percent.
15. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc. 1,800,000, ranked 15 [ranked 17 in 2011] , up 20 percent.
16. Churches of Christ 1,639,495, [ranked 15 in 2011] , no update reported.
17. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America 1,500,000 , [ranked 16 in 2011] , no update reported.
18. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church 1,400,000, [ranked 18 in 2011] , no update reported.
19. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A. 1,308,054, [ranked 19 in 2011] , down 0.19 percent.
20. Jehovah’s Witnesses 1,184,249, [ranked 20 in 2011] , up 1.85 percent.
21. Church of God ( Cleveland , Tennessee ) 1,074,047, [ranked 22 in 2011] , down 0.21 percent.
22. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ 1,071,616, [ranked 23 in 2011] , no update reported.
23. Seventh-day Adventist Church 1,060,386, [ranked 24 in 2011] , up 1.61 percent.
24. United Church of Christ 1,058,423, [ranked 21 in 2011], down 2.02 percent.
25. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. 1,010,000, [ranked 25 in 2011 ], no update reported.
Total membership in top 25 churches: 145,691,446, down 1.15 percent.

Membership figures reported in the 2012 Yearbook were collected by the churches in 2010 and reported to the Yearbook in 2011.

Nine of the 25 largest churches did not report updated figures: the Church of God in Christ; the National Baptist Convention of America, Inc.; the African Methodist Episcopal Church; the National Missionary Baptist Convention of America; Churches of Christ; the Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc.; the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church; and Christian Churches and Churches of Christ.

The 2012 Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches reports on 228 national church bodies. The Yearbook also includes a directory of 235 U.S. local and regional ecumenical bodies with program and contact information and provides listings of theological seminaries and bible schools, religious periodicals and guides to religious research including church archive listings.

For more information, or to purchase a copy of the 2012 Yearbook, see

The Hartford Institute for Church Research, retrieved from, 11/9/16.

CHURCH PLANTING & The Important Challenge of Largely Agnostic Metros

The Top Two Religious Groups That Dominate American Cities

By Joanna Piacenza, Robert P. Jones, American Values Atlas, 8/30/15.

Earlier this year, we took a look at the top three religious traditions that dominate the U.S. Now, using the metro areas variable of the American Values Atlas (AVA), we turn to our country’s cities, where we find a similar trend: Catholics and the religiously unaffiliated dominate.

Here’s the breakdown:

* Catholicism is the top religious group—or tied for the top religious group—in 15 of the major metro areas.
* The religiously unaffiliated is the top “religious” group—or tied for the top religious group—in 10 of the major metro areas.
* And don’t forget about white evangelical Protestants, who take the top prize in six of the major metro areas.
* Atlanta is the only metro area that doesn’t have Catholics, the religiously unaffiliated, or white evangelical Protestants in the number one slot; that prize goes to black Protestants.


Here are a few other facts we learned:

* Urban areas attract the unaffiliated; the religiously unaffiliated are among the top three religious groups in every metro area polled.
* Catholics also love cities; Catholicism is among the top three religious groups for nearly every metro area—only Nashville, Charlotte, Indianapolis, Kansas City, and Atlanta don’t have Catholics among the top three.
* In every metro area where Catholicism takes number one, religiously unaffiliated takes number two.
* All but nine metro areas have Catholicism and the religiously unaffiliated in the top two.
* Nashville has the largest percentage of one singular religious group: nearly four in ten (38 percent) residents identify as white evangelical Protestant.
* Portland has the largest percentage of one singular “religious” group: 42 percent identify as religiously unaffiliated.

Explore more of the AVA here.

Metro areas are based on U.S. Census Bureau definitions of Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). The metro areas may include both urban and non-urban populations. For instance, the Boston metro area encompasses the Boston-Cambridge-Newton, MA-NH Metropolitan Statistical Area.

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HISPANICS & Percent of Hispanic Adults Who Identify as Protestant #Chart #PewResearch

The Shifting Religious Identity of Latinos in the United States


Although most U.S. Hispanics continue to belong to the Roman Catholic Church, the Catholic share of the Hispanic population is declining, according to a national survey of more than 5,000 Hispanics. Meanwhile, rising numbers of Hispanics say they are Protestant or are unaffiliated with any religion. Indeed, 24% of Hispanic adults are now former Catholics, with changes in religious affiliation occurring primarily among Latinos ages 18 to 49. Among Latino immigrants who have switched religions, about half did so before coming to the U.S. The survey also finds that in every major religious group, more Latinos favor the Democratic Party than the Republican Party, though there are some differences in party affiliation across groups.

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HISPANICS & Religious Affiliation, By Hispanic Origin Group #InfoGraphic #PewResearch

FT_14.05.27_ReligiousAffiliation2BY JENS MANUEL KROGSTAD

The share of Latino adults who identify as Catholic is declining as the share of Protestants and the religiously unaffiliated rise. Today, 55% of Latinos say they are Catholic, a drop of 12 percentage points in the last four years, while the share of those who are Protestant and unaffiliated with any religion has risen, according to a Pew Research Center survey of Latino adults.

But differences exist among Hispanics when they are looked at by their country of origin: Mexicans and Dominicans are more likely than most other Hispanic origin groups to say they are Catholic. Meanwhile, Salvadorans are more likely to say they are evangelical Protestant than Mexicans, Cubans and Dominicans.

Among the nation’s 53 million Hispanics, some 64% are of Mexican origin. The next biggest group, those of Puerto Rican origin, accounts for 9% of Hispanics in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Three other origin groups—Cubans, Salvadorans and Dominicans —each make up at least 3% of Hispanics in the U.S.

About six-in-ten Mexicans (61%) and Dominicans (59%) identify as Catholic, compared with about 49% of Cubans, 45% of Puerto Ricans and 42% of Salvadorans. Some one-third of Salvadorans are evangelical Protestants.

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