A REPORT ON THE HISPANIC PROTESTANT
CHURCH GROWTH STUDY OF 1993
by Clifton L. Holland, Director of PROLADES
(revised May 1, 1998)
In 1992-1993 the author conducted a study of Hispanic Protestant Church Growth in the USA for the Hispanic Association of Bilingual-Bicultural Ministries (HABBM). At that time, we compiled a national mailing list of Hispanic Protestant congregations from a variety of sources, which HABBM agreed to maintain and update on a regular basis. We also produced a report entitled, "An Update on the National Study of Hispanic Protestant Church Growth in the USA" (October 13, 1993). This report was presented to the HABBM Board of Directors for their information and study. A copy of this report can probably be obtained from the President of the Board of Directors, the Rev. Danny de Leon , senior pastor of Templo Calvario in Santa Ana, CA (affiliated with the Assemblies of God).
This report includes information on 6,837 Hispanic Protestant congregations in the USA (Puerto Rico excluded), with the majority related to about 30 denominations. However, about 130 denominations are known to have some Hispanic work, as evidenced by having one or more related local Hispanic congregations. Also, about 170 congregations were considered to be independent congregations, with no known denominational affiliation.
My organization has had a major role in keeping the national Hispanic church mailing list up-to-date with a least one national mailing each year since 1993. For these mailings, we have used the "Address Correction Requested" and "Return Postage Guaranteed" options so that we can delete non-deliverables and make the necessary address corrections to the master list. Currently, this database has about 6,500 listings for the whole USA (excluding Puerto Rico).
The Protestant denominations with the largest number of Hispanic congregations were the following (1992 statistics): click here We have also produced a series of computer-generated maps showing the distibution (data points) of 6,500 Hispanic congregations in the USA by states and counties (using the centroid of each county). We created a series of similar maps showing the distribution of Hispanic congregations in the Los Angeles 5-county region, using data points based on 9-digit zip codes: Click here to view maps Last year (1997) the author produced a table on the size and growth rates of the Protestant population in 25 countries of Latin America, including Hispanics in the USA. This chart is available on our website; also it was included in the October-December 1997 issue of the Latin American Evangelist magazine, published by the Latin America Mission in Miami, FL. This table was based on population projections for July 1995 by the United Nations; the estimates on the size of the Protestant population in each country, the number of Protestant congregations, and the average annual growth rate of the Protestant population were made by PROLADES: Click here to view population table
Regarding the Hispanic population in the USA, the following estimates are given for mid-1995:
The estimated number of Hispanic Protestant congregations in the USA (see above) is probably high, but this estimate includes Hispanic congregations that are autonomous (with their own pastor and facilities) as well as Hispanic Departments in other churches (Anglo, Black, Korean, etc.). For example, the American Baptists have at least as many Hispanic Departments in Anglo churches as there are autonomous Hispanic congregations within their denomination. Also, although the Assemblies of God reported 1,268 autonomous Hispanic congregations within their various Hispanic Districts (Pacific Latin American District, etc.), no one knows how many Anglo Assembly of God churches have Hispanic Departments across the USA. Dr. Jesse Miranda and other Hispanic A/G leaders believe that there are at least as many Hispanic Departments in Anglo A/G churches as there are autonomous Hispanic A/G congregations. In addition, there are probably many more independent Hispanic congregations throughout the USA than we discovered in our research in the early 1990s. A more conservative estimate of the total number of Hispanic Protestant congregations in the USA would be between 15,000-18,000 for 1995.
In conversations and discussions with national Hispanic leaders and their Anglo counterparts in major denominations, the author has come to the conclusion that:
(1) More than half of all Hispanics in the USA are bilingual or prefer English as their first language. These are predominantly the second-generation of native-born U.S. citizens who have been educated in the public or private school systems in the U.S.; this would also apply to the third, fourth, etc., generations of Hispanics in the U.S.
(2) More than half of all Hispanics who are active in Protestant churches in the U.S. attend predominantly English-speaking Anglo congregations.
(3) The other 50% of active Hispanic Protestants attend predominantly Spanish-speaking or bilingual churches, either autonomous Hispanic congregations or Hispanic Departments in Anglo, Black or Korean churches.
(4) Another reality is that growing numbers Hispanics (as defined by the U.S. Bureau of the Census) are becoming nominal in their religious affiliation, whether Catholic or Protestant. In other words, they don't attend religious services as often as they used to, although those who claim to be Protestant report more frequent church attendance than Catholics according to public opinion polls.
(5) My estimates on the size of the Hispanic Protestant population in the U.S. are based on a series of studies done by Gallup and other national polling organizations during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s. My projection for 1995 is consistant with the annual growth rate reported by Gallup and others for the Hispanic Protestant population in the U.S.