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Groundbreaking new report proves vital contributions of Latino church to social safety net

Urban Strategies

Data from a 2021 survey highlights the need for increased funding and national research on funding Hispanic faith organizations and the adoption of a six-point action plan.

WASHINGTON — A new report released today, based on a national survey that sought to quantify the specific contributions of the Hispanic church, shows the increasingly important role that churches and faith-based organizations play in the social welfare of Hispanic communities, with 94% of Hispanic churches and faith-based organizations providing a wide array of social services for community residents. The report outlines six key recommendations.

“How Latino Congregations Are Transforming Communities”, released by The Brown Church Institute, Fuller Centro Latino, and Urban Strategies, found that a glaring lack of government funding is received by Latino churches and faith-based organizations, despite the $21.3 billion budget designated by the government for social services. A  growing number of churches are devoting more of their annual budgets to community serving efforts, or activities conducted by the church aimed at the benefit of non-church members in the geographic area surrounding the church, even though 75% of these organizations operate under restricted budgets not exceeding $300,000 per year. 

The report’s authors argue that this data and policy gap will have wide ramifications, and increased funding and resources for Latino churches and faith-based organizations can have a significant impact.

Congregations played an especially important role in supporting the United States’ social safety in communities of color during the COVID-19 pandemic. As numerous studies have shown, COVID-19 has had a disproportionate impact on communities of color, including tragically higher death rates. The report gives evidence of Latino churches serving as “first responders” during the COVID-19 crisis, providing services related to housing, food distribution, pastoral counseling, public health activities, financial literacy, immigration, and others.

The review concludes with six recommended national action steps that range from leveraging Hispanic congregations as partners to meet the diverse healthcare needs of the underserved Hispanic community, to pastoral training in mental health care, to the creation of a national database of Latino social service providers. The report authors argue that the importance of Latino churches and faith-based organizations as well as other churches of color to the social safety net of the United States will become heightened over time because of the rapid numerical decline of white churches and denominations.

“Latino, African American, African, and Asian communities in the United States represent the future growth and numerical vitality of the country, and its congregations are well-positioned to fill the growing needs that will arise,” states the “How Latino Congregations are Transforming Communities” report. One in three American evangelicals is now a person of color, while one-quarter of all Christians in the United States come from first-generation immigrant families. It is vital to plan for the preservation of the social safety net that these communities will provide.

“How Latino Congregations are Transforming Communities” is available for download at: www.urbanstrategies.us/resources

About The Brown Church Institute:
The Brown Church tradition embodies five centuries of Latina/o social justice, theology, and identity. Drawing from the rich spiritual heritage, and from the expertise of Latina/o pastoral and academic thought leaders and practitioners from throughout the country, the Brown Church specializes in religious training, education, and research at the intersection of race, justice, and the Latina/o community. Learn more at https://brownchurch.institute/.

About Fuller Centro Latino:
The vision of the Centro Latino is to offer the Latin church and its global community contextualized Christian knowledge, transformational spiritual formation, and a host of cross-cultural and interdenominational interactions that forge organic and effective leadership in the Kingdom of God. For the past 44 years, Centro Latino has faithfully formed hundreds of women and men throughout the Americas and the world for Kingdom of God vocations. Learn more at https://www.fuller.edu/centro-latino/.

About Urban Strategies:
Urban Strategies was founded to equip, resource, and connect faith- and community-based organizations that are engaged in community transformation to help families reach their fullest potential. In addition to providing early childhood development and shelter and residential services to marginalized populations, Urban Strategies focuses on technical assistance and capacity building to help support communities of color, by bolstering the programmatic and administrative abilities of the organizations that serve them. During the last 20 years, Urban Strategies has facilitated programming through a national network of more 2,000 community-based partner organizations. Learn more at www.urbanstrategies.us.

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Contact:
Anna Castellanos
Urban Strategies
773.707.3295
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.

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