Pentecostal Faith and Spirituality in Guatemala


Stacey Carr

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During the summer of 2003, I traveled to Guatemala City to investigate why Pentecostalism, a new and fast growing Protestantreligious expression in Latin America, was so influential in the lives of Guatemalans. Using participate observation in many different church services and events, interviews from pastors and other church members, as well as reading many newspapers and observing the overall religious way of life in Guatemala, I found some answers to my questions. Although it is traditionally aCatholic country, Guatemala is experiencing a religious, and possibly a social,change. The Pentecostal movement, which focuses on the gifts, powers, and manifestations of the Holy Spirit, presents the bible and spirituality in a way that Catholic churches have not been able to do. People are starting to see how their faith can be their own, because they understand it and are experiencing change, women are given opportunities for leadership, andthe poor are being welcomed and cared for. The movement is growing rapidly, with many churches building churches to fit thousands of people. I did notice Catholic and Protestant (called "Christian") tension, which gave me wider perspective on what the people think about the changing religious atmosphere. The experience has left me with so many thingsto ponder and analyze,in terms of what is happening in the society, as well asspiritually. For my Sociology senior comprehensive project, I will be expanding on my findings and focusing on how Pentecostalism is beginning to challenge the social norms of Catholicism by using cellbible studygroups, the empowerment of women, and wide evangelical advertising.


D. Keith Naylor




The Paul K. and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Trust

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