By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
Many churches have successfully accommodated the changing face of their congregations, and in the process, expanded their ministries and established ties with other ethnic groups. For the past five years, Crenshaw Christian Center, whose 18,000-member congregation is composed almost entirely of African-Americans, has provided translation and headphones for its small but growing Latino membership during services, and also sponsors an active Latino ministry.
At First Baptist, which is in an area that is primarily Latino and Korean, Anglos constitute a hefty 44 percent of the membership, with blacks, Latinos and Asians making up the remainder. Services are held with the aid of an unusual system of simultaneous transmission. So far it’s worked well, according to associate pastor Kenneth Kho, "except," he adds with a chuckle, "when the translators pull a no-show."
The case of Immanuel Presbyterian, an enormous cathedral located in the heart of Koreatown, is similar to many inner-city churches, both large and small, in this era of changing demographics. Facilities and expenses are shared among Korean, Ethiopian and Latino congregations, who often hold services at the same time in different parts of the building. "There is a healthy tension that is caused by so many different kinds of people being around," says administrator Rod Sprott, "but the arrangement has been beneficial for everybody."
The ’92 uprising galvanized L.A.’s religious community to seek answers and to establish dialogue with other ethnic and religious groups. It was in this climate of introspection and reconciliation that the InterFaith Coalition To Heal L.A. was founded by Rabbi Harvey Fields. "We did some very successful work in the area of improving relations," he says, pointing out that the group disbanded because there were other qualified organizations, such as the Human Rights Commission and the Inter-Religious Council of Southern California, that were working in the same arena. Today there is much more interaction at the grassroots level among and between different religious groups, but, he says, there’s still work to be done. The need now is for a permanently funded entity, particularly in today’s complex environment.
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