Document Type

Report

Publication Date

4-2007

Abstract

Mexicans, like all other ethnic groups that created the United States as a nation of immigrants, were adamant in establishing churches of their own. Ethnic religious affiliations were essentially of Judeo-Christian origin and benefited effectively from the tolerance of worship mandated by the Constitution. Freedom of belief was known, demanded, and exercised by all immigrants. For Mexican and other ethnic communities, religious belief and centers of worship were the very heart of their community and identity bonds, their source of strength and reason to persevere in a new society where multiple nationalities, cultures, languages, and ethnicities converged.

This report provides a historical account of three Christian churches in South Omaha: the Virgin of Guadalupe Catholic Church, Gethsemane Lutheran Church, and the First Assembly of God Church. Chronologically, the congregations were organized between 1918 and 1948. These churches first were small community gatherings in family sitting rooms and rented shops. All of them were and still are located in South Omaha, and all were established by the Mexican community. Today these churches serve all those who reside in the area or attend ceremonies and rituals: old and new Latinos, the most recent generations of immigrants (Czech, Hungarian, Italian, Poles, Russian, Lithuanians, et al.), and recent refugee communities from Africa.

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