Emmanuel Spanish United Methodist Church
(Iglesia Metodista Unida Emmanuel)

This profile was last updated in 2003

Activities and Schedule

Sunday school and services are held every Sunday, beginning at 10:45 a.m. and lasting until approximately 2:00 p.m. Bible Study and Youth Night are held on Wednesdays at 7:00 p.m.

Children are very important to the congregation. In addition to Bible study classes, the Church sponsors trips for the children to the local IMAX theater and to local parks.
There is a Church Council comprised of eight volunteers that meet on a regular basis.

History

The church was established in 1984 in response to the increase in Latinos in the Harrisburg area. The congregation originally met in a house on 13 St. before moving to its current home, a Methodist Church on 21st St.. The current minister, Rev. Edgardo Rivera, came to this church in September 2002.

Demographics

Many of the congregants are first generation Latin Americans, but there are also a number of immigrants. Ethnicities include Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Hondurans, Columbians, and Mexicans. All ages attend the church. The main languages are Spanish and English. The service is spoken completely in Spanish. The Sunday school program is bilingual; although speaking Spanish is very important, the main goal of the program is to also teach about the Methodist religion.

Description

The outside of the church is block-stone architecture with a single bell tower on the north west corner. The overall shape of the church is a rectangle with the main entrance on the west side in the form of two large wooden doors with equally large iron rings for the handles. The stained glass windows are on each side of the building but are much larger and more decorative on the sides that face streets than those that face the neighborhood homes.

Once inside the main doors there is a stairwell on the left, leading down to a small gymnasium or play area for the children. To the right is another stairwell that leads to one of (at least) two chapels in the church. Continuing on this stairwell, one reaches a balcony overlooking the main sanctuary. There is a cross centered on the wall in the front of the sanctuary. A smaller altar is used for the blessing of the bread and wine at the end of the service.
Rev. Rivera strives to make all of his congregants feel comfortable by blending different styles of music (including salsa and Caribbean) into the service. Musical instruments used in the service include a keyboard, drums, maracas, and tambourines. Before Rev. Rivera gives his sermon, all of the young children leave with one of the Sunday school teachers. They go into a side room for their own “special” sermon.
For those not fluent in Spanish, translation devices are available upon request. One of the congregants translates the service as it proceeds, allowing non-Spanish-speaking congregants to hear the English translation through their headphones.

Researchers

Julie Becker, Camie McComas, Charles Meade, Linda Principato, Monica Slovik (Prof. Shalom Staub, New American Religious Diversity, Dept. of Religion, Dickinson College)