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Latino Mennonites

Civil Rights, Faith, and Evangelical Culture

Felipe Hinojosa

Publication Year: 2014

Felipe Hinojosa's parents first encountered Mennonite families as migrant workers in the tomato fields of northwestern Ohio. What started as mutual admiration quickly evolved into a relationship that strengthened over the years and eventually led to his parents founding a Mennonite Church in South Texas. Throughout his upbringing as a Mexican American evangélico, Hinojosa was faced with questions not only about his own religious identity but also about broader issues of Latino evangelicalism, identity, and civil rights politics. Latino Mennonites offers the first historical analysis of the changing relationship between religion and ethnicity among Latino Mennonites. Drawing heavily on primary sources in Spanish, such as newspapers and oral history interviews, Hinojosa traces the rise of the Latino presence within the Mennonite Church from the origins of Mennonite missions in Latino communities in Chicago, South Texas, Puerto Rico, and New York City, to the conflicted relationship between the Mennonite Church and the California farmworker movements, and finally to the rise of Latino evangelical politics. He also analyzes how the politics of the Chicano, Puerto Rican, and black freedom struggles of the 1960s and 1970s civil rights movements captured the imagination of Mennonite leaders who belonged to a church known more for rural and peaceful agrarian life than for social protest. Whether in terms of religious faith and identity, race, immigrant rights, or sexuality, the politics of belonging has historically presented both challenges and possibilities for Latino evangelicals in the religious landscapes of twentieth-century America. In Latino Mennonites, Hinojosa has interwoven church history with social history to explore dimensions of identity in Latino Mennonite communities that points to a new way to think about the history of American evangelicalism.

Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. i-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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pp. ix-xiv

I was raised in a family of storytellers. I grew up hearing my father’s stories about his childhood in San Fernando, Tamaulipas, Mexico, and in South Texas. In the 1940s my father’s family immigrated to the United States, where they found work in the vegetable and shrimping industries...

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pp. xv-xviii

This book began as a graduate seminar paper for a class on comparative race and ethnicity taught by Luis Alvarez at the University of Houston. It has been a long road from there, but every step of the way I had the support and encouragement of friends, colleagues, and family...


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pp. xix-xxii

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Introduction: Interethnic Alliances, Sacred Spaces, and the Politics of Latino Evangelicalism

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pp. 1-14

As a young boy in South Texas in the 1950s, Samuel Hernandez liked going to the theater every Saturday to watch cowboy and Indian movies. The serials that ended with dramatic cliffhangers kept him coming back week after week. So when a good friend told him that the local...

Part I: Missions and Race

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Chapter 1. Building Up the Temple: Mennonite Missions in Mexican and Puerto Rican Barrios

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pp. 17-47

On the morning of March 10, 1936, Mennonite missionaries T. K. Hershey and William G. Detweiler loaded up their Ford V-8 pickup, bid farewell to their families in Pennsylvania, and began their trip to the borderlands of the United States and Mexico. From Texas to California...

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Chapter 2. Missionary Motives: Race and the Making of the Urban Racial Council

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pp. 48-72

Speaking at the Conference on Race Relations in Atlanta in 1964, Mennonite pastor and civil rights activist Vincent Harding shared the story of Presbyterian minister Eugene Carson Blake. In 1963 Blake had joined demonstrators in Baltimore who had long felt the stinging force of...

Part II: Black, Brown, and Mennonite

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Chapter 3. The Fight over Money: Latinos and the Black Manifesto

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pp. 75-97

Freshly appointed as executive secretary of the Urban Racial Council in 1969, John Powell found himself at the Bethel Mennonite Church in Chicago face to face with “Squeaky,” the leader of the Black P. Stone Nation. Powell was there to try to regain control of the church that a week...

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Chapter 4. “Jesus Christ Made a Macho Outta Me!”: The 1972 Cross-Cultural Youth Convention

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pp. 98-121

In 1972 the Minority Ministries Council printed a brochure that read: “If you’re Mennonite chances are better than 9 out of 10 that you are white, affluent and will ask . . . the minority what?”1 The brochure caught people’s attention, but it also raised an important point: just who are these...

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Chapter 5. Social Movement or Labor Union?: Mennonites and the Farmworker Movement

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pp. 122-146

Most summers in the 1950s, Paul and Ann Conrad followed Mexican American families to the cotton fields of West Texas. Loaded with Bibles and other Christian literature in their van—literally a church on wheels—they traveled 500 miles to minister to the 18 or so Mexican...

Part III: Becoming Evangélicos

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Chapter 6. Mujeres Evangélicas: Negotiating the Borderlands of Faith and Feminism

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pp. 149-173

On April 14, 1973, close to 60 Latinas gathered at the Iglesia Evangélica Menonita in Moline, Illinois, for the first conference organized by and for Latinas in the Mennonite Church. Conference organizers Maria Bustos, Lupe Bustos, and Maria Rivera Snyder planned what they...

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Chapter 7. “Remember Sandia!”: Meno-Latinos and Religious Identity Politics

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pp. 174-202

The mid-1970s were good years for Latino Mennonites. Overall membership numbers were on the rise and the new Concilio Nacional de Iglesias Menonitas Hispanas (National Council of Spanish Mennonite Churches) replaced the Minority Ministries Council (MMC) as the leading...

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Conclusion: Latino Mennonites and the Politics of Belonging

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pp. 203-220

The events that led to the involvement of Latino Mennonites in the civil rights movement, the farmworker struggle, and the coalition they built with African American coreligionists in the Mennonite Church are now little more than distant memories. Most of the religious activists...


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pp. 221-266


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pp. 267-286


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pp. 287-298

About the Author, Further Reading

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pp. 299-302

E-ISBN-13: 9781421412849
E-ISBN-10: 1421412845
Print-ISBN-13: 9781421412832
Print-ISBN-10: 1421412837

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 20 halftones
Publication Year: 2014

OCLC Number: 871004572
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Latino Mennonites

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Mennonites -- United States -- History -- 20th century.
  • Race relations -- Religious aspects -- Mennonites.
  • Hispanic Americans -- Social conditions.
  • Hispanic American Mennonites -- History -- 20th century.
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