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The goal of this Ministry Focus Paper is to formulate strategies of cultural adaptation that will guide the leadership and membership of Message of Peace Church, currently a Portuguese-speaking congregation, to transition to a multiethnic church with English as its primary language of worship. Message of Peace is an ethnic church primarily of Brazilian immigrants in South San Francisco. It began ministering to the Portuguese people in San Jose, but with the decrease of Portuguese immigration and increase of the Brazilian immigration in the 1990s, the church moved north and became mostly Brazilian. With the changes to immigration laws after September 11th, and the improvement of the Brazilian economy, immigration to the US has slowed and many will return to Brazil. The ones who remain have children who are English speaking. To assure its survival and its growth the church needs to adapt to a different reality.

The study is divided in three parts. Part One describes both the local congregation and the local community surrounding Message of Peace. It also describes the needs of the new generation, made up of children of the immigrants who were born here or came very young, and were schooled in the US. This new generation will become the future of the church and its leadership. This section also describes the church’s organization structure including leadership patterns.

Part Two examines the literature on cultural adaptation, makes a comparison with two multiethnic churches and provides a theology of ministry and cultural adaptation required for such a transition. The study concludes with a description of a five-year plan to transition Message of Peace and it serves as a model for other ethnic churches that may transition to a multiethnic church with English as the primary language of worship.

Content Reader: Oscar García-Johnson, PhD

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Doctor of Ministry (DMin)

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García-Johnson, Oscar

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Message of Peace Church (South San Francisco, Calif.); Pentecostal churches; Church work with immigrants; Church work with Hispanic Americans; Brazilians; Christian leadership


Missions and World Christianity


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April 2018

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