Mita's Congregation
   Mita's Congregation is an indigenous Puerto Rican group that developed within the larger Pentecostal movement on the island. Juanita Garcia Pereza (1897-1970), during a long illness, had a revelation that God had chosen her as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit. After she was healed, she carried out the command in her revelation that she found a church, organized to accord with the teachings of primitive Christianity. Pereza was subsequently seen by her followers as the instrument of God for healings. Pereza took the name Mita, meaning "Spirit of life."
   Mita emphasized a triple message of love, liberty and unity. The God of love frees his people from sin and calls them to unite. Pereza is now honored as the promised Comforter mentioned in John 14:26. Because of its messianic beliefs about its founder, the church has been pushed to the fringe of the Pentecostal community; however, her impact was so great that following her death the Puerto Rican Senate suspended its meetings for three days.
   Mita organized followers into an economic cooperative that now includes a set of agricultural, manufacturing, and retail businesses as well as social services. The apparent long-term goal is to create a totally self-sufficient community. The church also supports a school with classes from preschool through high school, a social service center, and a retirement home.
   Mita's Congregation began to spread beyond Puerto Rico within a decade of its founding in 1940. In 1948, a minister was sent to work in the Spanish-speaking community of New York City. Under Mita's anointed successor (Teöfilo Vargas Sein Aarön), the church has expanded across the United States to Canada and into the Central and South American countries that border on the Caribbean. In celebration of its 50th anniversary, Mita's Congregation opened a new house of worship in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with a seating capacity of 6,000.
   Further reading:
   ■ E. Camayd-Freixas, "The Cult of the Goddess Mita on the Eve of a New Millennium: A Socio-Anthropological Look at a Caribbean Urban Religion," Latin American Issues. Available online. URL: http://webpub.allegheny.edu/group/LAS/Lati-nAmIssues/Articles/LAI_vol_13_section_I.html. Accessed on February 15, 2004
   ■ J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedia of American Religions, 7th ed. (Detroit: Gale Group, 2002).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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