Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico
   The American takeover of Puerto Rico from Spain in 1898 allowed the introduction of Protestantism into the largely Roman Catholic land. Five churches arrived in 1899 - the Lutherans, BapTISTS, Disciples of Christ, Presbyterians, and United Brethen, followed by the Methodists and the Christian and Missionary Alliance in 1900 and the Seventh-day Adventist Church in 1909. The Baptists and the Adventists won the best response, with the latter creating a string of medical facilities. As of the beginning of the 21st century, fully a fourth of all foreign missionary personnel in Puerto Rico are connected with the Seventh-day Adventists.
   The more important story, however, concerns PENTECOSTALiSM. A number of Puerto Ricans who had converted to that faith in Hawaii and California in the first decade of the new century returned to the island in 1916 and founded the Pentecostal Church of God. From that beginning, other groups emerged. Pentecostal missionaries from American denominations came to Puerto Rico, while Pentecostal missionaries from Puerto Rico began working in Spanish-speaking communities across America. indigenous Puerto Rican groups include the Defenders of the Faith Church founded in 1931 and Mita's Congregation, which began a decade later. Prominent American-based churches on the island include the Church of God of Prophecy (1938), the Church of God (Cleveland,Tennessee) (1944), the Assemblies of God (1957), and the United Pentecostal Church,International (1962). Each group counts its membership in the tens of thousands, with the Pentecostal Church of God reaching above 100,000. The only other group to have a significant impact is the Jehovah's Witnesses, who have around 70,000 members.
   Further reading:
   ■ David Barrett, The Encyclopedia of World Christianity, 2nd ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001)
   ■ J. Gordon Melton, Encyclopedia of American Religions, 7th ed. (Detroit: Gale Group, 2002)
   ■ Arthur C. Piepkorn, Profiles of Belief: The Religious Bodies of the United States and Canada, vol. iii (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979).

Encyclopedia of Protestantism. . 2005.

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