Where Are the Poor? A Comparison of the Ecclesial Base Communities and Pentecostalism-A Case Study in Cuernavaca, Mexico

Article excerpt

Where Are the Poor? A Comparison of the Ecclesial Base Communities and Pentecostalism--A Case Study in Cuernavaca, Mexico. By Philip D. Wingeier-Rayo. Eugene, Ore.: Wipf & Stock, Pickwick Publications, 2011. Pp. xi, 164. Paperback $20.

Why would some people living in the same barrio opt to participate in an Ecclesial Base Community (CEB) while others, often members of the same family, join a Pentecostal church? Philip Wingeier-Rayo responds to this question by offering a theoretical and empirical comparative analysis of an ecclesial base community and a Pentecostal congregation located less than 100 yards apart in Colonia Alta Vista Alegre, a lower-class working neighborhood in Cuernavaca, Mexico.

The work is divided into two parts. The literature review, in part 1 (itself well worth the price of the book), surveys the development of CEBs and Pentecostals, as well as the theoretical interpretations emerging among scholars. In part 2, with an eye to field-testing these theories, Wingeier-Rayo presents the findings of his yearlong ethnographic study of the two groups. Organizing his research around common themes, including testimonies, group practices, leadership styles, and social and political action, Wingeier-Rayo found that, in comparison with the Pentecostal congregation, members of the CEB were older, better established in the community, and more upwardly mobile. The intellectual and rational nature of their Bible studies, designed to raise political awareness through biblical reflection, contrasted with the enthusiastic and emotional worship services of the Pentecostals, where sermons focused, for the most part, on a spiritual encounter with the divine. …


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