Second generation immigrants live within two cultures, that of their parents and that of the country they call home. They are the “Hypheners”: Mexican-Americans, Haitian-Americans, Guatemalan-Americans, etc.
While many adults in Immokalee immigrated to the United States from Mexico, Guatemala and Haiti, there are also many who either came as very young children or were born here in the United States to their immigrant parents. Of the 53,000,000 Hispanics in the United States almost 65% were born and raised here in the United States (“A Future for the Latino Church” by Daniel Rodriguez). They often do not feel comfortable in the Spanish/Haitian language church of their parents. They are too “Americanized,” too “adapted” to the American culture. Their cognitive language is English, not the language with which their parents grew up.
At the same time they often do not feel welcome in the existing American churches where they are seen as foreigners. They don’t feel they belong. They may have experienced discrimination (or they feel that they have experienced discrimination).
There is a danger of the Christian church losing this generation when they become old enough to leave home. People don’t want to go to a church where they will be forced to do something that makes them uncomfortable or that will make them embarrassed.
While continuing our outreach to first generation Hispanics and Haitians, we are now expanding our ministry to establish a multi-cultural, multi-racial English-dominant Lutheran church focused on the 2nd and 3rd generation immigrants in Immokalee. Our church will promote a global, multicultural vision where our identity is first and foremost as members of the Kingdom of God.
Vicar Karl Glander has already started a Wednesday evening group that meets for Bible study, prayer, worship, food and fellowship in English at our Immokalee Amigos Center. We expect to start an English language Sunday worship service later this summer.