Ven tal como eres! (Come as you are!)
The lived experience of mujeres Latinas living in Australia and attending Hillsong Church Merrylands
This study seeks to hear and understand the voices of ten mujeres Latinas and how their lived experience and spirituality contribute to the Pentecostal community in Australia. Australian Pentecostal mujeres Latinas challenge the adage that participation in a predominantly white-Western Pentecostal megachurch leads to diminished cultural inclusion and assimilation to Eurocentric or Western spirituality, by showing up and participating “as they are.” In this article, we interview ten Latinas who attend Hillsong, a contemporary Pentecostal church with the Merrylands campus located in the greater Sydney Australia area. This study examines women’s narratives of ethnocultural inclusion, as well as their experience of participation and spiritual development as a part of Hillsong Merrylands. Furthermore, the stories of women of colour provide insight into the underemphasised and often under-researched hybrid experience of the “others” within the Australian Pentecostal context. It will also demonstrate the complexity of women’s lived religious experiences, as seen through the lens of lo cotidiano (everyday life). This article showcases how these ten Latinas found connection and purpose, and a sense of “welcome home” at Hillsong Church, whilst navigating the migrant experience of living far from their home country. At the same time, these women’s stories address the challenges of visibility and female inclusion attending an Australian Pentecostal church, as well as the struggles of learning to navigate family life, change of language and culture, in order to participate in a new church environment, which is different from a Spanish-speaking Latina/o church.
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