Peru: Limeans attend U.S. church service in upscale movie theater

Living in Peru
Israel J. Ruiz

Catholics and other worshipers in Lima are finding new, more modern ways to attend church and receive religious messages.

In an article published in the Wall Street Journal, the international daily explains that a new generation of churches is using franchise marketing to spread "their own brand of religion".

Instead of searching for converts to a mainstream denomination, independent churches are forming global organizations anchored by a single leader, said the WSJ.

This has been the case in one of Peru’s most upscale districts.

Ovalo Higuereta’s Alcazar movie theater, which is surrounded by a Starbucks, a McDonald’s a T.G.I. Fridays and a Chilis, is transformed into a branch of Reverend Troy Gramling’s Florida-based Flamingo Road Church on weekends.

Almost 3,000 miles away, Gramling, who has a weekly attendance of 8,000 at his church in Broward County Florida, records sermons on DVDs to be played for congregations in Peru.

Affirming "The religious market is saturated in the U.S.", Manuel Vasquez, co-author of "Globalizing the Sacred: Religion Across the Americas," explains that pastors are now reaching overseas to increase their congregations.

According to Philip Jenkins, the author of "The Next Christendom: The Coming of Global Christianity", seven out of 10 Christians will live in Africa, Latin America and Asia by 2025.

For now, approximately 300 Peruvians are pleased with Mr. Gramling’s 9 a.m. Spanish service, which is translated live, and his 10:30 a.m. English service.

Worshipers in Peru assure Gramling is their pastor and state that even though he is on a movie screen, "Sometimes you feel he is here".