LOUISVILLE—As a “one-and-a-half generation Hispanic American” — one neither identifying as a first generation Hispanic American or a second generation Hispanic American–Anibal Figueroa feels called to reach out to those much like himself: Hispanics Americans, who although they may have been born overseas and immigrated young, feel a connection to their Hispanic heritage while being brought up largely culturally American.
Thus, he planted, Nuevo Amanecer (New Dawn) Church, or NA Church, a church dedicated to being bilingual and multicultural in east Louisville. The church started about four years ago, but in October 2017, it rebranded and relocated to the Kentucky Baptist Building. It meets on Sundays at 5 p.m.
The services are bilingual, sometimes even “Spanglish,” as Figueroa described. While the sermons are spoken from the pulpit in Spanish, earpieces are offered to the congregation with real-time translation in English. Worship and videos are presented in English and Spanish. Because many couples attending are mixed English-speaking and Spanish-speaking, and because many of the those in his church identify with both cultures as well, he felt this was the direction to take the congregation.
The church makes the point to be bilingual, even changing their name from Iglesia Nuevo Amanecer to Nuevo Amanecer Church. Their social media as well is done in both English and Spanish. Even their signage is dual language. For example, upon exiting, attendees see a sign that says “Gracias, see you next week.”
“We have embraced our identity as being bilingual, and we have embraced our Spanglish,” Figueroa explained. “There’s nothing like worshiping God in your native tongue, and for a lot of us, we have two of them,” he shared. Some songs are completely in Spanish, some are completely in English, and some are “Spanglish.” Although he is still preaching completely in Spanish with a translator, their vision is to have a second service with an English sermon and Spanish translation.
“Although we are multicultural now,” Figueroa said, the goal is to eventually start being not just multicultural “within the Hispanic community but to start seeing other cultures in the area and demographic come together.”
The church is also taking on a home group approach to Bible study. Separate groups meet in homes throughout the week, some in English and some in Spanish, with some even in a mixed language, for a Bible or book study with discussion and fellowship. This ministers uniquely to students and couples of mixed heritages.
And although the church “started because of necessity,” because of the people who were attending the church, this bilingual and “Spanglish” approach to ministry is part of NA Church “embracing our personal identity,” Figueroa added.
“He is the first pastor in the history of the Kentucky Baptist Convention to work with the second generation,” Eddie Torres, church planting and development associate, shared in expressing appreciation for the work that Figueroa and NA Church is doing.
In their former location in LaGrange, the church started with about 30 people. It grew in a few years to an average attendance of 80-100. But since most of the people were coming to the church from east Louisville, “God laid it on our heart and we started praying and exploring the possibility of moving to east Louisville,” he shared.
“There aren’t many Hispanic churches period, but there’s really not anybody doing what we’re doing and embracing this dual language type-church,” he said.
Their official launch in the new location was Oct. 8. Though the transition has been tough on the church, Figueroa is trusting the Lord that this was the right decision.
“Every Sunday, it doesn’t matter the size of our group, every single Sunday we’ve been there, we’re seeing new faces. We’re seeing new people,” he shared. “We are very enthusiastic and have a good core team that are dedicated and determined to keep pushing and working to see people far from God find life in Christ.” (WR)