The 36,000-square-foot complex looks more suited for offices than offerings, but on this day, 500 pack the sanctuary for an upbeat, bilingual service. A high-stepping man leads a praise chorus. Laypeople take turns praying: one in Spanish, then another in English. Dozens approach the stage for prayer. Hands rise and eyelids fall. After an hour, some 75 English speakers representing 15 countries head downstairs to continue worship in their language.
Another 15 go to a window-filled room where a new Anglican Church in North America congregation, started by León de Judá, is gathering for the first time. Ministries here are growing so fast – 500 new members in the past five years – that a 40,000-square-foot building is rising next door to help house it all.
For new members like Ted Best, who emigrated from Barbados 30 years ago, and William Leslie from Dominica (both English-speaking countries), the church's Hispanic roots were no barrier. They like being part of a dynamic congregation that provides outlets for compassion and immigrants' hopes.
"We want to be part of a church that is growing," says Mr. Leslie, who does outreach work for León de Judá, from visiting hospitals to sharing information in subways. "We want to touch the community for Jesus, and this church has advanced that cause."
Much of the church growth in secular New England stems from immigrants and the cultures they create in pursuit of spiritual grounding. Researchers at the Emmanuel Gospel Center (EGC), a Boston-based Christian organization that studies urban ministries, call it a "quiet revival." It is often overlooked because the Religion Census tracks only denominations, yet nondenominational churches account for some of the fastest-filling pews, or folding chairs, as the case may more often be.