Amen!

La Iglesia in Emma offers Latinos a home in a foreign land

  • Looking inside the Christian Church of Bethlehem

    Peter McBride
  • The Christian Church of Bethlehem lit up at night

    Peter McBride
  • Praying inside the Christian Church of Bethlehem

    Peter McBride
  • Landscape of the Christian Church of Bethlehem in Emma, Colo.

    Peter McBride
  • Young female church member

    Peter McBride
  • Believers at the Christian Church of Bethlehem

    Peter McBride
 

Note: This article is a sidebar to this issue's feature story.

After sitting mostly unused for some 60 years, the one-room school house in Emma, Colo., has recently come back to life. Not with the chanting of ranchers' children reciting their times tables, but with the resonant sound of hymns sung in Spanish.

Twelve miles west of Aspen, down the Roaring Fork Valley, the historic building is enlivened each Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday by the prayers and "musica romantica" of Hispanics throughout the valley. The congregation of La Iglesia Cristiana "Betel" (the Christian Church of Bethlehem) is made up of immigrants from Mexico and Central America who work in Aspen as housekeepers and carpenters. Five years ago they rehabilitated the schoolhouse and now rent it from the community of Emma for about $5 a service.

Daniel Olave is a native of Chihuahua and the new church's pastor. He says, "Ni importa el tipo de religion o cultura, ayudamos todos y especialmente los drogas adictos y las personas que tienen problemas matrimonias." ("It doesn't matter what type of religion and culture you are from, we help everybody, especially drug addicts and those having marital problems.") Olave says the support is offered by the congregation in lively, emotional services. Olave often lays his hands upon the foreheads of the people, letting the force of God come through his palms, he says.

Although the influx of Hispanics has brought diverse music and food to the area, the rapid growth also has a downside. Stories of knife fights between Mexicans and El Salvadorans are not uncommon in the local papers.

Says Pastor Olave, "Aqui en la iglesia, trabajamos juntos and no tenemos problemas con las diferencias entre nuestras culturas Latinas. Me gusta este valle porque es tranquilo con Hispanicos, pero is muy importante que mantenemos nuestras papeles y aprendemos Ingles." ("Here in the church we work together and have no problems because we accept all Latin cultures. I like this valley because it is receptive to Hispanics, but it is very important we work to maintain our papers and learn English.")

Olave reports that over the last four years, more than 80 percent of the congregation has become legal, the majority are enrolled in English classes and the renovation of the Emma school is almost complete.

High Country News Classifieds
  • DESCHUTES LAND TRUST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Deschutes Land Trust, based in Bend, Oregon, seeks a collaborative and strategic Executive Director to lead us in pursuing our mission: to conserve and care...
  • DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
    Job Title: Development Manager Supervisor: Senior Director of Development Effective Date: May 17, 2021 Job Status: Full-time (40 hours/week), exempt Location: Within the Colorado Plateau...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR AT FRIENDS OF CEDAR MESA
    - The Land, History, and People of the Bears Ears Region - The Bears Ears and Cedar Mesa region is one of the most beautiful,...
  • EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
    Job Title: Executive Director Reports To: Board of Directors Compensation: $75,000 to $80,000, plus generous benefits and paid leave. Funding for relocation expenses available. Classification:...
  • WATER DIRECTOR
    Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis. Application review will begin on April 2, 2021 and will continue until the position has been filled....
  • CLIMATE JUSTICE FELLOW
    High Country News, an award-winning magazine covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, seeks applicants for a climate justice fellowship. The fellowship...
  • VIRGINIA SPENCER DAVIS FELLOWSHIP
    High Country News, an award-winning magazine covering the communities and environment of the Western United States, is offering a fellowship for early-career journalists interested in...
  • COLORADO WILD PUBLIC LANDS VIDEO CONTEST
    Please submit your video of 30 seconds or less, taken on public lands, to [email protected] by May 15th for a chance to win in one...
  • WMAN NETWORK COORDINATOR
    WESTERN MINING ACTION NETWORK (WMAN) CONTRACT OPPORTUNITY CLOSING DATE: Feb. 19, 2021 WMAN is seeking a team member to coordinate the various network activities to...
  • FRIENDS OF THE INYO IS HIRING TRAIL AMBASSADORS FOR THE SUMMER OF 2021
    Friends of the Inyo's Trail Ambassadors (TAs) support the Inyo, Sierra, & Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forests and other partners by providing positive public service, outreach, interpretation,...
  • LAND & CABIN ON CO/ UT LINE
    18 ac w/small solar ready cabin. Off grid, no well. Great RV location. Surrounded by state wildlife area and nat'l parks.
  • MANAGER PERMACULTURE LANDSCAPE CONTRACTOR
    Permaculture / Landscape Company Manager / Site Lead Red Ant Works, Inc. - 20+ year landscape construction and horticultural care company seeks manager and site...
  • CANYONLANDS FIELD INSTITUTE
    Field seminars for adults in natural and human history of the Colorado Plateau with lodge, river trip and base camp options. Small groups, guest experts.
  • COMMUNICATIONS MANAGER
    San Juan Citizens Alliance is looking for a passionate, dynamic, organized, and technology-savvy communications professional to help grow our membership and presence in the Four...
  • ENERGY AND CLIMATE PROGRAM ASSOCIATE
    San Juan Citizens Alliance seeks an Energy and Climate Program Associate to focus on public outreach, education and organizing to advance campaigns to mitigate climate...
  • REAL ESTATE SPECIALIST
    This position provides professional real estate services and is responsible for managing and completing real estate projects utilizing a project management database that is designed...
  • WILDFIRE MITIGATION SPECIALIST
    The Wildfire Mitigation Specialist is responsible for delivering wildfire risk mitigation information, recommendations and programmatic resources to wildland urban interface homeowners, community members and partners....
  • DEVELOPMENT POSITIONS
    Thorne Nature Experience is hiring for a Development Director and Senior Individual Giving Manager. Individuals will work collaboratively with Thorne's Executive Director to develop and...
  • SENIOR PROGRAM MANAGER, LANDSCAPE CONSERVATION & ENERGY
    The National Parks Conservation Association, a 100-year-old nonprofit advocacy organization and the nation's leading voice for national parks seeks a Senior Program Manager, Landscape Conservation...
  • BACKCOUNTRY AND FRONTCOUNTRY STEWARDSHIP CREW MEMBERS
    The San Juan Mountains Association (SJMA) is hiring a crew of ambassadors to work in partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to educate visitors on...