By: José Humphreys
My dad is a prophetic intellectual. In Puerto Rico, he studied engineering, loved mathematics, and has a memory that I often envy. Dad also has an uncanny ability in the spirit of a Nehemiah, to exegete a community inside out providing a snapshot of where it will be 10 years from now. Until this day I’m amazed at his past prognostications about a presently gentrified Lower East Side.
When my dad moved to New York from Puerto Rico, he worked several jobs and eventually landed a job in the post office. During his 30 years of service my dad would also need an intellectual outlet, so he satisfied this by consuming books of all sorts. His eventual conversion to the Pentecostal faith, and his role as a teacher and superintendent of Sunday School gave him the opportunity to use his intellect in a way not afforded by his vocation. My dad would reason with his students over La Guia-El Expositor,a staple curriculum of many Pentecostal Sunday Schools. At times the reasoning in class would even turn into a milieu for healthy biblical debate, essentially becoming a sanctioned space to think and pontificate about God.
As I think about the role of the Old Spanish Pentecostal church, la iglesia, both past and present, it is a place where much of our community: exiles and immigrants can celebrate euphoric experiences, family, and even have a nook on Sunday mornings to theologize. Perhaps if our communities’ intellect is affirmed no where else, for many, la iglesia is that place. A place to think about God.