The largest non-denominational church in Mexico has sent missionaries to Maine in a push to have a presence in all 50 states. A small Bangor congregation has been meeting since July in a former bank next to the Hannaford Supermarket near the Bangor Mall.
“Three years ago, there was a call for missionaries,” said David Mascorro, 26, of Bangor. “I decided that I would start a new life as a missionary. I had no idea where I’d be sent.”
Mascorro and Daniel Munoz, 36, of Bangor came to Maine with other missionaries about two years ago so the church would have a presence in all 50 states. Both men were raised in the church in the U.S.
In all, there are fewer than three dozen members in Maine. So far, the Bangor congregation is tiny; just eight members and their families worship regularly. Numbers grow in the summer when migrant agricultural workers pass through Bangor.
The small numbers don’t concern Mascorro.
“Now that we are here, the only thing left is to grow,” he said. “We may not grow in quantity but we will grow in quality.”
That growth will come through networking with area residents who are Hispanic and through members asking co-workers and neighbors to attend services, as other evangelical churches in Maine do.
The church takes its name from John 12:46: “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”
La Luz del Mundo was founded in the late 1920s in Mexico and coincided with the rise of Pentecostalism in the United States, according to the World Religions and Spirituality Project, based at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond.
La Luz del Mundo considers itself non-denominational because unlike Protestantism, it did not grow out of the Catholic church.
It was founded by Aaron Joaquin Gonzalez, who had little formal education. He was born in Guadalajara, where the denomination still is headquartered.
Gonzalez offered an alternative to Catholicism that appealed to people who had little and were unhappy with their position in society, according to the World Religions project.