THE PASSION CENTER is a Christian community in Pembroke Pines, Fla., about 20 miles north of Miami. The organization is affiliated with the Assemblies of God, a Pentecostal denomination, but it neither emphasizes its denominational ties nor resembles a traditional church. This self-described “holistic ministry training center” has no building, but it has a mission to keep Jesus and social justice intertwined.
The faith community was founded and is led by Elizabeth Rios, who earlier started the Center for Emerging Female Leadership in New York. Members of the Passion Center used to meet regularly for community service projects, local demonstrations advocating for the priorities of marginalized communities, dinners in local restaurants, and a monthly comedy night for their neighborhood. The pandemic shut down the in-person gatherings. Unlike many other Pentecostal and charismatic churches, the Passion Center leadership had no qualms about following the science. They had no building to close; they just transitioned their ministries online. The Passion Center is one example of Pentecostals who don’t mind getting politically engaged in justice work to further the reign of God here on earth.
Pentecostalism is one of the fastest growing Christian movements in the world. In 1980, about 6 percent of Christians globally were Pentecostal—now it’s 25 percent. As of 2014, there were 10 million Pentecostals in the U.S. In many places around the world, Pentecostalism is the predominant face of Christianity. These rising numbers are shifting Christianity’s demographic center from the prosperous North to the global South.