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El Templo Cristiano

Texto en español.

A perceptible and measurable Latino social fabric gradually began to emerge in many Yakima Valley towns as each wave of migrants settled and began to participate in local civic culture. The individuals in these budding communities no longer felt completely uprooted or deracinated. As most Latinos were Catholic at the time, local parishes served as the nucleus of many social activities. Young couples exchanged marital vows and parents hosted celebratory wedding receptions in honor of the newlyweds. Children were baptized and confirmed into the Catholic faith. When parishioners died, the parish priest led the close-knit local Latino community in the funeral mass and cemetery procession. When local priests became overwhelmed by the growing non-English speaking population, the Yakima Catholic Diocese responded by enlisting a Spanish-speaking provisional missionary to care for the spiritual needs of the Latino parishioners.

However, not all Yakima community Latinos were Catholic. By the 1940s, an evangelical Latino community had galvanized together as a congregation in Wapato. Between 1944 and 1955, the congregation constructed its own church, El Templo Cristiano. As the Wapato congregation grew, they established another church in Sunnyside. Other non-sectarian religious organizations, such as the Migrant Ministry of Washington Council of Churches, also reached out to Latinos and worked directly among the children from the various labor camp populations. El Templo Cristiano is part of the Tortilla Flats neighborhood. The church has served as a social center and anchor point for the community’s cultural preservation since its construction.


2016 view of the front courtyard of El Temple Cristiano in Wapato.

Image by Artifacts Consulting, Inc.

2016 view of El Temple Cristiano, or the Spanish Assembly of God Church in Wapato.

Image by Artifacts Consulting, Inc.