December 15, 1974, was a day to be remembered in the history of Latin American Pentecostalism. A crowd estimated at 20,000 persons jammed into the new Jotabeche Pentecostal Methodist Church in Santiago, Chile, for the dedication of their new “Temple-Cathedral.” In attendance was the President of Chile, General Augusto Pinochet, and other high government officials. The highlight of the service came when President Pinochet, a Catholic, cut the ribbon which officially opened the cathedral for worship (see photo).

Many thousands who could not enter the church filled the streets for several blocks surrounding the building, located on Santiago’s main street. With 80,000 members, it is the largest evangelical church in the world. The fervor and size of the congregation gave testimony to the dynamic growth of Pentecostalism in Chile in recent years. In less than a decade, this congregation has quadrupled in size as has most of the Pentecostal movement in Latin America.

Presiding over the dedication ceremonies was the church’s pastor, Javier Vasquez. The dedication sermon was delivered by Bishop Mamerto Mancilla Tapia, head of the Methodist Pentecostal Church of Chile. Diplomats from several Protestant nations were present in addition to representatives of many Pentecostal denominations from several Latin American countries. A large delegation from the United States represented the Pentecostal Holiness Church, which has been affiliated with the Methodist Pentecostal Church of Chile since 1967. Several PHC leaders spoke.

The Jotabeche church will seat 15,000 for regular services, including a chorus and orchestra of 1,000. Because the congregation is so large, members will be permitted to attend “general services” in the mother church ...

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