El Lugar de Su Presencia

Posted on 07. Aug, 2011 by in colombia

El Lugar de Su Presencia is a Protestant megachurch on Avenida Suba in La Castellana neighborhood in North Bogota. It’s located next to the Suba Calle 95 TransMilenio station on the Suba line:


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Iglesia Cristiana El Lugar de Su Presencia
Calle 95 Bis 50-36
La Castellana
Bogotá, Colombia

The experience at Su Presencia is similar to what I’ve heard American megachurches are like – intense. People hold their arms in the air and close their eyes. The music is modern and poppy. Excellent audio-visual. It’s a professional performance. Dozens of staff are needed for crowd control inside and in the neighborhood streets. Before each service, crowds line up as far as three blocks down to get a good seat in the main auditorium.

The Su Presencia Facebook page claims 14,000 weekly attendants through all the services. Once capacity is reached they put more people in the building across the street. The first time I went I was in the main auditorium from where the band and pastor broadcast. When I took these pics and video I was in the second building, watching on the big screen.

If local trends follow those in the States, which most do, Su Presencia may someday hold a service in El Campín just like Second Baptist in Houston holds Easter services at Minute Maid park (where the Astros play). The Second Baptist annual budget is in the neighborhood of $50 million. If trends follow those in the States, a Colombian or South American Rick Warren may emerge. Senior pastor of Saddleback, Warren authored The Purpose-Driven Life (30 million copies sold) and gave Barack Obama’s inaugural invocation.

Each week they hold eight general adult services (Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays), four kids services, and four babies services. See their hours and locations on Su Presencia’s mapa y horario page.

The church’s main personality is Pastor Andres, born in Australia but raised in Colombia. You can read about him and Rocio on their Nuestros Pastores page. I’ve heard they have a former drug addict as a church leader to help people trying to get away from that life. Register to donate here.

Latin America is the most Catholic continent by far, but Protestant churches are growing fast. In Arequipa I lived near a Mormon church. I know other Colombians beside Institute Pimp who go to Su Presencia. My Brazilian buddy in Recife called himself a Baptist. There are definite socio-economic and ethnic motivations in Latinos converting. When talking about God, many of the Latin Protestants I know employ themes of prosperity theology. It’s an upper class thing to be cristiano, and it makes it easier for other well-off families to get involved.

Su Presencia is too intense for me. I prefer somber and good old fashioned guilt. So if I go, I go to Catholic mass at Lourdes.

Below are pics of where people line up, the primary and secondary auditoriums (which you wouldn’t notice if you weren’t looking for it), and a cafe in the neighborhood called Peregrino’s. The neighborhood is a Christian district. This cafe shares space with a Christian bookstore where they sell non-denominational Christian books, CDs, DVDs, etc. All the top English books in Spanish, including my hometown’s Christian face figure Joyce Meyer. The cafe broadcasts footage from Houston of megachurch Lakewood‘s Spanish services.

Read about America’s Biggest Megachurches.

For easier viewing see the El Lugar de Su Presencia photo album on the Expat Chronicles Facebook page.

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9 Responses to “El Lugar de Su Presencia”

  1. Samuel

    08. Aug, 2011

    very interesting, my friend. I know something of the prosperity gospel, and I have to say that it is flawed, and even potentially harmful. I saw my ex-wife swallowed up by it… linking blessings from God to money and performance… its not totally unfounded, but the connection is in error. If you give $10,000 to the church because you were on an emotional high and hyped up by the Pastor during service, just because “God told you” to give that money, doesn’t mean its a magic bean that is now sure to blossom into some magical larger amount of money. To presume that getting the godly hookup was as formulaic and manipulative as that is pretty questionable to me…. as well as presuming that naturally God wants all Christians to be millionaires just because they think that would be their ideal life.

    But I do enjoy church and I have given lots of money to them. I do enjoy when the music is quality, but the only thing I get something out of is the direct teaching, not the professional performance. In fact, the ‘show business’ element of a church seems to be better when downplayed a little, rather than spotlighted. I don’t go to church to be entertained and hear the new vocalist… I go to consult with God and be around caring people.

    If I were seeking a relationship with a Colombiana en pais, I would be rather keen on going to places like the church mentioned in this blog, because there can be such great girls with good hearts…. but I’m not too much a fan of the heavily indoctrinated ones that can’t just act like normal human beings. Ever met those types? I don’t know… but I do love church girls, always have.

    It is interesting that there is a connection between being a Christian in Colombia, and being upper-crust. You could make the case that the Christians are upper-crust because they are highly functional and productive because they don’t have a lot of vices and self-sabotage… or that upper-crust types would associate themselves with the church for added or maintained credibility which lends to their continued and increased prosperity. Kind of a chicken-and-the-egg thing.

  2. Rodney

    08. Aug, 2011

    Good article. I sometimes attend a non-denominational Church in Austin and Amarillo, but not the blab it and grab it financial success type of mega-Church. I met this girl in Barranquilla that attends http://cristianosbarranquilla.org.co/ and I meant to visit one Sunday but for some reason on Sundays I was pretty hung over form the night before. I am sure the Church in Barranquilla is not as big as the one in Bogota, but I did look at some YouTube videos I found and there are some hot chicas that go there. There was another girl that went to a different similar Church in the the same city but I don’t remember the name. Like the USA, it seems these type of Churches are catching on in Colombia.

  3. Rubio

    10. Aug, 2011

    I went there once. I have to admit I was a little jealous…
    I want to find a way to duplicate their financial success but without selling the Tooth Fairy. Something like “la iglesia de la lujuria” ….. ;)

    I have 15 years experience as director of music in various churches of various denominations and let me tell you some of the dirtiest nastiest sluts on Earth can be picked up out of churches… which is probably why I hung on for 15 years ;)

  4. Samuel

    10. Aug, 2011

    Rubio is absolutely right. That’s why I love church girls….

  5. Rubio

    10. Aug, 2011

    There, Colin as per your request, I’ve left my FB account in the comment…

  6. Rubio

    10. Aug, 2011

    hmmm it doesnt seem to come up…. its facebook.com/rubiazo anyways….

  7. Samuel

    12. Aug, 2011

    you know… its not just that church girls are incessantly dirty girls (they all are, really) but that there’s something else about them… they possess (often times) a certain outlook on life that lines up with my own, or that makes sense to me… and I think also because of my own knowledge of the church culture makes them easy to attract. Problem is… then they all want to get married =)

  8. Jimmy

    25. Aug, 2011

    This Catholic loves visiting evangelical, latino churches. The people are the freaking salt of the earth.

    The pastors have zero theological training other than reading the bible. Their main goal seems to be channeling the Holy Ghost. A guitar and drum set go on a 20 minute space jam with a guy who just got out of county jail last week screaming about Jesus. The congregation waves their hands in the air like they just don’t care. Outside the ladies sell Pupusas and Fried Chicken and bored teenagers talk on their cell phones with their non friends whose families are too lazy to get up and go to church.

    My friend Tino swears that his buddy Carlos can see and exorcise demons. My friend Wilmer says that the evangelical movement saved him from the clutches of Mara Salvatrucha. My friend Ramona brings all 5 of her grandkids to Templo Calvario every Sunday. All 5 kids have the same mom and different dads. Ramona is 52. Naomi goes because her father is a minister on Sunday (and a mechanic the other 6 days).

    So many have tried to get me to go to their church. I tell them that the Protestants tormented the Catholics in Ireland for 1000 years. I could never be a protestant.

    Tino, Carlos, Wilmer, Ramona tell me that I am American, not Irish. That Catholocism will only lead me to hell, but that they are happy to be my friend.

    Naomi went to some PC college where she was a member of MECHA. In her eyes I see only frustration that I as a blue eyed, Irish Catholic lay claim to victim status and that she as a brown skinned Protestant is my opressor.

    I love her because she goes to her dad’s church even though she don’t want too. It is so very Catholic to suffer for God and for your family.

  9. jose

    12. May, 2012

    yes

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