How Migration Molds Faith

The Distillery Season Six

What are the dynamics shaping the role of immigrant churches in the United States? 

In this episode, we speak with Dr. João Chaves, assistant director for Programming at the Hispanic Theological Initiative, about his book, Migrational Religion: Context and Creativity in the Latinx Diaspora. We talk about his work and focus on his case study of a network formed by communities of Brazilian immigrants who formed a unique ethnic association within their host country. Listen as he shares his extensive ethnographic research, done over six years, in 11 congregations across the United States.

Chaves Photo


João Chaves, assistant director for programming at the Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI), received his PhD from the Department of Religion at Baylor University, where he studied the history of Christianity and sociology of religion. Chaves is the author of three books, including Migrational Religion: Context and Creativity in the Latinx Diaspora (Baylor University Press), which investigates how migration shapes the theological forms and functions of transnational religious networks. His forthcoming book, The Global Mission of the Jim Crow South (Mercer University Press, May 2022) traces the history of how missionaries from the Southern US helped shape Latin American evangelicalism according to Southern theocultural and racialized assumptions. Chaves is also finalizing another manuscript — co-authored with Dr. Mikeal Parsons — that focuses on the development of transnational constructions of religious legacies. In addition, Chaves is a member of the Commission on Racial, Gender, and Economic Justice of the Baptist World Alliance; associate editor of Perspectivas, the Journal of the Hispanic Theological Initiative; and editorial board member of Perspectives in Religious Studies.

Educating faithful Christian leaders.

Pastor at Franklin Lakes United Methodist Church, New Jersey

Alison VanBuskirk, Class of 2015

“My call as a pastor centers on shaping a community where people can connect and be real with each other and God.”