Renascer em Cristo Church
Igreja Renascer em Cristo (Reborn in Christ’s Church) was founded in 1986 in São Paulo by Estevam and Sônia Hernandes. The couple had initiated their religious activities as attendants and then advisers of entrepreneur Cássio Colombo (Uncle Cássio), who had founded Igreja Evangélica Independente de Indianápolis (or Cristo Salva – Christ Saves), in 1975, having as their main marketing symbol Formula 1 pilot Alex Dias Ribeiro. Breaking up relations with Uncle Cássio, Estevam and Sônia began their own meetings and soon after founded Renascer.
At first, the church attracted mostly young people because of the great space music had in their liturgy, with different musical styles (rock, reggae, rap, samba, and so on). Later they also attracted businesspeople and self-employed professionals. Renascer, similarly to IURD and despite differences between the two denominations, is defined by most researchers as neopentecostal, a name given to churches that appeared in the last quarter of the 20th century and which preach a Prosperity Theology.
Renascer had over one thousand temples in Brazil, however, according to the addresses list on the institution’s page, that number has gone down to 315 temples, most of them (214) in the state of São Paulo. It is also present in the United States with four temples, one in New York and three in Florida.
Despite not being in the list of largest churches in Brazil in number of temples and members, they gather a large evangelical public of different denominations in large events, such as the Marcha para Jesus (March for Jesus), which takes place in São Paulo since 1993, as well as in other cities. Since the beginning, the marches – with gospel musicians as main attractions – have had the presence of evangelical and political leaderships. According to Siepierski (2001), Renascer officially backked candidates in many elections: in 1994 they supported the defeated candidate Francisco Rossi de Almeida (then PDT) for São Paulo’s government; in 1996 they supported Celso Pitta (PPB), elected for the São Paulo City Hall, also welcoming in their march his political godfather, Paulo Maluf, who, on the occasion, gave Estevam Hernandes the title of municipal public utility for Fundação Renascer; in 1988 they supported the defeated candidate Paulo Maluf for governor, when PPB candidates were again welcomed on the march’s stages and received support from the Frente Cristã de Bem com São Paulo (São Paulo’s Friends Christian Front), coordinated by Hernandes.
In the last few years, a frequent presence in the marches is senator Magno Malta (PR-ES), leader of the Frente Parlamentar Mista em Defesa da Família (Mixed Parliamentary Front for the Defense of the Family), opponent of the Law Project which criminalizes homophobia and a defender of the age limit reduction for criminal liability. In the 2017’s edition, the march was supported by the city’s mayor, João Dória (PSDB), who recorded a video, posted on social networks, inviting the population to take part in the march and, away during the event, sent the exercising mayor, Bruno Covas (PSDB) in his place. This year, according to estimations published in the press, the march gathered around 2 million people; their leaders made speeches against corruption, sparing, however, President Michel Temer (PMDB), and defended the Labor and Social Security reforms.
Renascer popularized the term “gospel” in Brazil, in the early 1990s, when Estevam Hernandes and the businessman Antônio Carlos Abbud founded Gospel Records, registering the term in the Instituto Nacional de Propriedade Intelectual (National Institute for Intellectual Property). At the same time, other evangelical recorders were created, such as Line Record (IURD) in 1991, and Graça Music (igreja Internacional da Graça de Deus) in 1999. Gospel Records, however, closed their doors in 2010, and now Renascer Praise worship ministry, led by Bishop Sônia, is part of Universal Music’s cast. Similarly to Edir Macedo and IURD, Renascer started their operations in the communications sector, also in a partnership with Abbud Associados, renting programming space in other stations.
In 1990, in the same year the recorder was founded, they rented time at Rádio Imprensa 102.5; two years later, in 1992, they started renting time also in TV channels, such as CNT and TV Manchete; in 1994, they acquired control over the entire programming of the radio stations Nacional Gospel 920 AM and Dimensão Gospel FM 88.5. The first concession came in 1996, during Fernando Henrique Cardoso’s government (1995-2003), when they inaugurated Rede Gospel de Televisão; in 2000, the network grew with the acquisition of the Rede Manchete Gospel stations, now Rede Gospel FM. The church tried to buy the bankrupt TV Manchete in 1999, but the operation wasn’t approved by minister Pimenta da Veiga because the church already had another TV channel in São Paulo. The church has had other bussinesses, such as clothing brand Gospel Wear, publisher Editora Renascer, Gospel Café, the newspaper Gospel News, and others.
In 2005, Estevam and Sônia created CIEAB – Confederação das Igrejas Apostólicas do Brasil (Brazilian Apostolic Churches Confederation), which gathers, according to the association’s website, 1500 leaders who represent 260 apostolic ministries. CIEAB offers their associates advice in 12 areas: legal, accounting and fiscal, ministerial, spiritual, political, musical, IT, communications, social projects, events, languages and missions. The church also maintains AREPE – Associação Renascer de Empresários e Profissionais, which aims at “establishing an alliance between self-employed professionals, businessmen, and christian professionals for growth, through Direction, Relationship and Improvement” and meets on Mondays.
Avenida Lins de Vasconcelos, 1108São Paulo, CEP 01538-000(55 11) 3115-6758www.renasceremcristo.com.br
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