*****IDEA NEWS RELEASE December 1, 1997*****


by Clifton L. Holland

IDEA Ministries, an evangelical non-denominational service agency, has been a pioneer in the creation of computerized "Strategic Mapping Information Centers"--using ATLAS GIS mapping software and IDEA Church Directory Software (ICDS)--in partnership with other Christian organizations in the following cities and countries:

(1) In the Greater Los Angeles Metro Area (GLAMA), these services have been available since 1992 in a number of locations as a joint-venture with members of the Consortium for Urban Leadership Development (COULD). Our ICDS program is operational in 25 affiliated locations with all or part of our database on ethnic and religious diversity in GLAMA, which contains over 12,500 religious groups (both Christian and non-Christian) and the 1990 Census files for the metro area; in addition, the Atlas GIS mapping program is operational in a dozen affiliated locations as part of a research and information network, called the "Los Angeles AD2000 Project," coordinated by IDEA Ministries.

(2) These same services have been available since May of 1994 in the Mexico City Metro Area (MCMA) in partnership with VELA Ministries (Visión Evangelizadora para América Latina/Latin America Evangelistic Vision), with offices in Colonia Lindavista, Delegación Gustavo A. Madero. IDEA provided the computer equipment, software and training to facilitate the establishment of the "National Evangelical Research and Information Center" (known as CENII in Spanish: Centro Evangélico Nacional de Investigación e Información), which is staffed and managed by VELA Ministries.

(3) Since June '95 PROLADES has been operational using both software programs and new computer equipment at its regional office for Latin America in San Jose, Costa Rica. However, in June '94 PROLADES assisted in the creation of Costa Rica's "National Center for Socio-Religious Research" (known as CISRE in Spanish) in the offices of IMDELA (Missiological Institute of the Americas/School of World Mission), which is now the Evangelical University of the Americas (UNELA).

The chief technical advisor for these projects is Clifton L. Holland, who resides in San Jose, Costa Rica, Central America. Holland is Director of IDEA's Regional Office for Latin America & the Caribbean (known by its Spanish acronym, PROLADES: Programa Latinoamericano de Estudios Sociorreligiosos/Latin American Socio-Religious Studies Program). Since 1977, PROLADES has provided technical assistance to Christian leaders in more than a dozen countries in the Americas for the purpose of defining and measuring the growth of the Protestant Movement, as well as determining who are the "unreached" people groups in each country and how to reach them with the Gospel of Christ.


PROLADES and VELA have worked together in Mexico City since 1986, when they jointly sponsored the "Mexico Hoy y Mañana" (Mexico Today and Tomorrow) Project. This massive research effort has been coordinated by VELA with technical assistance from PROLADES. It has mobilized over 50 people in a variety of related activities that are designed to measure the "harvest force" (the Evangelical Church and its related institutions and ministries) and the "harvest field" (the "unconverted" and who and where they are). This project has been supported by over a dozen Christian agencies that have provided funding, personnel and/or technical assistance.

To date, a six-volume series has been published in Spanish by VELA/PROLADES on the MCMA:

Now the scope of the research effort in Mexico has shifted from Mexico City to a national study of the "harvest force" and the "harvest field." At the end of April '94, Holland and Daryl Platt (a member of the International Team of Overseas Crusades) drove from Los Angeles to Mexico City, where they delivered and installed a new computer system (donated by a Korean church in Los Angeles) at the VELA office as part of the establishment of CENII. After interviewing a dozen candidates, VELA hired Mr. Alejandro Reséndez as Coordinator of CENII; then he was trained for three weeks by Holland and Platt as part of the implementation of a "permanent national research function" (PNRF) for Mexico.

Dr. Peter Larson, who serves with VELA as Associate Director for Missiological Studies (on loan from the Foreign Mission Board of the Baptist General Conference), is coordinating the massive fieldwork phase of this national research project. Volunteers are being trained as researchers to work in each of Mexico's thirty-two states; eight regional coordinators will supervise the gathering of data in the areas under their jurisdiction through interviews with local pastors, service agencies and denominational officials.

During the next few years, CENII will produce the first series of reports on the Republic of Mexico similar to those listed above that were done by VELA-PROLADES on Mexico City. Included in the new reports will be an update on the status of the Evangelical Church in Mexico City, as well as special reports on other major cities of Mexico. One of the major priorities for CENII is to define and verify the least evangelized people groups, as well as to monitor progress toward planting new evangelical churches among these groups.


Since 1992, Holland and his associates have conducted a comprehensive research project that has focused on all religious groups in the Greater Los Angeles Metro Area (Los Angeles and Orange counties), but data has been gathered on other counties as well: Ventura, San Bernardino and Riverside. The purpose of this study is to define and evaluate the status of the "harvest force" and the "harvest field" in a diverse urban context: Metro Los Angeles is now the major port of entry for new immigrants to the USA, and a place where non-Anglos (including Hispanics) are now the majority and Anglos are a minority.

This massive database includes (1) all religious groups (both Christian and non-Christian), with over 12,500 listings, that are identified by ethnic, denominational and classification codes (based on a typology adapted from Dr. J. Gordon Melton's Encyclopedia of American Religions, Fourth Edition, Detroit, MI: Gale Research, 1993); (2) all ethnic groups (based on race, language, national origin, and ancestry of the population); and (3) five levels of geographical definition (from "county" to "census tract") that are correlated to census data for 1980-90.

The original "Resource Center for Urban Ministry" that Holland created at IDEA's Pasadena office in January 1992, located on the campus of the U.S. Center for World Mission/William Carey International University, was moved to the Bresee Institute for Urban Training in December 1992. This project was developed under the sponsorship of the Consortium for Urban Leadership Development (COULD), and the "COULD Resource Center" was administered for several years by the Bresee Institute, located at the First Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles. Since 1995, the Paraclete Mission Group in Altadena, directed by Mr. Phil Elkins, has been the main depository of the research archives, databases and mapping resources for the IDEA-GLAMA Urban Resource Center.

Mr. Ben Capps of YWAM worked with Holland in the development of the GLAMA database and became the principal trainer using ATLAS GIS software, while Holland finalized the production of IDEA's Church Directory Software (ICDS) and the ICDS User's Manual, with technical assistance from Mr. Alan Young using Clarion Professional Developer. Now, Holland and Young provide technical support for users of the ICDS program, while Holland also provides training in the use of Atlas GIS software.

Whereas the ICDS program is operational in more than 24 locations in the Los Angeles 5-Country Region, there are only about 10 locations where information is available from the GLAMA database using ICDS and ATLAS GIS software: the Bresee Institute at First Church of the Nazarene in Los Angeles (Jolly Beyioku); the Institute for Urban Training extension program (Michael Mata) at the First Methodist Church of Los Angeles (a program of the School of Theology at Clarement); the Korean Frontier Mission in Los Angeles (Mary Park); the Religious Studies Department of USC in Los Angeles (Grace Dyrness); Rolling Hills Covenant Church in Rolling Hills (Jean Honeyman); Grace Brethren Church in Long Beach (Robert Shevelle); the California Prayer Evangelism Network (CPEN) in West Los Angeles (Tim Childs); the Los Angeles Southern Baptist Association in Downey (Robert Sowell); Paraclete Mission Group in Altadena (Phil Elkins); Mission Aviation Fellowship in Redlands (Bob Gordon); and IDEA Ministries in Orange (Alan Young). Robert Gordon of Mission Aviation Fellowship in Redlands is working with the Inland Empire A.D. 2000 Committee in the development of an Inland Empire Database (parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties) using the ICDS and ATLAS GIS programs.

(NOTE: the address information below has been updated to May 2000)

Clifton L. Holland, Executive Director
Apartado 1524-2050, San Pedro, Montes de Oca
Costa Rica, Central America
Phone: (506) 283-8300; FAX: (506) 234-7682
E-Mail: prolades@racsa.co.cr


VELA Ministries - Mexico
Apartado Postal M-9293
C.P. 06000, DF, Mexico
Phone/FAX: (525) 586-0661
E-mail: VELA1@intmex.com

VELA Ministries - USA
Mr. Galo Vasquez, President
P.O. Box 361628
Milpitas, CA 95036-1628
Phone/FAX: (408) 232-5663

(Origin text written on December 2, 1995; last update on May 20, 2000)