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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Facing change

Reading, Pa., has a fast-growing Hispanic population and a segregation problem. Lutherans struggle to meet the challenges.

Landing on the Reading Railroad while playing Monopoly is the only contact many have with Reading, Pa. Shoppers know this small city in rural eastern Pennsylvania as the "Outlet Capital of America."

Reading recently received another designation: the most segregated city in America for Hispanics. That was the finding of a University of Michigan study on ethnic and racial segregation.

For years Germans, including many Lutherans, were the dominant ethnic group. Now Hispanics make up nearly 30 percent of the Reading population of about 75,000. Reading schools are 45 percent Hispanic.

Nearby Lancaster and Allentown also are experiencing increases. While some Hispanics have lived in the area for nearly 50 years, the last 15 years have brought the most rapid growth.


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