Lutheranism in Mexico

Lutheranism was first introduced to Mexico in the 1850s, when German-American Lutherans began serving German immigrants in Mexico, though mission work among the non-German population in Mexico did not begin until the 1940s.[1][2] Today there are three independent Lutheran church bodies in Mexico—the Mexican Lutheran Church (affiliated with the Lutheran World Federation), the Lutheran Synod of Mexico (affiliated with the International Lutheran Council), and the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church—Mexico (affiliated with the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference).

History

Beginning in the 1850s and extending into the 20th century, German-American Lutherans sent aid to the German Lutheran immigrants in Mexico, though they did not attempt any mission work among the non-German population in Mexico. As a result, the Lutheran Church in Mexico remained small throughout this period, numbering only 1,000 members in the 1910s.[3] In 1940, the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) began mission work in Mexico, under the name "the Mexican Lutheran Conference of Missouri." The first Lutheran missionaries focused their efforts in Mexico City, Monterrey, Nuevo León, and Torreón, Coahuila.[1]

By 1962, the recently-founded"Mexican Lutheran Church" consisted of 15 congregations. Two years later, with the assistance of several different American Lutheran church bodies, it opened Augsburg Lutheran Seminary, the first Lutheran seminary in Mexico. Around that same time, theological differences between the members of the Mexican Lutheran Church led to a division within the church, ultimately leading to the formation of the Lutheran Synod of Mexico (theologically aligned with the LCMS) and the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church—Mexico (theologically aligned with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod).[1]

Mexican Lutheran Church

The Mexican Lutheran Church (Spanish: Iglesia Luterana Mexicana or ILM) has been a member of the Lutheran World Federation since 1957 and is also a member of the Latin American Council of Churches.[4] In 2009, the ILM ordained its first female pastors. As of 2019, it had 1,500 members, 11 congregations, and nine pastors.[5] Its current president, elected in January 2018, is the Rev. Roberto Trejo Haager.[6] In 1998, the ILM jointly reopened the Augsburg Lutheran Seminary with the International Lutheran Council-affiliated Lutheran Synod of Mexico.[7]

Augsburg Lutheran Seminary

Originally founded in 1964, the Augsburg Lutheran Seminary (Spanish: El Seminario Luterano Augsburgo) is an institution of theological higher education operated by the Mexican Lutheran Church. Between 1964 and 1981, the seminary produced 33 graduates, who went on to serve congregations throughout Mexico, Central America, and portions of South America. Between 1981 and 1997, the seminary ceased to function, but it reopened in 1998 with two professors and four students. In 2011, the seminary began offering online courses.[7]

Lutheran Synod of Mexico

The Lutheran Synod of Mexico (Spanish: Sinodo Luterano de Mexico or SLM) originates from the 1940s mission work of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and the International Lutheran Laymen's League, the latter of which began broadcasting a Spanish version of The Lutheran Hour in 1941.[2][8] In 1968, the SLM became an independent sister church body of the LCMS, later joining the International Lutheran Council.[2] In 1998, the SLM jointly reopened the Augsburg Lutheran Seminary (Spanish: El Seminario Luterano Augsburgo) with the Mexican Lutheran Church, but doctrinal concerns soon led it to abandon this partnership.[7] Since 2015, the SLM has partnered with the LCMS to provide seminary education through Seminario Concordia in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana.[9][10] As of 2019, it had 1,211 baptized members, 20 congregations and preaching stations, and 12 pastors.[2][11] Its president is the Rev. Isaac Guadalupe Garcia Castillo.[11]

Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church—Mexico

The Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church—Mexico was founded in the late 1960s, when doctrinal controversies in the Mexican Lutheran Church and its Augsburg Lutheran Seminary led two pastors to seek fellowship with the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. It is a member of the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference. In 2005, the Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church—Mexico opened its own seminary.[12] As of 2019, it had 650 members, 6 pastors, 5 seminary students, 10 congregations, and 13 preaching stations. Its president is Román Aguilar.[1]


References

  1. "Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Church—Mexico". Confessional Evangelical Lutheran Conference. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  2. "Mexico". Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  3. The Lutheran Church Year Book for 1918. Philadelphia, PA: General Council Publication Board. 1918. p. 106.
  4. "Churches in Mexico". Lutheran World Federation. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  5. "Mexican church marks 10 years of women's ordination". Lutheran World Federation. April 12, 2019. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  6. Kenny, Peter (February 1, 2019). "Mexican Lutheran church leader shares his vision of a healing community of believers". Lutheran World Federation. Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  7. "Historia del Seminario Luterano Augsburgo". Retrieved April 24, 2019.
  8. Gottesman, Walter (July 29, 1999). "Rev. Andrew A. Melendez Sr., 96". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  9. Askins, Roy S. (May 11, 2016). "Grounded in the Word of God". Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Reporter. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  10. Fickenscher, Daniel (December 3, 2015). "LCMS pastor serves in Mexico — first in 20 years". Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod. Reporter. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  11. "Mexico". International Lutheran Council. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
  12. "Mission History in Mexico". Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod. Retrieved April 25, 2019.
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