A sermon in 1859 in the chapel of Princeton Seminary inspired the first Presbyterian missionary to come to Brazil. Today Brazil, while continuing to be the largest Roman Catholic country in the world, also has broad religious diversity. The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partners with the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil, one of several local Presbyterian denominations, through sending mission personnel who focus on redeveloping small churches. The United Presbyterian Church of Brazil focuses on church growth, ecumenism and lifting up a prophetic voice against injustice. Presbyterian World Mission also partners with the Graduate Program for Religious Studies of the Methodist University of São Paulo (UMESP), one of the region’s premier graduate theological faculties.
Gordon and Dorothy Gartrell
The Gartrells live in Gobernador Mangabeira, Bahia, in Northeast Brazil. They train lay leaders, focusing on evangelism and strengthening the ministry of small churches. The United Presbyterian Church has asked them to specialize in redeveloping small congregations that have had difficulties.
Read more about their ministry on their profile page.
Dennis and Maribel Smith
The Smiths live in Buenos Aires. Dennis is Regional Liaison for Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile (the Southern Cone) and Brazil. He cultivates relationships with PC(USA) mission partners, supervises mission co-workers and encourages partnerships between US churches and churches in the region.
Read more about their ministry on their profile page, which you can find here.
The United Presbyterian Church of Brazil
The United Presbyterian Church of Brazil was created in 1978 when Brazil’s oldest Presbyterian denomination expelled dozens of church leaders who, in a context of military dictatorship, were committed to maintaining a prophetic social witness, supported the ordination of women and enjoyed strong ecumenical relationships with other Protestants and the Roman Catholic Church. Today the United Presbyterian Church of Brazil combines its historic passion for ecumenism and social justice with a renewed commitment to evangelism and new church development. The church participates in the National Council of Christian Churches of Brazil, the Alliance of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches in Latin America and the Latin American Council of Churches.
The Graduate Program for Religious Studies
The program is located at the Methodist University of São Paulo and is one of the premier graduate schools for the study of religion in Latin America. Many Latin American Presbyterian church leaders have completed their graduate study here. The program is also available to provide orientation to mission study groups and Presbyterian seminary delegations seeking better to understand where and how God is working in Brazil. Presbyterian World Mission has placed mission co-workers with the necessary academic credentials on the faculty in the past and will continue to do so in the future.
The United Presbyterian Church of Brazil wants to build mission partnerships with churches and presbyteries in the U.S. Are you interested in Urban Ministry? Evangelism? Youth ministry? Education? Social Justice? The United Presbyterian Church can offer you opportunities for sharing and learning with Brazilian sisters and brothers that will challenge and bless you.
Whatever happened to Liberation Theology? Why are Pentecostal churches growing so rapidly in Latin America? The Graduate Program for Religious Studies at the Methodist University of São Paulo can provide a space where your Seminary class or mission study group can explore these and other questions with world class theologians while praying, working and worshiping with Brazilian Presbyterians.
Brazil and the Critical Global Initiatives
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Portugal has asked the IPU and Presbyterian World Mission to help them to alleviate a critical shortage by sending trained IPU pastors to serve as missionaries in Portugal. A key objective in this project will be to train lay leaders in Portugal.
Alleviating Poverty: At a recent meeting of IPU leaders, one shared how their congregation was providing after-school help – including English classes and music lessons – for children in their poor neighborhood. Another, a psychologist, shared how her congregation was providing counseling and accompaniment for those battling substance abuse.
Reconciliation: Despite recent gains, the gap between rich and poor in Brazil is great. Since their beginning, the IPU has accompanied and advocated for the rights of the landless, especially in Brazil’s impoverished Northeast.
Brazil Mission Network allows US churches and presbyteries to share and coordinate with Brazilian mission partners. Join us! Contact Dennis Smith for details at email@example.com.