Mission worker: Dennis Smith, regional liaison for Brazil and the Southern Cone
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) traces the beginning of its involvement in Chile to 1845, with the arrival of missionary David Trumbell. As in most of Latin America, one of the principal obstacles to the growth of Protestant churches has been the connection between the Roman Catholic Church and the state. Our partner churches throughout their history have struggled to grow and minister in the midst of outward challenges and internal divisions.
The PC(USA) engages with our Chilean partners in ministry through mission personnel, social advocacy, community development and theological education.
Read a brief history of Chile
The Presbyterian churches in Chile trace their beginnings to the arrival of David Trumbell on Christmas Day 1845. As in most of Latin America, one of the principal obstacles to church growth was the integration between the Roman Catholic Church and the state. When the first sanctuary was constructed in 1855 the government ordered that a high wall be built around it in order to hide it from public view. In 1883 the Chilean congress approved a law permitting the formation of non-Catholic cemeteries and legalized civil marriage. Five years later laws were enacted that permitted religious entities to own property, run schools, and celebrate religious services.
The church that David Trumbell helped to found had such strong ties with the United States that it did not become an autonomous church, but became the Presbytery of Chile in the New York Synod. In 1964 that presbytery became the Presbyterian Church of Chile (IPC) and thereafter received neither missionaries nor financial support. Although the U.S. church no longer had a strong relationship to the IPC, mission personnel remained in the country, relating to entities such as the Evangelical Theological Community.
The National Presbyterian Church of Chile (IPNC) was formed after a split in the original church (IPC) in 1944. At that time a number of young Chilean leaders argued that the IPC was elitist and not interested in growth and evangelism. Claiming that the presbytery was dominated by mission personnel, this group left to form the IPNC.
Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Chile (IEPC)
In another split from the Presbyterian Church in Chile (IPC) in 1972, the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Chile was formed, and the IEPC established a fraternal relationship with the Presbyterian Church in the United States in 1974. Among Chilean evangelical churches the IEPC has been a consistent voice of social concern.
Christian Presbyterian Church of Chile (ICPC)
The ICPC was founded through the mission efforts of Korean Presbyterians.
Evangelical Theological Community of Chile
This institution was founded in 1964 by Presbyterians and other churches in order to provide formal education for evangelical pastors. Until then Protestant theological education had to be obtained outside of Chile. The seminary provides theological training for men and women from 80 denominations.