Voices from the border and beyond
From January 23 to February 1, 2015, the Voices from the Border and Beyond seminar, organized by the Presbyterian Mission Agency, traveled the border, inviting participants to listen to the often-unheard voices of the women and children—from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador—who make the terrifying and risky trek north for refuge in the U.S. Seminar participants will learn of decades of poverty, failed government policies, broken families, lack of protection for children, and violence plaguing Central America’s northern triangle. The seminar includes conversations with Presbyterian Border Region Outreach as well as ecumenical partners in Guatemala and El Salvado
—Desert pathways to a future uncertain
Complex issues inspire refugees’ journeys—and reactions to them.
—Two women, two borders, one cause
Two women witness the plight of thousands trying to escape poverty and violence...
—Dreams and dangers
For many migrants, the lure of a better life means risking countless perils
—Hope — but then horror
For some seeking a better life, the path to America can lead to unspeakable terror and suffering
Binational border ministry celebrates 30th year
The binational Presbyterian ministry celebrated its 30th anniversary with a service, food and music and about 100 people from both sides of the border — with some coming from as far as Florida. The ministry was born in 1984 out of the idea of having two churches on both sides of the border truly working together, said founding member Jerry Stacy, who traveled from San Antonio to be part of the event. “We wanted to learn how to build bridges of common understanding and friendship,” he said.
Frontera de Cristo is one of seven binational ministries of the Presbyterian Church from San Diego/Tijuana to McAllen/Reynosa. It’s one of the most progressive, Stacy said. “They’ve even gone beyond the border.”The idea is to not only address the humanitarian issues related to immigration, but to also address the root causes of why people come in the first place.—Arizona Daiy Star
Intervention is key to protecting minors from violent drug culture, Mexico International Peacemaker Rosario Jocabed (Joca) Gallegos Viesca says
National Presbyterian Church of Mexico excludes recently ordained woman pastor
Pastor Cira Hernández Gutiérrez, who was ordained to the priestly ministry in the Communion of Presbyterian and Reformed Churches of Chiapas on December 15, 2013, was excluded from the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico just over a month later, because of differences in ways the Bible is read and understandings of the role of women in the church.—Latin America and Caribbean Communication Agency (ALC)
Censorship and impunity threaten democracy in Mexico
Mexico has one of the highest ratings on the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) 2013 Impunity Index, which measures the frequency with which journalist murders go unpunished. Crimes against journalists are rarely prosecuted in Mexico, and when they are, evidence can be highly suspect.—ALC, WACC
Presbyterian Border Region Outreach (PBRO) formed
Over the past year representatives from the six Border Ministry sites, the six border presbyteries in the United States, and PC(USA) World Mission have met numerous times to discern God’s future for ministry on the Border. Decided: a new name, a concise mission, and hiring of new staff to help all six sites in this ministry. Read more.
Update on former PC(USA) Mexico personnel
When the official partnership between the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM) and the PC(USA) ended on August 19, 2011, there were 11 mission co-workers from PC(USA) World Mission serving in México. Here is a update on what they are doing now, courtesy of Dave Thomas:
- Omar Chan, Facilitator for Presbyterian Border Region Outreach (PBRO).
- Rev. Rachel Anderson, formerly U.S. coordinator of Pueblos Hermanos, one of the six binational ministry sites of Presbyterian Border Ministry (PBM). Now working in Louisville, Ky., as program assistant for itineration support in the World Mission offices.
- Rev. Mark Adams, who was U.S. coordinator of Frontera de Cristo PBM. Now continuing to serve with Frontera de Cristo, but in a new organizational structure that does not officially involve the INPM at a denominational level. Still employed by PC(USA) World Mission.
- Miriam Maldonado-Adams, who was assigned to mission service with her husband, Mark. Now serving with Frontera de Cristo, but in a new organizational structure.
- Chris McReynolds, formerly U.S. coordinator of Proyecto Amistad PBM. Married to a Mexican national, now continuing to serve with Proyecto Amistad, which has become an independent ministry with a national scope focused on Christian education for children. Based in México City and employed through The Antioch Partners.
- Susie Frerichs-Hernández, who was serving with the Presbiterio de Las Huastecas, in Frijolillo. Married to a Mexican national, now serving as a lay missionary with the same INPM presbytery and continuing to live in Frijolillo.
- Rev. Donald Wehmeyer, professor at the San Pablo Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Mérida, Yucatán. Now serving in México through The Antioch Partners.
- Dr. Martha Wehmeyer, who was serving in mission support and team ministry in Mérida, Yucatán. Now serving in México through The Antioch Partners.
- David Thomas, formerly PC(USA) regional liaison for México. Now retired and living in the U.S.
- Susan Thomas, R.N., who was serving in mission support and team ministry with her husband. Now living in the U.S. and preparing to return to the nursing profession.
PC(USA) and Mexican synods maintain ties along border despite denominational dispute
The PC(USA) synods of the Southwest and Sun and the Sinodo del Israel and Sinodo del Noroeste in Mexico entered into negotiations and discussions to begin a joint mission to — among other things — help address migration and immigration issues, violence against women, poverty and the economics of Mexico. Read more
Border ministries meet
Seventeen representatives of the ministries along the U.S./Mexico border met February 8–10, 2012, in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, for their annual meeting. Following the determination of the Mexican Presbyterian Church to sever relations with the PC(USA) it was necessary to refocus and to reorganize. The border ministries all expressed a determination to continue in the ministries they have been called to. The necessary restructuring and by laws corrections were initiated and will continue throughout the year.
World Mission committed to continue ministry in Mexico and along border; mission personnel still need support
November 14, 2011
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) mission personnel assigned to Mexico and along the 2,000-mile U.S. - Mexico border still need support as they continue in deployment and discernment. World Mission is committed to continue to answer Christ’s call to serve alongside Mexican Christians in the wake of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico’s decision to sever ties. Read more
Mexican Church, World Mission and Presbyterian Border Ministry reach agreement
September 9, 2011
The leadership of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM), Presbyterian World Mission (WM) and Presbyterian Border Ministry (PBM) met on Thursday, September 8, 2011 and reached this agreement . Danny Ramirez (President), Amador Lopez (Secretary) and Moises Zapata represented the INPM. Hunter Farrell (Director), Maria Arroyo (Latin America and The Caribbean Area Coordinator) and Dave Thomas (Regional Liaison) represented WM. Ramon Garcia, John Nelson and Tomas Sanchez represented PBM.
The agreement allows the INPM to keep faith with its recent Assembly's decision regarding its relationship to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and allows PC(USA) presbyteries and congregations to continue to respond to God's call to mission along the United States/Mexican border.
Because the issues of poverty among women and children, evangelism and violence have emerged as World Mission's highest priorities, WM is committed to assisting the PBM sites and participating presbyteries (both Mexican and U.S.) in a thorough collaborative evaluation of its shared work and strategic planning for the future.
We will update this web page as more information becomes available.
Webinar on Presbyterian World Mission’s Response to Mexican Church Decision
English-language and Spanish-language Webinars on Presbyterian World Mission’s Response to Mexican Church Decision
The Changing Landscape of God’s Mission in Mexico: U.S. Presbyterians Respond
§ Hunter Farrell, Director of Presbyterian World Mission
§ Maria Arroyo, World Mission Area Coordinator, Latin America and the Caribbean
§ Dave Thomas, World Mission Regional Liaison for Mexico
§ Joanie Lukins, Yucatan Network Coordinating Team Moderator and Lead Instructor, Living Waters for the World (English Webinar only)
§ Sarah Ott, Convener, Mexico Mission Network (English Webinar only)
See the Spanish language webinar
See the English language webinar
Sadness and respect guide PC(USA) actions
On Monday, August 22, Presbyterian World Mission leaders received a communiqué from leaders of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM) officially documenting the decision of the Mexican church to sever the historic 139-year relationship between INPM and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
The decision occurred on Friday, August 19, in response to PC(USA) actions on Amendment 10-A regarding ordination standards. Hunter Farrell, director of Presbyterian World Mission, voiced his sadness in response to the decision, “We have had initial conversations with Mexican church leaders since the decision, and together we shared a hope for healing and a renewed ability to engage God’s mission together, but at this moment, this is not possible and it brings me great sadness.” He continued, “We have a deep respect for the voice of international partners, because partnership is at the core of our understanding of Christ’s mission around the world, so we have listened very carefully to the Mexican church leaders.”
World Mission has eleven mission co-workers deployed in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexico border region. In addition, eighteen presbyteries and three synods have partnership efforts in Mexico. The Presbyterian Border Ministry has been a joint effort of the PC(USA) and the INPM, involving nine U.S. presbyteries serving in coordinated ministry across six sites. Many presbyteries are also involved in Mexico through the Living Waters for the World project. Numerous congregations have also been involved in partnerships and exchanges with INPM congregations.
As a result of the INPM decision, according to Farrell, World Mission cannot continue its participation in these ministries in their current form. “Our ministries have been built on the foundation of a joint partnership between our two churches,” said Maria Arroyo, area coordinator for PC(USA) work in Latin America and the Caribbean, “and without that foundation we have immediately begun to re-assess each of our ministries.” World Mission will be working with mission co-workers individually to determine next steps and possible alternative deployments.
“The staff of World Mission are aware that many Presbyterians have planned future short-term mission trips in partnership with Mexican presbyteries or congregations, but, at this point, because of the decision of the INPM,” Farrell said, “we are unable to encourage these visits.”
“However,” Farrell added, “ in this time of rising poverty, heightened violence, and a deep need for the gospel of Jesus Christ in both countries, God's call to us to be engaged in mission in Mexico and the U.S.-Mexican borderlands continues and we will be discerning how to do that.” Support continues to be needed for the mission co-workers and future PC(USA) work in the region during this time of transition.
“Over the past few days,” Farrell said, “the hearts of many of our mission workers have been breaking over this decision. We have many close brothers and sisters in Christ in the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico. The words of Psalm 133, ‘How good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity…’ which have often been celebrated in our common life, are painful now in the absence of unity, but we dare to hope together for the day, when as Jesus prayed, we might be one.”
Read a brief history of Mexico
Mexico (former) Partner Church
National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM)
The National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM) has seven synods and 40 presbyteries. In 1872 the first mission personnel from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (PC(USA)) went to Mexico, and in 1893 personnel from the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (PCUS) arrived. The turmoil of the Mexican Revolution forced them out in 1913. A few years later a conference with representatives from historic Protestant churches divided Mexico into different mission territories, allotting southern Mexico to the Presbyterians and northern Mexico to the Methodists. The Mexican church was neither consulted nor asked to participate, and even today this action remains inexplicable in the minds of Mexican Christians.
In its centennial celebration in 1972, the INPM asked the U.S. Presbyterian churches for a temporary suspension of relations. By requiring all U.S. missionaries to leave the country the INPM gave itself the space to become a truly national and independent body, one that would set its own agenda and priorities. The priorities it set are evangelism, theological education, and new church development. Relations were re-established in 1980 when the U.S. and Mexican churches developed a new way to do mission together, embodied in a covenant called "A New Relation in Joint Mission." The new relationship commits the churches to make all mission decisions together.
The INPM has seminaries, Bible schools, and women's mission schools in different parts of the country. Although the INPM does not ordain women, many educated and qualified women graduate from seminaries and mission schools. The INPM women's organization is well organized and is a strong presence in the church.
The seven mission sites of the Mexico–U.S. Border Ministry were the first major projects the two churches worked on jointly. These ministries are good examples of mutual mission. Mexican and U.S. mission workers and board members overcome cultural distinctions and theological differences to carry out work together. Many PC(USA) members have taken part in this ministry and have been strengthened in their faith by it.
In Chiapas, the southernmost state in Mexico, 40 percent of evangelicals are Presbyterians. During the mid to late 1990s Chiapas was the scene of an armed, indigenous uprising by the Zapatista National Liberation Front (FZLN) and its aftermath. Many Presbyterians were uprooted by the turmoil. The INPM has stood with these brothers and sisters and has advocated for resolution of the injustices in Chiapas.
Mexico Partner Organization
Presbytery and synod partnerships
Presbytery of Arkansas
Presbytery of Charlotte
Presbytery of Coastal Carolina
Presbytery de Cristo
Presbytery of Geneva
Presbytery of Grand Canyon
Maumee Valley Presbytery
Presbytery of New Covenant
Northeast Georgia Presbytery
Presbytery of Redstone
Presbytery of San Diego
Presbytery of San Jose
Presbytery of Santa Fe
Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley
Presbytery of South Alabama
Tres Rios Presbytery
Presbytery of Tropical Florida
Upper Ohio Presbytery
Whitewater Valley Presbytery
Synod of Living Waters
Synod of the Sun
Mexico Mission Network
- For information contact Amanda Craft
The Mexico Mission Network is among more than 40 networks that connect Presbyterians who share a common mission interest. Most participants are involved in mission partnerships through congregations, presbyteries or synods. Network members come together to coordinate efforts, share best practices and develop strategies.
Learn more about Mexico
Visit the BBC country profile.
2015 Presbyterian Mission Yearbook for Prayer & Study, p. 75