Presbyterian World Mission works in partnership with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Chile. For decades, the PC(USA) has also partnered with the Evangelical Theological Community, a theological seminary that trains leaders from many Protestant denominations. While we do not have any mission co-workers serving in Chile, our regional liaisons visit Chile regularly.
Presbyterian ministry in Chile began in 1845 when David Trumbull, a recent graduate of Princeton Seminary, was hired by a British trading company to be a chaplain to expatriates in Valparaiso. Trumbull felt led by the Spirit to extend his ministry to Chileans as well as expatriates; by the 1850s, despite considerable opposition, the first Spanish-speaking, non-Roman Catholic ministry was underway. The church Trumbull helped to found had such strong ties to the U.S. that it became a presbytery of the Synod of New York, only becoming a national church in 1964.
Dennis and Maribel Smith
The Smiths live in Buenos Aires, Argentina and travel to Chile regularly. Dennis is Regional Liaison for Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, (the Southern Cone) and Brazil. He cultivates healthy relationships with PC(USA) mission partners, supervises mission co-workers and encourages partnerships between US churches and churches in the region.
Read more about the Smiths’ ministry on their profile page, which you can find here.
Contact Dennis Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org
Contact Maribel Smith at Maribel.email@example.com
The Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Chile
For decades, churches in Chile have experienced the same painful ideological divisions that have afflicted all of Chilean society. In a military coup on Sept 11, 1973, Gen. Pinochet overthrew President Allende initiating 17 years of repressive rule. The military dictatorship exacerbated existing divisions within and between already polarized churches, divisions that continue to this day. In 1974, the PC(USA) entered into a mission partnership with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church that has included evangelism, advocacy against injustice and theological education. In recent years, the church in Chile has been a pioneer in advocating for the integrity of Creation, focusing on defending water sources against contamination by mining companies.
The Evangelical Theological Community
The Evangelical Theological Community was founded in 1964 by Presbyterians and others to provide theological education for Protestant pastors and lay leaders. As more and more Chileans get a university education, students are needing a theology degree backed by academic accreditation. In a region known for difficult relationships between Catholics and Protestants, the school took the unprecedented step of negotiating with the Catholic University of Valparaiso – an accredited school – to come under their academic umbrella. With this backing, the school is now able to offer an accredited “Licentiate in Biblical-Theological Studies and Ecumenical Dialog.”
Dennis Smith is the Regional Liaison for Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, (the Southern Cone) and Brazil. Read more about his work on his profile page, which you can find here. Contact Dennis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chile is a great place to bring a mission study or work team. There are many opportunities for service and thoughtful reflection with Chilean partners on evangelism, environmental concerns, and advocacy for water rights. Contact Dennis Smith for details at email@example.com.
Our ecumenical partners in Chile are open to developing mission partnerships with PC(USA) churches and presbyteries. For an introduction, contact Dennis Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chile and the Critical Global Initiatives
Evangelism: Rev. Carlos Hernández, a Presbyterian pastor, has dedicated more than 30 years to working with Chile’s Roma population. The Bible is now available in the local Roma dialect and Roma community leaders are seeing the church as a space where they can work with hope to defend their dignity.
Alleviating Poverty: One congregation from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in Chile
operates a school for children living with different levels of disability. This award-winning school in Talca makes it possible for poor families to train and care for disabled children. For many families living with disability, this program marks the difference between their children becoming productive members of society and living a life of dependency.
Reconciliation: In a polarized society, The Evangelical Theological Community provides a safe space where mainline Protestants, Pentecostals and Roman Catholics can study theology together and discern how best to respond to the pastoral challenges facing Chilean society.
Presbytery of the Pines, serving Southern Arkansas and Northern Louisiana