Methodism arrived in Chile through the efforts of William Taylor in 1877-78. His self-supporting missions on the west coast of South America saw the arrival of missionaries from the United States, the establishment of schools and eventually the evangelization work in the Spanish language.
The mission came under the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1893, when the South American Conference was organized with Chile as one of its districts. In 1960 the Methodist Church of Chile became autonomous electing a bishop and adopting its own statutes and regulations.
At present the Methodist Church of Chile extends throughout the whole country. There are 126 congregations and preaching points with a membership of 17,600. There are 73 active ministers, one bishop and seven district superintendents. The educational, social and health ministries of the church coordinate the extensive work of institutions and programs in the seven districts.
The motto for this period is “opening spaces and places for the mission.”
Various attempts at establishing the Methodist Church in Colombia were not able to succeed in demonstrating the spirit of unity that characterizes a Christian mission and is part of the Methodist family. Bishop Isaias Gutierrez V., first to set foot on Colombia in 1982, had been previously informed of the work done by Bishop Armando Rodriguez of Cuba and Bishop Joel Mora of Mexico. The work begun by Pastor Gustavo Tibazosa Quiroga had run into serious obstacles, which finally led to its breaking into two independent groups.
Finally, in 1989, the “Methodist Christian Community in Colombia” was created. Headed by Pastor Luis Castiblanco, his marked Wesleyan accent became known throughout the popular neighborhood, Chapeinero, within the city of Bogota. They established two churches; however, there were too many obstacles in their path to further spread their work. Nevertheless, this expansionist yearning finally became possible with the arrival of the Rev. Manuel Grajales and his wife to the City of Armenia in the year 1996. Welcomed with jubilation by the United Methodist Church in the USA, Pastor Grajales managed to initiate work in Calarca with new strength. He was also able to Email evangelic leaders of great evangelic zeal and who were appreciated by the Methodist Church, its doctrine, identity, strong educational and social emphasis, its ecumenical opening, among other distinct expressions.
In February of 1997, Bishop Isaias Gutierrez V., President of CIEMAL, visited them for the first time. He has since realized consecutive visits to all of the works thus established in Colombia and has presided over assemblies and district gatherings, especially since the return of the Grajaleses to the United States for health reasons in 1998.
Presently there are two defined regions: the Capitol District and the Western District. The Capitol District’s work in the Chapinero neighborhood has great possibilities for extension, for which we are looking for resources. This work embraces health and social service programs as well as numerous ecumenical Emails that bring prestige to their work. The Western District includes churches and missions that have established in the Eje Cafetero: Calarca, Armenia, Pereira; in the Cali Valley: El Lido, Floralia, Agua Blanca, Los Laureles, more than one mission in the Northern Neighborhood of Cali; in Palmira; and the Church in Neiva by brotherly relationship. Their educational work comprehends an elementary and secondary school for 300 children along with the “John Wesley” Academy for long distance degrees. They are also hoping to establish an arts and business school. The social work consists of an open center for 200 very poor children, two day care centers, a welcome house, and a rehabilitation center for young drug addicts.
We have an integrated ministerial staff, composed of 15 pastors and seminaries, numerous lay leaders and a community of 1,300 participants.
We give thanks to God for being part of the Methodist Church in Colombia, called on to be an expression of a new rising amidst our convulsed society.