History of Protestant work in Mexico has its roots in the 1810 independence movement led by dissident priests; introduction of Bibles in Spanish by 1826 and passage of the famous Civil Laws and Freedoms ratified in 1860 by the Benito Juarez government also played important roles in preparing ground for Protestantism.
All early Protestant missionaries founded their work on small groups meeting together to study the Bible. Out of such groups came some of the first pastors. For example, Alejo Hernandez was born into a wealthy family; his parents dedicated him to the priesthood at birth; seminary studies plus injustices involving the church caused him to turn this back on Christianity. He enlisted in the army to fight the French who were defending the throne of Mexico for Maximillian. Taken prisoner, Hernandez became convinced he needed to know more about the Bible. Later, in Brownsville, Texas, in search of a Bible and help to understand it, a recorded testimony tells how he felt himself moved in a way never before experienced. “I left weeping with holy joy.” With Bible in hand he returned to Mexico to share his new faith, but was turned away by family and church and forced to flee to Texas. In Corpus Christi a Methodist pastor invited him to form a class of Mexicans residing there; soon he was ordained deacon at the West Texas Conference in 1871 and assigned work in Nuevo Laredo. This was the first organized thrust into Mexico by Methodists; not the denomination but one Annual Conference.
Bishop John Keener, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, followed and purchased a “place for public worship” in February 1873. The Methodist Episcopal Church began work with a decision by the Council of Bishops in November 1872 to send Dr. William Butler who had previously served 17 years in India. Prior to Dr. Butler’s arrival, Bishop Gilbert Haven was sent to explore possibilities for work in December 1872. Returning to the USA in March 1873, he left four established congregations, preliminary work for several others and ground work for the purchase of the Gante Methodist Church in Mexico City.
On July 8, 1930, Methodism in Mexico became united and thus the Methodist Church in Mexico (Iglesia Metodista de Mexico) was born as an autonomous church. Its bishops are elected every four years. At present this church has six episcopal areas that cover 28 of the 30 states of the nation and the federal district. It has 150,000 members, 400 churches, and an estimated total Methodist community of 300,000.
It has a university, two theological seminaries, 150 centers of Theological Studies on Extension, 12 schools from kindergarten to high school, four social centers, two hospitals, two orphanages, two homes for the elderly, two clinics and one girls’ hostel.