North Central Venezuela Conference

By Martín Humberto Meza

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Martín Humberto Meza Díaz, M.A. (Universidad de Montemorelos, Mexico), is president of North Central Venezuela Conference. For 31 years, he worked as a district pastor in the territory of Venezuela-Antilles Union Mission. In 2019, he became the executive secretary of North Central Venezuela Conference and was later appointed its president.

First Published: March 22, 2023

The North Central Venezuela Conference is an administrative unit of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in West Venezuela Union Mission in the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Territory: The states of Carabobo, and Cojedes.

Statistics (June 30, 2022): Churches, 80; membership, 20,549; population, 2,692,362.1

The North Central Venezuela Conference operates two radio stations, one located in San Carlos, Cojedes, and the other in Puerto Cabello, Carabobo. It supports two church schools in Carabobo State; the first is the Unidad Educativa Colegio Adventista Maranatha located in Sector Agua Blanca of Parroquia San José in the Valencia Municipality, and the second is the Unidad Educativa Colegio Adventista Elena G de White located on Av. Valmore Rodríguez in front of the “Las Palmeras” residential complex in Sector Bárbula of Parroquia Bárbula in the Naguanagua Municipality. It also has a dental office, which operates within North Central Venezuela Conference’s headquarters.

The headquarters of the Central North Venezuela Conference are located on Avenida Principal Entre 3er y 4ta. Ave, Casa No. 19; Urbanización Santa Cecilia; Valencia, Estado Carabobo; Venezuela.2

Origins of Adventist Work in the Territory

Venezuela was going through a complicated political transition in 1958. By then, the town of Valencia was already known as an “industrial city.” This helped Adventist work progress as Adventist families from other parts of Venezuela and other countries established themselves in Valencia.

In 1958, Noé León and his family arrived from Colombia, searching for better work opportunities in Valencia. Through his personal missionary work, León converted Argimiro Manrique and his wife to Adventism, and they became the first to be baptized in a ceremony at the end of 1958. About the same time, Carmen Brizuela and her daughter, Elizabet Paiva Brizuela, arrived in the city of Valencia from the city of Maracay and joined the first group of believers, who convened at the León’s house. In 1959, the colporteur Mardoqueo Jaimes and his family arrived from Colombia. The Jaimes rented a house in the city which became the meeting place for the group.3 Lorenzo Greenidge and his family arrived from Caracas to live in Valencia for work reasons. Sometime later, Hernández Reza and his family arrived from Caracas to join the growing Adventist congregation in Valencia.4 By the end of 1959, the Guy family from Trinidad was added to the group.

The first pastor to arrive in Valencia from the United States of America as a missionary was Eugene Durán and his family. Durán rented a house in the vineyard that became the meeting place for the believers of Valencia. In that same year, colporteurs Emma Materán, Víctor Morales, and Sara Manrique arrived from Colombia. At that time, Ramón Mendoza and his wife, Enriqueta, both from the city of Barquisimeto also joined the church.5

In 1962, the group of Adventists from Valencia was organized as a church. By the end of 1966, three more pastors and their families had arrived in Valencia: Alfredo Gaona, Rafael Rodríguez, and José Mendoza and his wife, Rosita. They strengthened the church by conducting social, recreational, and educational outreach activities for the community. One such activity caught the attention of the engaged couple Ángelo and Rosario Bentivegna. They became immediately interested in Adventist doctrine; thus, they were baptized and wed in the church on June 17, 1967.6

In 1970, Pastor Víctor Urbina and his family arrived. They helped inaugurate the first Adventist church in Carabobo State that same year. That church is now known as the Iglesia Central de Valencia, located diagonal to Mujica alley in Urbanización Santa Cecilia. As of 2022, there were sixty-five organized Adventist churches and fifteen Adventist groups in Carabobo State.7

In the late 1970s, the Adventist work began in Cojedes State. In 1982, Carmen de Guarenas from Maracaibo and Dominga Barreto from Los Teques, Miranda, arrived in Cojedes State. Both held meetings in their homes, and some families became interested in the Adventist faith. Later, Juvenal Villamizar and his family arrived in San Carlos from Colombia.8 Irma Camacho de Rivas from Acarigua came to visit her sister, Carmen Hercilia Camacho. Irma contacted the Adventists in the township of Pimpinela and was baptized on March 17, 1984, by José López. Carmen was baptized on July 1, 1989.

The group of believers grew significantly and rented a house on Avenida Bolívar near Plaza Miranda. This house served as a meeting place and as the home for Daniel Torres, the first pastor assigned to Cojedes State, and his family. Among the first baptized were Enoc Castillo and his wife, Yajaira Garabán. At that time, Yajaira Peña arrived from La Guaira, settled in the city of San Carlos, and joined the first group of Adventist believers.9 In 1989, the meeting place was moved to Calle Salias between Avenue Zamora and Avenue Libertad. This became the location of the main Seventh-day Adventist church in the city of San Carlos, which was inaugurated and dedicated in 1995. Currently, the North Central Venezuela Conference has ten organized churches and eight companies in Cojedes State.

Official Organization of the Conference

On September 17, 2001, the board of directors of the West Central Venezuela Conference began a feasibility study regarding territorial readjustment.10 On November 16, 2003, a constituent session was held in which North Central Venezuela Mission was organized. In the same session, Daniel Sánchez was appointed its president along with Pablo Carreño as its secretary/treasurer. The new field experienced sustained growth. In November 2003, it had sixty-seven churches, nineteen companies, and a membership of 17,523.11 From 2003 to 2007, eighteen new churches were organized in the territory of the North Central Venezuela Mission.

In 2007, the Inter-American Division Board of Directors approved the request made by the Venezuela-Antilles Union Mission to change the status of the North Central Venezuela Mission to the North Central Venezuela Conference. Williams Jiménez was appointed president of this field along with Jackson Urbina as its secretary and Floro Méndez as its treasurer.12 At this time, the field had eighteen districts, eighty-eight organized churches, nineteen companies, fifteen ordained pastors, three aspiring pastors, five Adventist secondary schools, two radio stations, a dental office, an ADRA center, and a campground where many church activities for children and adults were held.

On August 17, 2015, the first North Central Venezuela Conference congress was held. It was reported that the field had 104 churches and twenty-seven organized companies in twenty-one districts. Also in that year, 1,003 new members were added to the church. The conference was served by thirteen ordained pastors, six licensed ministers, and two aspiring to the ministry. The two Adventist secondary schools had an enrollment of 676 students. Also, the first territorial readjustment of the North Central Venezuela Conference was carried out, and the Yaracuy Venezuela Mission based in San Felipe, Yaracuy State, was established.13

Perspective Into the Future

Looking into the past and projecting the future in the North Central Venezuela Conference, many possibilities for growth are anticipated. The field has undergone ecclesiastical and spiritual growth which has allowed it to expand to new cities within the territory.

The conference looks forward to establishing a specialized medical office separate from the conference headquarters and acquiring the equipment to establish a radio station to transmit the Adventist message twenty-four-hours a day in the city of Valencia, Carabobo State.

List of Presidents

North Central Venezuela Mission: Daniel Sánchez (2003-2007), Williams Jiménez (2007-2011).

North Central Venezuela Conference: Williams Jiménez (2011-2019), Víctor Gimenez (2019-2021), Martín Humberto Meza Díaz (2021- ).

Sources

Iglesia Central de Valencia historical statistics data archives. Pastoral office. Accessed November 14, 2022. Urb. St. Cecelia Av. 105-B, Valencia, Venezuela.

North Central Venezuela Conference. Secretariat Archives. Avenida Principal Entre 3er y 4ta. Ave, Casa No. 19; Urbanización Santa Cecilia; Valencia, Estado Carabobo; Venezuela.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Accessed February 23, 2023. https://adventistyearbook.org/.

Notes

  1. “North Central Venezuela Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, accessed February 23, 2023, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=30074.

  2. Ibid.

  3. O. Paiva, interview by author, Valencia, Venezuela, March 20, 2020.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Iglesia Central de Valencia historical statistics data archives, pastoral office, 17, accessed November 14, 2022.

  7. Ibid, 27.

  8. Y. Jaimes, interview by author, Valencia, Venezuela, May 11, 2020.

  9. Ibid.

  10. North Central Venezuela Conference Board of Directors Meeting, Secretariat Archives, December 17, 2001, 50, accessed July 13, 2021.

  11. North Central Venezuela Conference 1st Quadrennial Session, Secretariat Archives, November 20, 2003, 65, accessed July 14, 2021.

  12. North Central Venezuela Conference Board of Directors Meeting, Secretariat Archives, May 4, 2007, 105, accessed July 25, 2021.

  13. North Central Venezuela Conference Congress, Secretariat Archives, August 17, 2015, 92, accessed August 11, 2021.

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Meza, Martín Humberto. "North Central Venezuela Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 22, 2023. Accessed June 13, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7G3R.

Meza, Martín Humberto. "North Central Venezuela Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. March 22, 2023. Date of access June 13, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7G3R.

Meza, Martín Humberto (2023, March 22). North Central Venezuela Conference. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 13, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=7G3R.