Chiapas Mexican Union Conference includes the state of Chiapas and is comprised of 1,278 churches, 239,478 members, and eight local fields: Central Chiapas Conference, Grijalva Conference, North Chiapas Conference, Palenque Mission, Soconusco Conference, South Chiapas Conference, Upper Chiapas Conference, and West Chiapas Conference.
The offices of Chiapas Mexican Union Conference are located at Carretera Raymundo Enríquez 1065, Fraccionamiento El Arenal, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Mexico. Chiapas Mexican Union Conference is a part of the Inter-American Division.1
Origins of Seventh-day Adventist Work in Chiapas Mexican Union Conference
Thanks to the distribution of the magazine, “The Messenger of Truth,” to many parts of Mexico, people became interested in the Adventist message, were given Bible studies, and were baptized.2 After 1900, the work continued to spread from Mexico City through the states of Puebla, Oaxaca, and Chiapas through colporteurs, the distributors of Adventist literature. Juan and Aurelio Jiménez, the brothers, dedicated themselves to the ministry of the printed page. The book, Esforzados y Valientes, states that the lay missionaries took Chiapas’s coastal route, preached in all the railroad stations, and reached Tapachula at the southern tip of Mexico, almost bordering Guatemala. They then took the road to Tuxtla Gutiérrez and established a group of believers which led to the development of over 130 churches in Tuxtla Gutiérrez alone.3
The Adventist Church’s first missionaries left in 1913 from Oaxaca using the coastal route. They arrived at Tuxtla Gutiérrez to visit, sell, and deliver Adventist literature in each town of this territory.4
Developments that Led to Organization of Chiapas Mexican Union Conference
Before Chiapas Mexican Union Conference was created, the preaching of the Adventist message in Chiapas was promoted and directed by South Mexican Union Conference. During its plenary session on June 6-8, 2006, South Mexican Union Conference voted to establish the 2006-2007 strategic plan, which included the creation of a new union in Chiapas.5
In South Mexican Union Conference’s quinquennial year meeting on November 21-22, 2006, it was decided to apply to the Inter-American Division for a loan in order to purchase land and build the offices of the new union to be established in Chiapas. In 2007, the land was purchased.6
The General Conference voted to divide South Mexican Union Conference into two union missions: Southeast Mexican Union Mission and South Mexican Union Mission. Southeast Mexican Union Mission was comprised of five fields, Central Tabasco Conference, Mayab Conference, Campeche Mission, East Tabasco Mission, and Quintana Roo Mission; had 109,218 members; and had its headquarters located in Mérida, Yucatán. South Mexican Union Mission had six fields, North Chiapas Conference, Central Chiapas Conference, Soconusco Conference, Upper Chiapas Mission, South Chiapas Mission, and West Chiapas Mission; 214,610 members; and its headquarters located in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas.7 In the Inter-American Division’s mid-year meeting on May 9, 2012, South Mexican Union Mission’s administration was selected. Pastor Ignacio Navarro Pérez was named president, Pastor Dimas López López was named secretary, and Jairo Zavala Arias, CPA, was named treasurer.8 The Inter-American Division also authorized a name change: South Mexican Union Mission was renamed Chiapas Mexican Union Mission.9 With God’s blessing, Chiapas Mexican Union Mission had grown quickly and continuously. In the same year-end meeting, Chiapas Mexican Union Mission began the process to request a change in status and become Chiapas Mexican Union Conference.10
Chiapas Mexican Union Mission’s offices were officially inaugurated on October 27, 2013, by Pastor Israel Leito, Inter-American Division president, and Pastor Ignacio Navarro Perez, Chiapas Mexican Union Mission president. On January 22, 2014, the Inter-American Division evaluation committee worked to review the data which showed the viability of a change in status.11 After the analysis, the committee delivered the reports to the Inter-American Division, which, in its mid-year meeting on April 8-9, 2014, took the official vote to change the status of the union mission to Chiapas Mexican Union Conference.
Development of Chiapas Mexican Union Conference
As time passed, Chiapas Mexican Union Conference’s growth distinguished itself in missionary and financial aspects. The conference has grown to include eight local fields:
Upper Chiapas Conference: population, 1,825,460; districts, 35; organized churches, 137; organized sabbath schools, 368; number of members, 42,951.
Central Chiapas Conference: population, 821,134; districts, 25; organized churches, 128; organized sabbath schools, 173; number of members, 29,868.
Soconusco Conference: population, 569,957; districts, 23; organized churches, 132, organized sabbath schools, 174; number of members, 25,995.
North Chiapas Conference: population, 668,592; districts, 38; organized churches, 252; organized sabbath schools, 332; number of members, 48,795.
West Chiapas Conference: population, 914,294; districts, 28; organized churches, 175; organized sabbath schools, 209; number of members, 25,755.
Grijalva Conference: population, 294,359; districts, 23; organized churches, 131; organized sabbath schools, 128; number of members, 26,968.
Palenque Mission: population, 110,918; districts, 16; organized churches, 75; organized sabbath schools, 128; number of members, 16,730.
South Chiapas Conference: population, 772,543; districts, 26; organized churches, 139; organized sabbath schools, 321; number of members, 34,386.12
In four years, 84,550 church members were added to Chiapas Mexican Union Conference. However, it faces challenges that hinder its progress, namely dissidence and some of the indigenous languages within the conference’s territory. Looking through history provides ways to guide future work:
To continue promoting reform and revival in the spiritual life of the members of the church.
To achieve that all the departments of the church work in united and coordinated fashion so that, utilizing the gifts and talents that God has given us, we may finish the mission commended to the church.
To involve most of the members in the fulfillment of the mission.
To promote healthy eating and exercise as part of our lifestyle of a healthy life.
To raise awareness in the membership regarding holistic stewardship principles.
To provide young people with social media networks to share their faith, wherever they find themselves.
List of Presidents
Ignacio Navarro Pérez (2012- ).
Cortés Antonio, Félix, and Velino Salazar Escarpulli. Esforzados y Valientes. Montemorelos, Nuevo León, México: Editorial Perspectiva y Análisis, 2015.
General Conference commission year-end meeting minutes. November 16-17, 2014. General Conference archives.
Inter-American Division year-end meeting minutes. October 29, 2012. Inter-American Division archives.
Sepúlveda, Ciro. Nace un Movimiento. Montemorelos, México: Publicaciones Interamericanas, 1983.
Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Hagerstown, Maryland: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2013, and Nampa, ID: Pacific Press, 2019.
South Mexican Union Mission board of directors’ minutes. February 13, 2007. South Mexican Union Mission archives.
South Mexican Union Mission minutes. 1295. June 6-8, 2006. South Mexican Union Mission archives.
South Mexican Union Mission year-end meeting minutes. 0050. 0096. November 21-22, 2007. South Mexican Union Mission archives.
Southeast Mexican Union Conference minutes. 2011. Southeast Mexican Union Conference archives.
“Chiapas Mexican Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, accessed 2019, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=14112.↩
Ciro Sepúlveda, Nace un Movimiento (Montemorelos, México: Publicaciones Interamericanas, 1983), 67.↩
Félix Cortés Antonio and Velino Salazar Escarpulli, Esforzados y Valientes (Montemorelos, Nuevo León, México: Editorial Perspectiva y Análisis, 2015), 69.↩
South Mexican Union Mission, 1295, June 6-8, 2006, South Mexican Union Mission archives.↩
South Mexican Union Mission year-end meeting, 0050, 0096, November 21-22, 2007, South Mexican Union Mission archives.↩
“Chiapas Mexican Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, Maryland: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2013), 103, accessed 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB2013.pdf.; and “Southeast Mexican Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2013), 147, accessed 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB2013.pdf.↩
South Mexican Union Mission board of directors, February 13, 2007, South Mexican Union Mission archives.↩
“Chiapas Mexican Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2013), 103, accessed 2020, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB2013.pdf.↩
Inter-American Division year-end meeting, October 29, 2012, Inter-American Division archives.↩
General Conference commission year-end meeting, November 16-17, 2014, General Conference archives.↩