Caribbean Colombian Conference

By Johnny Dosanto Rhenals Ortega

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Johnny Dosanto Rhenals Ortega, M.A.P.Th. (Inter-American Adventist Theological Seminary, Mayagüez, Puerto Rico) is president of the Caribbean Colombian Conference. He has previously served as a church pastor, field secretary, field director, director of personal ministries, director of communications, and ministerial secretary. He is married to Tania Rodríguez and they have three children.

Caribbean Colombian Conference is part of North Colombian Union Conference in the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

The states of Bolívar, Sucre, and Córdoba are situated in northwest Colombia, on the shores of the Caribbean. Together with a stretch of land in the state of Magdalena, they form the Caribbean Colombian Conference. The administrative headquarters of this part of the Colombian Seventh-day Adventist Church is located in the patrimonial and historical city of Cartagena de Indias, more precisely at 1 # 3A-51 Road, La Concepción.

Statistics (June 30, 2019): Churches, 177; membership, 24,032; population, 4,954,033.1 The membership is divided into 25 districts with 18 ordained pastors and 10 licensed ministers. Currently, the conference sponsors a 370-student academy located in Cartagena de Indias.2

Origins of the Adventist Work in the Territory

Colombia became a mission in 1921 with the arrival of Pastor E. Max Trummer to Barranquilla in April of that year, along with Bible worker, L. V. Cleaves.3 At that time Pastor Trummer was president of the West Caribbean Conference with headquarters in the city of Cristóbal, Panama Canal Zone, between the years of 1920 and 1921. In 1921 the Republic of Colombia belonged to the Western Conference, together with Panama, Costa Rica, and the eastern part of the Republic of Nicaragua.4

Pastor Trummer arrived in Cereté, Córdoba, in 1922, and it is there where he baptized the first members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in our country; that is, on continental Colombia. The baptismal service included Brother José Antonio Redondo Bonilla, his wife, Ana María Camacho, and their oldest daughter, Carmen, all whom had been members of the Presbyterian Church, but who, having received a package of Adventist publications from no one they knew, avidly read its contents and became interested in the truths they found there. Brother Antonio Redondo began by evangelizing the members of his family and the church, forming a group of eight members who, in turn, shared the gospel with those they knew.5 These were the first Seventh-day Adventists in all Colombia. This was a great victory because Brother Redondo entered into the Lord’s service as a Bible worker.6 Consequently, it may be said that the gospel in Colombia began in the territory of the Caribbean Colombian Conference.

For several years this region of the country was part of the Atlantic Coast Mission, and it was not until July 26, 2003, that the Colombian Union divided the field in order to create the Caribbean Colombian region.7 The first administrators of the nascent Caribbean field were Pastor Diego Dil Doria, as president, and Brother Edgar Borja Cúdriz, as secretary-treasurer. Since the conference’s founding God’s blessings have been evidenced through the collaborative labors of administrators, the ministerial team, laypeople, leaders, and church members.

On July 26, 2006 the region became the Caribbean Colombian Mission, but a few years later, on September 23, 2015, under the leadership of Pastor Israel Leito, IAD president, and Edgar Redondo, president of the North Colombia Union, it acquired the official designation of the Caribbean Colombian Conference once again. On that same day the first Quadrennial Session of the new conference was held under the leadership of Pastor Egidio Manuel Cáceres Serpa, president; Pastor Johnny Rhenals Ortega, secretary; and Brother Odavis González Navarro, treasurer.8

Important Events That Led to the Formation of This Administrative Entity

The northern region of Colombia, known also as the Atlantic Coast, is made up of seven states, i.e. Atlántico, Bolívar, Magdalena, La Guajira, Cesar, Córdoba, y Sucre, currently with 194 municipalities recognized by the Colombian State.9

According to the latest report from the National Census Bureau for Population and Housing 2018 of the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE), the population in the Colombian Atlantic coastal region is 9,860,220; 10 that is, 22.6 percent of the country’s population. Because of the large size of both the territory and its population, the Colombian Union decided in 2003 to divide the field into what became the Atlantic Coastal Mission and the Caribbean Colombian Region.

The Atlantic Coastal Mission was headquartered in Barranquilla and covered the states of Atlántico, Magdalena, Cesar, La Guajira, and the southern state of Bolívar; while the new Caribbean Colombian Region had its headquarters in Cartagena de Indias, with the following states under its jurisdiction: Bolívar, Sucre, and Córdoba, and a fringe of the state of Magdalena.

In the beginning, in 2003, our territory included twelve districts, 94 organized churches, seven ordained pastors, six departmental ministers, and one secretary-treasurer. Today, seventeen years later, we have 25 districts, 191 organized churches, 18 ordained pastors, 10 departmental ministers, one treasurer, one auditor, and one accountant.

Development and Challenges to Be Met

  • One of the strong points of this field is the missionary work carried out by small groups, along with the work of pastors, missionary couples or teams, and by the membership at large. In spite of the constant membership growth, intense efforts are expended on building the conference economic base in order to strengthen the work in the entered areas and open future areas where the Adventist message has not yet entered. In order to obtain these challenging achievements, Caribbean Colombian Conference seeks to educate more members, lay leaders and evangelists who will be academically and spiritually prepared to preach the gospel. It strengthens the youth through programs, clubs, and activities that equip them to preach and witness to others. The Conference works with the professionals in the church to train other members in the fields of development and entrepreneurship in order to encourage the creation of sources of work. The health and family ministries are important venues for preaching the gospel of Christ.

List of Presidents

Diego Dil Doria Doria (2003-2009); Luis Fernando Manrique (2009, 2010); Egidio Manuel Cáceres Serpa (2010-2019); Johnny Rhenals Ortega (2019-Present).

Sources

First Quadrennial Session of the Caribbean Colombian Conference., September 23, 2015, Registry of Minutes, Entry 0001, Archives of the Secretariat, Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia.

Iglesias Ortega, Enoc. Adventist Presence in Colombia, Medellín: n.p., 1996.

Ministry of National Education for the Republic of Colombia. “Caribbean Region, Atlantic Coast,” mineducación, (online) March 13, 2017.

Minutes of the Inauguration of the Caribbean Colombian Region, July 23, 2003. Registry of Minutes, Archives of the Secretariat, Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia.

National Administrative Department of Statistics DANE, Republic of Colombia. “National Census of Population and Housing 2018 and Socioeconomic Challenges in the Caribbean Region,” DANE, August 8, 2019.

Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church. “Adventists in Colombia,” interamerica.org (online), February 13, 2017.

Quadrennial Session of the Caribbean Colombian Mission, September 23, 2015, Registry of Minutes, Entry 0001, Archives of the Secretariat, Cartagena de Indias, Bolívar, Colombia.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, Washington, D.C.: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2019.

Notes

  1. “Caribbean Columbian Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (2020), accessed November 2, 2020, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=30945.

  2. Personal knowledge of the author as the president of Caribbean Columbian Conference.

  3. Enoc Iglesias Ortega, Presencia Adventista en Colombia (The Adventist Presence in Colombia) (Medellín: n.p. 1996), 79.

  4. Ibid.

  5. Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Dia Filadelfia (Philadelphia Seventh-day Adventist Church), “Adventistas en Colombia” (“Adventists in Colombia”) interamerica.org, February 13, 2017, accessed August 1, 2020, https://filadelfiaiasd.interamerica.org/adventistas-en-colombia.

  6. Iglesias Ortega, 80.

  7. Inauguration of the Caribbean Colombian Region, July 23, 2003, Registry of Minutes, Archives of the Secretariat, Caribbean Colombian Conference.

  8. First Quadrenniel Session of the Caribbean Colombian Conference, September 23, 2015, Registry of Minutes, Entry 0001, Caribbean Colombian Conference.

  9. Ministry of National Education for the Republic of Colombia, “Caribbean Region, Atlantic Coast,” mineducación, (Ministry of Education) March 13, 2017, consulted on July 15, 2020, http://www.mineducacion.gov.co/1621/articles-283230_archivo_pdf_perfil.pdf.

  10. National Administrative Department of Statistics DANE, Republic of Colombia, “National Census of Population and Housing 2018 and Socioeconomic Challenges in the Caribbean Region,” DANE, August 8, 2019, consulted July 1, 2020, https://www.dane.gov.co/files/censo2018/informacion-tecnica/presentaciones-territorio/080819-CNPV-presentacion-RegionCaribe.pdf.

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Ortega, Johnny Dosanto Rhenals. "Caribbean Colombian Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 10, 2021. Accessed January 21, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8IHX.

Ortega, Johnny Dosanto Rhenals. "Caribbean Colombian Conference." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 10, 2021. Date of access January 21, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8IHX.

Ortega, Johnny Dosanto Rhenals (2021, January 10). Caribbean Colombian Conference. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 21, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=8IHX.