Central Chiapas Conference includes the Fraylesca region and parts of the regions of the Center and Northern part of the State of Chiapas.
Central Chiapas Conference includes the Fraylesca region and parts of the regions of the Center and Northern part of the State of Chiapas. The Fraylesca region is comprised of six municipalities: Ángel Albino Corzo, El Parral, La Concordia, Montecristo de Guerrero, Villa Corzo, and Villaflores.1 It is characterized by an important agricultural activity, the cultivation of corn, and is called “el granero de Chiapas,” or “the storehouse of Chiapas.”2 It is the only complete region within the boundaries of the conference.
The Central region is comprised of 22 municipalities, of which Acala, Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapilla, Ixtapa, Soyalo, Suchiapa, San Lucas and part of the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, State Capital, are within the territory of the conference.3 Due to the inclusion of the capital in its territory, the region has the advantages of good communication, highways and roads, access to services and government offices, and employment opportunities. This is one of the largest regions in the state.4
The northern zone consists of 23 municipalities, equal to 8.1% of the state’s territory. Nonetheless, only the municipality of Bochil is located within the conference’s boundaries.5 Its economic activities center around agriculture and business. In the three regions, the predominant language is Spanish, except in the municipalities of Ixtapa, Soyalo, and Bochil, where the majority of the people speak the Tzotzil language.6
Central Chiapas Conference consists of 144 churches, 179 groups, 29,646 members, and 37 ministers of which 20 are ordained and 17 are licensed. The conference offices are located in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, México. Central Chiapas Conference is part of Chiapas Mexican Union Conference and is located in the territory of the Inter-American Division of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.
Colegio Gilberto Velazquez Plantel Sur is located in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas. It offers pre-school and elementary education. The staff consists of 31 employees: four in administration, 19 teachers, and eight in general services. The school has 15 classrooms plus four classrooms for English, computers, music, and robotics. There is also a play area for children at the pre-school level.
Colegio Niños Héroes is located in the municipality of Villaflores, Chiapas. Currently, it offers pre-school, elementary, middle school, and high school. The staff consists of 22 employees: three in administration, 16 faculty, and three in general services. The school’s infrastructure has 20 classrooms, two additional classrooms for computers and English classes, and a science lab. There is also a children’s play area for pre-schoolers.
Orión Campground is located off of Highway Ocozocoautla of Espinosa and Villaflores, two municipalities in the state of Chiapas. It has an area of 45 hectares. It has the following facilities: an auditorium, a dining room, a kitchen, a basketball court, a soccer field, two houses for camp security staff, two swimming pools, two-bathroom buildings with 31 toilets and 31 showers, and five dormitories with a total of 42 rooms. This camp is managed by Grijalva Conference on the northwest side of the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
Origins of Seventh-day Adventist Church in Central Chiapas Conference Territory
The first Adventist church in the territory of Grijalva Conference was in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas. The first missionaries arrived in 1913 from the state of Oaxaca, taking the coastal route until they arrived in Tapachula; on the way back, they arrived at Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Among the 15 groups which kept the Sabbath in Mexico at the end of March 1914 was one in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, a place where Catarino Jiménez sold magazines to spread the gospel.7
The gospel came to Tecpatán, Chiapas, on August 30, 1933, through Pastor Aurelio Jiménez, who was arriving from the mission Tehuantepec, Oaxaca. He was accompanied by Antonio Gutiérrez from Agua Escondida, Santos, and Palemón de Velasco from the community of San Juan Quechula of Municipio Tecpatán. They contacted the president of the municipality, Juan Damasceno Rodríguez Gómez, and requested his authorization to conduct a round of evening Bible conferences. Once this request was authorized, they began on a Wednesday at the house of Librado Márquez Náñez, president of the local government council, presenting the topic of “The Second Coming of Christ.” As a result of the Bible conferences, the first group of Adventists began with five adults and one teenager named José Rosario Mancilla Rodríguez. The first two Sabbath meetings were held at the house of the local town’s witch doctor, Calixto Cerón López. On the third Sabbath, the meeting was held at the house of Leovigildo Álvarez, who, with his wife, Procula Esteban, and their children, Pedro and Leova Álvarez, accepted the gospel.
In December 1933, the first 12 members were baptized, and, with this, the first Adventist church in Tecpatán was organized. The Tecpatán church was used as a missionary center for that region.
The first missionaries who left Tecpatán to spread the gospel to the surrounding communities were Samuel Mancilla Morales, Jose Rosario Mancilla Rodríguez, and Teacher Jesús Benito Rodríguez. In the community of Luis Espinoza, Municipio Tecpatán, Teacher Benito Rodríguez sold several Bibles and invited Brother Samuel Mancilla Morales to preach in the house of Celedonio Gutiérrez, where the widow, Agripina Jiménez, and six of Celedonio’s brothers and their respective spouses met. Joyfully, Brother Samuel preached in the Zoque language, and, by the grace of God, they accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.
Subsequent to this, Benito Rodríguez arrived at the Francisco I. Madero community in Municipio Tecpatán to prepare the area by visiting homes and searching for people who were interested in the news of salvation. Once the visiting work was completed, he invited Brother Samuel Mancilla to give Bible studies at the house of Odilon Hernández Gómez, who was converted as the first believer of that community. After that, Benito Rodríguez applied to transfer to the Emiliano Zapata development, Municipio Tecpatán, where he shared the good news of salvation, and his nephews, Manuel Gómez and Isabel Gómez, were converted as the first Adventist believers of that development. When Benito Rodríguez was transferred to teach in the community of Iturbide, Municipio Copainala, he proclaimed the truth with enthusiasm, and a widow and her four children accepted the gospel. Thus, the Adventist Church was established in that place.8
The preaching of the Adventist message continued its course in various places of Chiapas. On September 22, 1949, the Mexican Union Mission voted to purchase a plot of land to build the first church building. Its back area and second and third levels were used as the offices of South Mexican Mission and South Mexican Conference in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas. These offices served as headquarters from 1950-1975.9
In 1949, while celebrating the 50th anniversary of the presence of the Adventist Church in South Mexico, a vote was taken to purchase a plot of land for $30,000 MXN with the objective of building the first Adventist-owned church in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. This church would simultaneously serve as the headquarters of South Mexican Mission. The building was scheduled to be completed by the first quarter of 1950 to commemorate the 50th anniversary.10 Thus began the Adventist movement in the territory which now encompasses Central Chiapas Conference.
Key Events Leading to Organization of Central Chiapas Conference
In all the process of growth of the church in Chiapas, on January 22, 1948, the churches in the state of Oaxaca stopped being served by Tehuantepec Mission and transferred to the territory of Chiapas Mexican Mission, which was then renamed South Mexican Mission. It had 33 churches and 2,215 members.11
On September 22, 1949, Mexican Union Mission authorized South Mexican Mission to hold the 50th anniversary of the Adventist message’s arrival in the south of Mexico in 1950. One of the highlights was the approval of a purchase of a plot of land for building a central church in the city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez. This piece of real estate would not only serve as a church; it also became the headquarters of South Mexican Mission and South Mexican Conference from 1950 to 1975.12
South Mexican Mission continued its growth. By 1975, it had 211% of liquidity; as a result, that year, it became a conference with 58 organized churches and 22,541 members under the direction of President Jacob Savinon, Secretary Pedro Romero, and Treasurer Sergio Mejía. South Mexican Conference was the second mission of Mexican Union Mission to be organized. Also in 1975, 4,449 were baptized.13
On May 4, 1982, the board of directors of Mexican Union Mission voted to send a request to the Inter-American Division to adjust territories and create two new fields, which read in the following way: “To request that the Inter-American Division authorize the restructuring of the territories of South Mexican, Southeast Mexican, Central Mexican, and Inter-Oceanic Mexican Conferences, creating two new fields: Isthmus Mexican Conference and Soconusco Mission, in accordance with the recommendations of the commission named for this purpose.”14 This vote implied that South Mexican Conference would yield the state of Oaxaca to Isthmus Mexican Conference and, simultaneously, divide itself to form Soconusco Mission. On January 13, 1982, a session was held to celebrate the organization of the new Isthmus Mexican Conference. On January 6, 1983, Soconusco Mission was organized with headquarters in Tapachula, Chiapas.15
By 1983, South Mexican Conference was serving the central and northern parts of the state of Chiapas and had 68 churches and 38,911 members. Its leaders were President Pedro Romero, Secretary Jacob Savinon, and Treasurer Rodrigo Borras.16
In 1985, due to the growth of Adventism at the national level, Mexican Union Mission divided into North Mexican Union Mission and South Mexican Union Mission. The latter filed a request with the Inter-American Division in 1986 reading “that South Mexican Conference be divided into two conferences.”17 In 1987, it sent a new request regarding the same topic: “to request that the Inter-American Division see fit to study the division of South Mexican Conference into two fields.”18
These requests were approved. In 1989, South Mexican Conference adjusted its territory, and two conferences were formed. The first was Central Chiapas Conference with headquarters in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, 55 churches, and 29,352 members. Its administration was President David Javier Pérez, Secretary Juan Ramírez, and Treasurer Salomón Maya. The second was North Chiapas Mexican Conference with central offices at Pichucalco, 66 churches, and 39,729 members under the leadership of President Pastor Rubén Rodríguez, Secretary Araín Juárez, and Treasurer Josué Balboa.19
The growth of Adventism in Chiapas continued at an extraordinary rate. In 2005, North Mexican Conference, Soconusco Mission, and Central Chiapas Conference yielded part of their territories to the new Misión de los Altos with headquarters in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. On February 23, 2005, it was voted to transfer the districts of Altamirano, El bosque, Larrainzar, Ocosingo 1, Ocosingo 2, Puerto Rico, San Cristóbal 1, San Cristóbal 2, and Tenejapa to Misión de los Altos. These districts comprised 15 organized churches, 185 congregations, 31 branch sabbath schools, and 12,486 members.20 Two years later, due to the accelerated growth of the church, on June 14, 2007, the board of directors of Central Chiapas Conference voted to yield 10 districts to form the new West Mexican Mission. These districts were Luis Espinoza, Juan Grijalva, El Cedro, Berriozabal, Terán, Ocozocuautla, La Cumbre, Jiquipilas, Insurgentes, and Cintalapa.21 This vote was carried out on January 6, 2008. At that time, Central Chiapas Conference had 135 churches and 32,340 members. Its leaders were President Isaías Espinoza, Secretary Neftalí Álvarez, and Treasurer Roldán Gallegos.
The church in Chiapas was soon prepared to form a new union that would serve all the churches, missions, and conferences in Chiapas. In 2012, Chiapas Mexican Union Mission was formed with headquarters in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. In 2013, due to the progress, the union leaders began guiding Central Chiapas Conference to divide.22 On August 1, 2016, a document containing 43 factors to consider when dividing Central Chiapas Conference guaranteed its formality and the certainty that the territory would be divided equitably.23 This process culminated on August 14, 2016, in the constituency meeting where Grijalva Mission was formally created with the administration of President René Flores Bello and Secretary-Treasurer Nelson Cruz Gramajos. After 41 years, the headquarters of Central Chiapas Conference would now serve Grijalva Mission.
After the division, Central Chiapas Conference had 115 churches and 23,193 members with President Adriel Clemente Martínez and Secretary-Treasurer Oscar Nicolas Ruiz. As of July 2019, Central Chiapas Conference has 144 churches and 29,674 members.
Central Chiapas Conference’s Plans to Fulfill Mission
Commit each pastor to have a life of complete faithfulness and an urgent need to spread the Adventist message
Instruct and train each leader and member of the church to become involved in the preaching of Jesus Christ as the savior
Organize the church into small groups that can spread through each street, neighborhood, and community and make the message more accessible to people
Involve all young people in testifying where they live under the slogan, “Jesus in my city”
Utilize social media to share the Adventist gospel via online audio, videos, images, and conferences
Recent Experiences and Events
Training and motivation of members, especially women, to spread the Adventist message
Impacting the conference’s many cities by means of evangelistic outreach efforts
Distributing about 250,000 books with an emphasis on the wellbeing of the family throughout the entire area of the conference
Spreading the message by 60% of committed members to places where the Adventist Church is still unknown
Launching a plan to train the youth and provide materials with which each can reach five young people who do not know Jesus
What Central Chiapas Conference Needs to Fulfill Mission
Involve 100% of the members of the church in spreading the Adventist message
Consolidate and retain 100% of the church members
Involve 100% of the members in a plan of total health promoted by the Adventist Church worldwide
Fully reach all the municipalities in the territory
List of Presidents
Vicente Rodríguez (1944-1946); Max Fuss (1947-1948); Xavier Ponce (1949-1950); Francisco Reyes (1951-1952); Apolonio Camarena (1953-1956); C. R. Valenzuela (1957-1960); Vicente Limón (1961-1966); Jorge Salazar (1967-1970); Jerónimo Madrigal (1971-1974); Jacobo Savinon (1975-1978); Pedro Romero (1979-1984); Daniel Sosa (1985); Rubén Rodríguez (1986-1989); David Javier Pérez (1990-1994); Raúl Escalante (1995); Villaney Vázquez (1996-1998); Samuel Castellanos (1999-2002); Isaías Espinoza (2003-2010); Neftalí Álvarez (2011); David Celis Aguilar (2012); Adriel Clemente Martínez (2013-2018); Eloy Pérez García (2019- ).
Central Chiapas Conference Board of Directors minutes. August 1, 2016. 65-70. Accessed July 14, 2019. Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.
Central Chiapas Conference Board of Directors minutes. February 3, 2013. Accessed July 14, 2019. Constituency board record archives.
Central Chiapas Conference Board of Directors minutes. February 23, 2005. 2189. Accessed July 11, 2019. Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.
Central Chiapas Conference Board of Directors minutes. June 14, 2007. 2514. Accessed July 14, 2019. Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.
“Chiapas.” Enciclopedia de los Municipios y Delegaciones de México. Accessed June 27, 2019. http://www.inafed.gob.mx/work/enciclopedia/EMM07chiapas/regiones.html.
“Idioma tsotsil.” Wikiwand. Accessed June 27, 2019. https://www.wikiwand.com/es/Idioma_tsotsil.
Mexican Union Conference Board of Directors minutes. May 4, 1981, 435. Accessed July 10, 2019. Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.
“Programa Regional de Desarrollo: Región VI Frailesca.” haciendachiapas.gob.mx. Accessed June 27, 2019. http://www.haciendachiapas.gob.mx/planeacion/Informacion/Desarrollo-Regional/prog-regionales/FRAYLESCA.pdf.
“Region Centro de Chiapas: Perfil Sociodemografico: XI Censo General de Poblacion y Vivienda, 1990.” INEGI: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática. Accessed June 27, 2019. http://internet.contenidos.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/productos/prod_serv/contenidos/espanol/bvinegi/productos/historicos/2104/702825491055/702825491055_1.pdf.
“Región VI – Frailesca.” Gobierno del Estado de Chiapas: CHIAPAS NOS UNE. Accessed June 27, 2019. http://www.ceieg.chiapas.gob.mx/productos/files/MAPASTEMREG/REGION_VI_FRAILESCA_post.pdf.
Salazar Escarpulli, Velino. Cien años de Adventismo en México. Montemorelos, Nuevo León, México: Centro de Producción Unión Mexicana del Norte, 1997.
Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.
South Mexican Union Conference Board of Directors minutes. June 2 and 4, 1986. 268. Accessed July 10, 2019. Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.
South Mexican Union Conference Board of Directors minutes. September 2, 1987. 569. Accessed July 11, 2019. Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.
“Zona Centro.” Chiapas: Espíritu del mundo maya. Accessed June 27, 2019. http://www.turismochiapas.gob.mx/sectur/zona-centro-.
Amundsen, Wesley. The Advent Message in Inter-America. Washington, DC: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1947.
Cortés, Félix A., and Velino Salazar Escarpulli. Esforzados y Valientes. Montemorelos, Nuevo León, México: Editorial Perspectiva y Análisis, 2015.
Greenleaf, Floyd. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Latin America and the Caribbean. Berrien Springs, Michigan: Andrews University Press, 1992.
Sepúlveda, Ciro. Nace un Movimiento. Montemorelos, México: Publicaciones Interamericanas, 1983.
“Región VI – Frailesca,” Gobierno del Estado de Chiapas: CHIAPAS NOS UNE, accessed June 27, 2019, www.ceieg.chiapas.gob.mx/productos/files/MAPASTEMREG/REGION_VI_FRAILESCA_post.pdf.↩
“Programa Regional de Desarrollo: Región VI Frailesca,” haciendachiapas.gob.mx, accessed June 27, 2019, http://www.haciendachiapas.gob.mx/planeacion/Informacion/Desarrollo-Regional/prog-regionales/FRAYLESCA.pdf.↩
“Region Centro de Chiapas: Perfil Sociodemografico: XI Censo General de Poblacion y Vivienda, 1990,” INEGI: Instituto Nacional de Estadística, Geografía e Informática, accessed June 27, 2019, http://internet.contenidos.inegi.org.mx/contenidos/productos/prod_serv/contenidos/espanol/bvinegi/productos/historicos/2104/702825491055/702825491055_1.pdf.↩
“Zona Centro,” Chiapas: Espíritu del mundo maya, accessed June 27, 2019, http://www.turismochiapas.gob.mx/sectur/zona-centro-.↩
“Chiapas,” Enciclopedia de los Municipios y Delegaciones de México, accessed June 27, 2019, http://www.inafed.gob.mx/work/enciclopedia/EMM07chiapas/regiones.html.↩
“Idioma tsotsil,” Wikiwand, accessed June 27, 2019, https://www.wikiwand.com/es/Idioma_tsotsil.↩
Velino Salazar Escarpulli, Cien años de Adventismo en México (Montemorelos, Nuevo León, México: Centro de Producción Unión Mexicana del Norte, 1977), 114.↩
“Mexican Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, DC: General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, 1904), 75, accessed July 9, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1904.pdf.↩
Salazar E., 127.↩
“Mexican Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, DC: Review & Herald Publishing Association, 1920), 214, accessed July 9, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1920.pdf.↩
Salazar E., 125-127.↩
Ibid., 196, 198.↩
Mexican Union Conference Board of Directors, May 4, 1981, 435, accessed July 10, 2019, Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.↩
Salazar E., 212-213.↩
“South Mexican Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, Maryland: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1984), 189, accessed July 11, 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB1984.pdf.↩
South Mexican Union Conference Board of Directors, June 2 and 4, 1986, 268, accessed July 10, 2019, Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.↩
South Mexican Union Conference Board of Directors, September 2, 1987, 569, accessed July 11, 2019, Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.↩
Salazar E., 230-231.↩
Central Chiapas Conference Board of Directors, February 23, 2005, 2189, accessed July 11, 2019, Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.↩
Central Chiapas Conference Board of Directors, June 14, 2007, 2514, accessed July 14, 2019, Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.↩
Central Chiapas Conference Board of Directors, February 3, 2013, accessed July 14, 2019, constituency board record archives.↩
Central Chiapas Conference Board of Directors, August 1, 2016, 65-70, accessed July 14, 2019, Chiapas Mexican Union Conference archives.↩