Central Tabasco Conference is part of Southeast Mexican Union Mission, which in turn is part of Inter-American Division of the Seventh-day Adventists. The offices of Central Tabasco Conference are located on 101 Regino Hernández Llergo Street, Colonia Nueva Villahermosa, Tabasco. On July 4, 2019, Central Tabasco Conference had 122 organized churches, 116 groups, 46 affiliated groups, and 15,906 members. The conference is divided into Central Zone, Centla Zone, and Chontal Zone. The work is carried out by 15 pastors, four of which are office workers; 28 district pastors; and three who serve as chaplains in two secondary schools and a hospital.
Institutions of the Central Tabasco Conference
Colegio Nicanor González Mendoza has two campuses: the Usumacinta campus that offers pre-school and primary levels; and the Grijalva/Parrilla campus that offers primary, middle, and high school levels. The school teaches over 1,000 students and has a house, a semi-Olympic-size pool, an auditorium that can seat 2,000, a listening room, and a music recording studio. After many years, the Usumacinta campus is being remodeled in accordance with modern building standards.
Instituto Universitario del Sureste offers majors in nursing, accounting, and family studies.
Beginnings of Seventh-day Adventist Church in Central Tabasco Conference Territory
Among the churches of Central Tabasco is an oral tradition about a literature evangelist named John Harzman, who was traveling to Campeche and Yucatán and arrived in Tabasco in 1906. John Harzman stayed in the three states for approximately one year, during which he sold approximately 342 subscriptions to “The Messenger of Truth” and 12 subscriptions to “Health” magazine. It is uncertain how long he remained in Tabasco or exactly how many books and subscriptions he sold.
Later, other missionaries and pastors arrived and contributed to the establishment of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Tabasco. It is believed that 1925 is the most precise date we have for the launching of Adventism in Tabasco. Such is the opinion of Pastor José Castrejón G., one of the first missionary colporteurs in this place who would serve as district pastor and president of the Adventist Church in this region. Castrejón also narrated that, around 1923, an evangelical colporteur and former military man from Tlaxcala named Florentino B. Zainos found a group of Sabbath keepers, began to preach to them, and organized them into the first congregation of Adventists in Tabasco.
Although Pastor Zainos was later ousted from Tabasco in 1928 by Tomás Garrido Canaval, the dictator and governor of the state, the message had already spread to many areas of the region: Villahermosa, Huimanguillo, Teapa, Frontera, Tacotalpa, etc. According to trustworthy sources, Florentino B. Zainos can be considered the first Adventist pastor in Tabasco.
Significant Events: Organization of Church in Tabasco
In 1925, Pastor George M. Brown, president of the newly-organized Aztec Union (1923), arrived in Tabasco to organize the first Adventist church in Pigua. By 1925, the first Adventist church in the state of Tabasco was organized. In 1948, a plot of land located on February 27 Street was acquired, and the Central February 27 Church was built.
Yucatán Mission was reorganized with headquarters in Mérida. Pastor José Castrejón G. was elected the third president of the mission in 1944. The territory included the states of Tabasco, Campeche, Yucatan, and the territory of Quintana Roo. In 1948, when Pastor Enrique Westphal was union president, the following missions were changed to conferences: Central Mexican, Inter-Oceanic Mexican, South Mexican, Pacific Mexican, North Mexican, and Southeast Mexican. The union treasurer was Francisco Reyes. The offices were transferred from Mérida to Villahermosa. In four months, Central Villahermosa Church was constructed for an equivalent of $52,000 USD and financed as follows: $16,000 USD from the union; $14,000 USD from Southeast Mexican Conference; $10,000 USD from union loans; $5,000 USD from church contributions; $5,000 USD from the union churches’ contributions; and $2,500 USD from the local church for equipment.
Official Organization of Central Tabasco Conference
In 1975, Southeast Mexican Conference was organized. In 1985, it was reorganized as Tabasco Section. In 1994, it was renamed Central Tabasco Conference.
The conference’s new headquarters was inaugurated on September 21, 2009, by the governor, Dr. Andrés R. Granier Melo. The president of South Mexican Union Conference was Pastor David Javier Pérez, and the president of Central Tabasco Conference was Pastor Heber García Vázquez.
Development of Conference
Central Tabasco Conference has grown immensely. Olmeca Conference was created from Central Tabasco Conference, and Chontalpa Conference was created from Olmeca Conference. South Tabasco Conference was also created from East Tabasco Mission. Since 2012, Central Tabasco Conference has had an impressive growth in infrastructure, including the remodeling and construction of churches, and the construction of a house. In its territory, on the Parrilla campus of Colegio Nicanor González Mendoza, a semi-Olympic-sized pool, an auditorium with a seating capacity of 2,000, a listening room, and a music recording studio were constructed. Furthermore, after many years, the Usumacinta campus is being remodeled according to modern construction standards.
Future Plans for Development of Conference
In 2018, with the approval of Southeast Mexican Union Mission, the electronic registry of members was updated and revised. By March 2018, there were 23,236 members, but, given the intensive updating and revising of the registry, by the end of 2018, there were 15,163 members. As of July 4, 2019, 15,906 members are registered.
Central Tabasco Conference sees the needs to focus on membership retention and to teach wholesome doctrines as challenges. The church is faithful, enthusiastic, passionate, and committed, which can be observed in the over 960 small groups and over 2,800 missionary couples who, day after day, preach the Gospel and the message of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming.
As a conference, it is important to reach the following goals:
have the majority of members involved in the mission,
unite all church department work to achieve integrated growth,
have all members belong to small groups and conduct evangelism,
attract more missionary couples to spread the Gospel, and
educate church members’ children in Adventist schools.
List of Presidents
José Castrejón G. (1949); Cleofas Valenzuela (1949-1953); Javier Ponce (1954); José Corral (1955); Marcos de León (1956-1961); José Esteban León (1964); Velino Salazar E. (1965-1970); Francisco Argüelles M. (1970-1974); Israel Guízar V. (1974-1979); Armando Miranda Conchos (1979-1982); Agustín Galicia M. (1982-1985); Sergio Balboa (1985-1990); David Pacheco Cocom (1990-1991); José Manuel Balboa S. (1991-1994); David Javier Pérez (1994-1996); Julián Gómez M. (1996-2001); Erwin González Esteban (2001); Heber García Vázquez (2001-2012); Benjamín Vargas Bethancourt (2012-2017); Camilo Sánchez Montiel (2017-).
Castrejón, José. Brief Notations on the History of the Adventist Church in Tabasco.
Central Tabasco Conference minutes, 1949-2017.
Cortes, Félix A. Suspenso al Filo del Agua!: Biografía Anecdótica del pastor José Castrejón G. Reynosa, Tamaulipas, México: Instituto de Liderazgo y Desarrollo Empresarial, 1999.
Salazar Escarpulli, Velino. Cien años de Adventismo en México. Montemorelos, Nuevo León, México: Centro de Producción Unión Mexicana del Norte, 1997.
Statistical Records and Meeting Minutes. Central Tabasco Conference archives, Villahermosa, Tabaco, Mexico.