Paracentral El Salvador Conference is a part of El Salvador Union Mission in the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.
Territory and Statistics
The current territory of Paracentral El Salvador Conference consists of the districts of San Vicente, Cabañas, Cuscatlán, and La Paz. It has 154 churches and 34,804 members in a population of 690,796.1
Origin of Adventist Work in Conference Territory
In 1916 the first church in the republic of El Salvador was organized in the city of San Salvador. The next year the second church was organized in the city of Santa Ana.2 In 1919 the third church in the territory was organized in the city of Cojutepeque.3 Thus, the preaching of the Adventist message began in the central area of the country.
In El Paraíso, a municipality of San Pedro Perulapán in the district of Cuscatlán that is a part of the current conference, the school of La Loma was inaugurated as the first institution of the Adventist Church in El Salvador. It included an educational facility, a clinic, and a healthy living center. The school began operation in May 1924.4
In 1925 the Adventist message arrived in San Vicente through two missionaries. The first was a colporteur, Pedro Larra, who gave the message to two young brothers, Adam and Juan Rivas. They had the opportunity of teaching the gospel to the Hasbun family, one of the wealthiest families in the city.5 This family had arrived from Palestine years earlier and had become prosperous business people. Their conversion to the church was of great benefit, and George M. Hasbun would eventually become the secretary-treasurer of Salvador Mission.6 By 1927 a congregation with 28 members existed in the city of San Vicente.7 The second missionary who came to preach the gospel in San Vicente in 1927 was Miguel Rodríguez, a retired colonel from the El Salvador army.8
The gospel arrived in Zacatecoluca, El Salvador, via correspondence courses, which showed results: “Fifteen graduation certificates were awarded to students who had finished one or more of the Bible Correspondence courses in Spanish.… Elder and Mrs. Orley Ford have been following up the interest with an evangelistic effort in Zacatecoluca…. Elder Ford says he is quite sure that at least 15 souls will be ready for baptism soon.”9 Elvira de Rodríguez, a Bible worker, and her daughter brought the message to the town of Santa Cruz Analquito, Cuscatlán, in 1954. “As a result…, she was able to raise up a Sabbath school. Four have been baptized there and more are preparing for baptism.”10
Events that Led to Conference Organization
At the East El Salvador Mission yearend session held in San Miguel on November 26, 2003, the board of directors voted to organize a Paracentral Experimental Mission (PEM). They reorganized East El Salvador Mission into two local fields, with East El Salvador Mission as the parent field and PEM as the new field.11
By 2003 East El Salvador Mission had a membership of 60,608 distributed among 172 churches and 37 organized groups, ten schools offering basic education, and two schools offering mid-level education. The mission was organized into 35 districts led by 35 pastors. The new local field, PEM, was organized into four main districts: Cuscatlán, La Paz, San Vicente, and Cabañas. It covers the territory from the municipality of San Martín, Cojutepeque, to the east edge of San Vicente. PEM was organized with 23,177 members, 65 churches, and 18 organized groups.12
Before PEM was organized, the territory in which it would function had only 11 districts. Upon its organization, more pastors were added to tend to the growing needs of the membership, the challenges of the districts, and the goals that were being proposed. The new field was organized into 14 districts, and all steps were completed by the end of 2003 so that, on January 1, 2004, PEM began operations with Pastor Abel Pacheco as its coordinator.13
In 2007 the experimental mission became Paracentral El Salvador Mission. It had 85 organized churches and a membership of 34,694. Pastor Juan Carlos Durán was named president with Rene A. Romero as secretary-treasurer.14 By 2010 the number of churches had grown to 105.15 By 2011 the membership had grown to 38,166.16 By 2015 it had 119 organized churches in its territory.17
In 2011 Paracentral El Salvador Mission was reorganized into Paracentral El Salvador Conference with Pastor Luis Alonso Aguillón as president and Gidder Zelaya as secretary-treasurer.18 During their administration, the current headquarters building was built at Carretera Panamericana, Km 34 ½, Cojutepeque, Cuscatlán, El Salvador.19
The Conference Fulfills its Mission
On March 2, 2015, at the third quadrennial session, Santos Cañas was elected president with Gidder Zelaya as secretary-treasurer.20 A year later, Julio Alberto Cruz Flores was appointed secretary and Gidder Zelaya remained as treasurer.21
The conference administrators, leaders, and pastors of Paracentral El Salvador Conference, which as of 2020 had 16 districts, continue to work on a daily basis to preach the Adventist message.
List of Presidents
Abel Pacheco López (2003-2007); Juan Carlos Durán (2007-2010); Luis Alonso Aguillón (2011-2013); Santos Cañas (2014-present).
“Aztec Union Mission.” The Inter-American Messenger, May 1, 1924.
Castro, Abdías, et al. “Inicio de la Obra Adventista en El Salvador.” White Research Center UNADECA. April 19, 2014. Accessed June 12, 2019. https://unadeca.net/cwhite/2014/09/19/salvador/.
East El Salvador Mission Reorganization Project. November 26, 2003. Secretariat archives, San Miguel, El Salvador.
East El Salvador Mission Year-end Session minutes. November 26, 2003. 090-03. Secretariat archives, San Miguel, El Salvador.
Ford, Orley. “Onward in El Salvador.” The Inter-American Messenger, March 1, 1954.
Howard, Ellis P. “How the Message Entered San Vicente, Salvador: The Place so Recently Visited by the Earthquake.” The Inter-American Messenger, March 15, 1937.
“Northern Latin American Missions: Salvador.” General Conference Bulletin: Thirty-Ninth Session, April 15, 1918.
Paracentral El Salvador Conference Quadrennial Session minutes. March 2, 2015. Secretariat archives, Cuscatlán, San Salvador.
Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.
Staben, C. F., and wife. “From Brother and Sister Staben.” Southwestern Union Record, August 26, 1919.
Walde, Elmer R. “VOP Graduation Service in El Salvador.” ARH, December 10, 1959.
Wood, C. E. “Sabbath Keepers from Bethlehem.” ARH, September 8, 1927.
“Paracentral El Salvador Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, accessed February 2, 2021, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity/EntityID=31788.↩
“Northern Latin American Missions: Salvador,” General Conference Bulletin: Thirty-Ninth Session, April 15, 1918, 203-204.↩
C. F. Staben and wife, “From Brother and Sister Staben,” Southwestern Union Record, August 26, 1919, 7.↩
“Aztec Union Mission,” The Inter-American Messenger, vol. 1, no. 2, May 1, 1924, 4.↩
Ellis P. Howard, “How the Message Entered San Vicente, Salvador: The Place so Recently Visited by the Earthquake,” The Inter-American Messenger, March 15, 1937, 4-5.↩
“Salvador Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1929), 255.↩
C. E. Wood, “Sabbath Keepers from Bethlehem,” ARH, September 8, 1927, 2.↩
Abdías Castro, Rafael García, Julio Marroquín, and Kelvin Merino, “Inicio de la Obra Adventista en El Salvador,” White Research Center UNADECA, April 19, 2014, accessed June 12, 2019, https://unadeca.net/cwhite/2014/09/19/salvador/.↩
Elmer R. Walde, “VOP Graduation Service in El Salvador,” ARH, December 10, 1959, 32.↩
Orley Ford, “Onward in El Salvador,” The Inter-American Messenger, March 1, 1954, 10-11.↩
East El Salvador Mission Year-end Session, November 26, 2003, 090-03, secretariat archives.↩
East El Salvador Mission Reorganization Project, November 26, 2003, secretariat archives.↩
Abel Pacheco López, interview by author, San Salvador, El Salvador, June 6, 2019.↩
“Paracentral El Salvador Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2009), 141.↩
“Paracentral El Salvador Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2010), 142.↩
“Paracentral El Salvador Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2011), 151.↩
“Paracentral El Salvador Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2015), 118.↩
“Paracentral El Salvador Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2012), 136.↩
Luis Alonso Aguillón, interview by the author, San Salvador, El Salvador, June 8, 2019.↩
Paracentral El Salvador Conference Quadrennial Session, March 2, 2015, San Salvador, secretariat archives.↩
“Paracentral El Salvador Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2016), 125.↩