Bajio Mexican Conference, located in the Central Mexican Union Mission, is part of Inter-American Division of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Its territory is made up of the states of Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Querétaro, and Michoacán. It also includes the city of Leon, Guanajuato, with a population of over 1,400,000 and the state of Querétaro with a population of over two million.1 The Bajio region is a geographic, historic, economic, cultural region located north of the Lerma River in central Mexico. The Bajío has a distinguished historic and cultural legacy and includes three World Heritage Sites in the cities of Guanajuato, Santiago de Querétaro (Querétaro City), and San Miguel de Allende.2 The architectural and cultural treasures of its colonial cities make it the third tourist destination in the nation after Quintana Roo, specifically for Cancún and the Riviera Maya, and Mexico City.
The Bajío is also famous as la Cuna de la Independencia, or “the Cradle of Independence,” from Spain. Important historic events took place in the cities of Dolores Hidalgo and San Miguel de Allende in Guanajuato and in the city of Santiago de Querétaro, Querétaro. The Bajío possesses a great sense of Mexican history and tradition. It is also one of the strongest bastions of conservative Catholicism; religion still has a powerful influence on the way of life in the region.3
Bajío Mexican Conference has 67 churches, 46 organized companies, 44 subsidiaries, and 12,543 members out of an estimated population of 13,402,428. Bajío Mexican Conference’s headquarters is located at Calle Dique No 226, Fracc. Jardines del Moral, León, Guanajuato, 37160.4
The Julia García Retana Institute located in the city of León, Guanajuato, offers preschool, primary, middle school, and high school education. In 2019, it had 315 students and 21 teachers and other staff members.
Origins of Adventist Work in Conference Territory
The Adventist work in the Bajío region began in the 1960s. Pastor Celerino Herrera was commissioned to give Bible studies to Julia García Retana in León, Guanajuato. She had responded to an advertisement for “Voice of Hope” lessons in a newspaper someone had used to wrap a kilo of rice she had purchased. The first families in this region to accept the message of the Seventh-day Adventist Church were the García family, the Gutiérrez family, the Martínez family, and the Ambriz family.5 From there, the message spread to several cities in Guanajuato and Aguascalientes. In 1963, missionaries were sent to start work in Querétaro City. Today, three pastoral districts exist in the state of Querétaro.
Also in the 1960s, the Adventist message arrived in the state of Michoacán, specifically in the area of Patámbaro and Laurelitos and in Morelia, the state capital. The Adventist church advanced further in the state of Michoacán than in the other three states that currently comprise Bajío Mexican Conference. Of the conference’s 20 districts, eight are in the state of Michoacán.6
On February 17, 1893, the General Conference voted to send a group of missionaries to Mexico to establish a mission there. President O. A. Olsen said, “We recommend that definite measures be taken to begin work soon.”7 That same year, Pastor D. T. Jones was commissioned to travel to Mexico to search for a city that fulfilled the necessary conditions to establish headquarters for a mission station. The city he found was Guadalajara.
On May 1, 1894, Pastor Jones informed the General Conference that the Mexican Mission was established. From 1894-1902, Guadalajara was the location of Mexican Mission’s headquarters. In 1926, Guadalajara became the location of the headquarters of Misión de Occidente (West Mexican Mission). The next year, its name changed to Misión del Lago (Lake Mission). This church unit continued until 1939.
In 1974, the Mexican Union Mission committee voted to recommend to the Inter-American Division the creation of Misión de Occidente (West Mexican Mission). This new field would be formed from parts of the Central, North, and Pacific Mexican Missions and would include the states of Jalisco, Nayarit, Colima, Zacatecas, Michoacán, Querétaro, Aguascalientes, and Guanajuato.8 After years of hard work, in November 2003, during North Mexican Union Mission’s year-end plenary session, a territorial adjustment of West Mexican Mission was authorized. This was done to create Bajío Mexican Mission, which would operate as an experimental field starting in January 2004 until it would be duly approved as a mission by the Inter-American Division.9
Bajío Mexican Mission began with 24 organized churches, 44 congregations, 12 districts, 13 pastors, and two schools. In 2019, Bajío Mexican Conference had 20 districts, 24 pastors including administrators and departmental leaders, and Julia García Retana Institute with 21 teachers.10
Mission and Strategic Plans
According to Bajío Mexican Conference’s Mission Statement, the conference seeks:
Spiritual renewal, ensuring that pastors and church members are led by the Holy Spirit.
Leadership that prepares, transforms, and empowers members to face challenges while waiting for Jesus’s second coming.
To witness and make disciples through impact events in big cities, sharing the Adventist message, and adding more members.
Faithfulness in all aspects and promoting a Personal Giving plan.
To grow and consolidate conference territory through well-defined plans to increase the number of churches, districts, and pastors who care for the churches.
Challenges Bajío Mexican Conference Faces
Insecurity: the lack of safety in the public in its territory
Religious fanaticism; this is the most Catholic area of Mexico
Dissident groups drawing away Adventist members
Difficulties in establishing relations with the government that would facilitate mission fulfillment
An evangelistic campaign conducted by theology students from the University of Montemorelos that impacted all 20 districts of the conference
An evangelistic caravan in the cities of León, Querétaro, Morelia, and Aguascalientes led by 10 preachers from North Mexican Union Mission, resulting in 110 people’s baptism.
A Holy Convocation, where 84 preachers were assigned throughout the conference territory, thus reaching over 8,000 members and consolidating leadership and faithfulness
List of Presidents
José Javier Sol Martínez (2004-2006); Miguel Alemán Guizar (2006-2016); Jaime Medrano Zamorano (2016- ).
“10 ciudades mexicanas patrimonio de la humanidad.” About: Español. Accessed 2019. https://www.aboutespanol.com/10-ciudades-mexicanas-patrimonio-de-la-humanidad-1187527.
Álvarez, Pablo Serrano. “El sinarquismo en el Bajío Mexicano, 1934-1951. Historia de un movimiento social regional.” Estudios de historia moderna y contemporánea de México. Accessed 2019. http://www.historicas.unam.mx/moderna/ehmc/ehmc14/187.html.
“Bajío, el nuevo milagro mexicano.” T21mx. Accessed 2019. http://t21.com.mx/opinion/bitacora/2013/08/16/bajio-nuevo-milagro-mexicano.
Bajío Mexican Conference. In-house evaluation for restructuring the field. 2. Bajío Mexican Conference president archives.
Bajío Mexican Conference secretariat archives. Accessed 2019.
“Bajío.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bajío.
Salazar Escarpulli, Velino. Cien años de Adventismo en México. Montemorelos, Nuevo León, México: Centro de Producción Unión Mexicana del Norte, 1997.
North Mexican Union Mission year-end meeting minutes. November 19, 2003. 366. North Mexican Union Mission archives.
“Querétaro.” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. Accessed 2020. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Querétaro.
Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2018.
“Bajío,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, accessed 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bajío; and “Querétaro,” Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, accessed 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Querétaro.↩
“Bajío, el nuevo milagro mexicano,” T21mx, accessed 2019, http://t21.com.mx/opinion/bitacora/2013/08/16/bajio-nuevo-milagro-mexicano; and “10 ciudades mexicanas patrimonio de la humanidad,” About: Español, accessed 2019, https://www.aboutespanol.com/10-ciudades-mexicanas-patrimonio-de-la-humanidad-1187527.↩
Pablo Serrano Álvarez, “El sinarquismo en el Bajío Mexicano, 1934-1951. Historia de un movimiento social regional,” Estudios de historia moderna y contemporánea de México, accessed 2019, http://www.historicas.unam.mx/moderna/ehmc/ehmc14/187.html.↩
Bajío Mexican Conference secretariat archives, accessed 2019; and Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, Idaho: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2018), accessed 2019, http://documents.adventistarchives.org/Yearbooks/YB2018.pdf.↩
Martinez Juan Miguel, interview by author, March 2019.↩
López Oberón, interview by author, May 2019; and Bajío Mexican Conference secretariat archives, accessed 2019.↩
Velino Salazar Escarpulli, Cien años de Adventismo en México (Montemorelos, Nuevo León, México: Centro de Producción Unión Mexicana del Norte, 1977), 22.↩
Bajío Mexican Conference, in-house evaluation for restructuring the field, 2, Bajío Mexican Conference president archives.↩
North Mexican Union Mission year-end meeting, November 19, 2003, 366, North Mexican Union Mission archives.↩
Bajío Mexican Conference secretariat archives, accessed 2019.↩