Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission headquarters.

Photo courtesy of Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission.

Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission

By Jhon Jairo Gómez

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Jhon Jairo Gómez Montes, B.Th. (Corporación Universitaria Adventista Colombia, Medellín, Colombia), is a district pastor in Northwestern Bogotá and Boyacá Mission. He has served as a district pastor for six years. He is married to Yessyka Paola Criollo.

First Published: May 15, 2021

Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission is a part of South Colombian Union Conference in the Inter-American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.

Territory and Statistics

Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission has as its territory the northwest sector of the city of Bogotá in Cundinamarca, the western provinces of the department of Cundinamarca, and the departments of Boyacá and Vaupes.1

As of 2020, it had 48 churches and 6,697 members in a population of 1,583,026. Its offices are located at Transversal 79, No 83-62, Bogotá, D.C., Colombia.2 The mission also had two licensed ministers and eight ordained ministers.

Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission has one school–Sogamoso Comercial Adventist Secondary School, which is located at Carrera 15, No. 16-30 in Sogamoso, Boyacá.3 It has 15 staff members and 175 students in education levels from pre-elementary through 11th grade.

Origins of Adventist Work in Territory of Bogota

Frank C. Kelley arrived in Colombia to work as a photographer and English teacher in the late 1890s. As a self-supporting missionary, he was also determined to introduce Adventism in Colombia. Due to his wife falling ill, they only stayed in the country for three years before he had to return to his own country. There was no one to continue Kelley’s pioneering work following his departure for the next two decades, so his labor did not bear fruit.4 Kelley’s effort was the first attempt to preach the Adventist message in Colombia.

In the early 1900s, B. E. Connerly volunteered to serve as a missionary to attempt to “break the proverbial ice in Colombia” through publications. In 1915, he and his family moved to Barranquilla to continue spreading Adventism through magazines and books. Then, in 1916, they moved to Medellín to continue the work. In Medellín, he wrote: “This is the most delightful and the hardest field in which I have ever worked.”5

G. A. Schwerin picked up Connerly’s unfinished work in 1917, but by the time Trummer first visited Colombia, L. V. Cleaves had replaced Schwerin and taken charge of book sales. For Trummer…, this tour was the spark that reignited an old fire. Less than two years later, when he transferred to Bogotá, he implemented once again his expertise as a canvasser to prepare Colombia for active evangelism. It was during his years of service that the Adventist church in this republic had its real beginning.6

In 1921, E. Max Trummer arrived in Bogotá to strengthen the missionary work of the past, and the Kelley and Cleaves families were contacted to join forces in preaching the Gospel in the capital of Colombia. They decided to lease a place on Carrera 9 and Calle 14. On July 30, 1921, they met to organize the first Adventist church in Bogotá. Their faith was shared through the works of canvassing and preaching the Gospel. In 1923, the first Adventist believer from the capital was baptized.7 The preaching and colporteur work of these pioneers continued planting the seed of evangelism and led to a thriving SDA church in the capital.

Establishment of an Adventist Church in Suba, Bogota

The Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día Bethel in the town of Suba had its beginnings in the early 1970s. During this time, Pastor Alfredo Aeschlimann, ministerial and health departmental secretary of the Inter-American Division, was invited to lead an evangelistic conference in Suba, Bogotá. As a result of this conference, six families began to gather in a house on Calle 125, at the corner of Carrera 93, that the Caicedo family was renting. The group met for two years; after that, the brethren transferred to the Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día Sarón.

In 1978, the group once again began meeting in Sister Forigua’s home under the direction of Brother Leopoldo Hernández. This gave initial establishment to the Iglesia Adventista del Séptimo Día Bethel, which is still in operation.8 From this initial effort, many churches in the northwestern territory of Bogotá have been established.

Origins of Adventist Work in Territory of Boyaca

The Adventist message arrived in Boyacá in the 1950s. Somehow, a copy of The Great Controversy was given to a non-Adventist lawyer named Camargo Angulo of the municipality of Monguí, who in turn gave it to a man by the name of Gabriel Gómez.9 Gabriel shared his new knowledge with his workers and some acquaintances of the municipality of Sogamoso in central-eastern Boyacá. This resulted in five families from a nearby Christian community meeting and accepting the Sabbath truth.10 They became the first Adventist believers in the municipality. Many believers and missionaries at heart supported the strengthening of the work in Sogamoso. Among these were Pastor Luis Florez Quiñonez, who canvassed in the area; Brother Patrocinio Puerto from Santander; Juan Soliz; Brother Ariza, a colporteur; and Pastor Manuel Martínez.

By the mid-1950s, the first Adventist church in Sogamoso was established and named La Villita.11 This church became the Adventist center in Boyacá and its surroundings. In the 1960s, the Adventists of La Villita used the motto, “Either we all become local missionaries or we are no good as Adventists.” Therefore, they formed a special group of lay missionaries to spread the Gospel to nearby towns and municipalities. Among the places in Boyacá that they visited were Suse in Aquitania, Monguí, Miraflores, Duitama, Paipa, Toca, and Tunja, which is the capital of Boyacá. Other towns and municipalities they introduced the Adventist message to include Yopal, Paz de Ariporo, Aguazul, and Monterrey in Casanare; Tame in Arauca; and Barbosa in Santander.12

In the 1960s, the message arrived in the Tenza Valley in the southeast region of Boyacá. Brother Marco Tulio Gómez from the central church in Bogotá joined a small group of believers from Guateque. This group had been formed by the Perilla and Vargas families and had begun to study the Bible on their own.13 Currently, an Adventist presence exists in the municipalities of Manta, Machetá, Guateque, Garagoa, and Guayatá in the Tenza Valley region.

Events Leading to Organization of Mission

The Colombian Mission was organized in 1922 with Pastor Ernest Max Trummer as its president. Its main offices were located at Apartado 599, Bogotá, in the Republic of Colombia. Its executive board members were E. M. Trummer, L. V. Cleaves, Fred Brower, F. C. Kelley, and Antonio Redondo.14 In 1926, it was reorganized into Antioqueña Mission, Atlantic Colombia Mission, Central Colombia Mission, and Pacific Colombia Mission. Central Colombia Mission included Boyacá in its territory and had its offices located in Bogotá. Its president was G. C. Nickle, and its field secretary was F. A. Brower.15

In 1927, Central Colombia Mission ceded part of its territory (the provinces of Santander and North Santander) to Antioqueña Mission. In that same year, Pacific Colombia Mission was dissolved, and its territory (the provinces of Putumayo, Chocó, Cauca Valley, Cauca, and Nariño) was added to Central Colombia Mission, whose main offices were then moved from Bogotá to Cali.16 In 1929, Central Colombia Mission ceded part of its territory (Caqueta, Putumayo, Cauca Valley, Cauca, and Nariño) to help reestablish the Pacific Colombia Mission. At this time, the main offices of Central Colombia Mission were moved back to Bogotá.17

The name of the “Antioqueña Mission” changed to “Antioquia Mission” in 1929 and again to “Central Colombia Mission” in 1930. Because of this, the original Central Colombia Mission had its name changed to “Upper Magdalena Mission.”18 In 1938, Upper Magdalena Mission added the territory of Arauca to its territory.19 In 1939, it ceded the territories of Caquetá and Amazonas to Pacific Colombia Mission.20

In 1941, the territory of the Colombian missions was reorganized: Central Colombia Mission was dissolved, leaving the three missions of Upper Magdalena Mission, which gained the territory of Santander and most of North Santander; Pacific Colombia Mission, which gained that of Antioquia; and Atlantic Colombia Mission, which gained the remainder of the territory of North Santander.21 These territories remained almost the same until 1985 when the Pacific Colombia Mission and the Upper Magdalena Mission had a change in status and had become conferences.

In 1985, Upper Magdalena Conference ceded the territories of Arauca, North Santander, Santander, the northeast section of Boyacá, and the east section of Casanare in Vichada. Along with Guainia, these ceded territories created a new field named Colombian East Mission. Upper Magdalena Conference remained with the territories of Amazonas, Boyacá, Caqueta, Casanare, Cundinamarca, Huila, Meta, Putumayo, Tolima, and Vaupes.22 In 2006, Upper Magdalena Conference ceded the provinces of Caqueta, Huila, and Tolima as well as portions of Boyacá, Caldas, Cundinamarca, and Putumayo to create the South Colombian Mission.23 In 2009, Upper Magdalena Conference ceded all its territory to become Colombian Llanos and Boyacá Mission. The city of Bogotá became the territory of the Upper Magdalena Conference.24

In 2012, under the presidency of Pastor Eliseo Bustamante of South Colombian Union Mission, it was evident that evangelization needed to happen in Suba and Engativá in the northwest side of the city of Bogotá. At the same time, it was important to give attention to the brethren in the department of Boyacá, which then belonged to East Los Llanos and Boyacá Mission.25 Therefore, South Colombian Union Mission requested that the Inter-American Division create the experimental Northwestern Region of Bogotá and Boyacá with five districts from Bogotá and three from Boyacá, and this request was approved.

In the autumn of 2016, the South Colombian Union Mission board of directors requested that the Inter-American Division change the status of the experimental region into a mission.26 The Northwestern Bogotá and Boyacá Mission was established soon after. Its territory included the northwestern sector of the city of Bogotá, the western province of Cundinamarca, and the departments of Boyacá and Vaupes. Its president was Yury Leon Duarte with Luis Alfredo Castellanos as secretary-treasurer.27

Fulfilling its Mission

Northwestern Bogotá and Boyacá Mission fulfills its mission through the discipleship process focused on three main goals. Through communion, it is expected that each disciple study the Bible and pray every day. Through relationship, it is expected that each disciple belongs to and lives in a relationship in unity of action in the Sabbath School program and in a small group during the week. Through mission, it is expected that each disciple shares his or her faith through a Bible course along with a discipleship partner.28

The goal is to involve all its members in preaching the Adventist message. Implementing their plan of communion, relationship, and mission, Northwestern Bogotá and Boyacá Mission seeks to motivate, organize, and equip the brethren to share the message throughout its territory.

Recent Accomplishments

Since its establishment, Northwestern Bogotá and Boyacá Mission has focused on acquiring properties, constructing and remodeling church buildings, entering territories with no Adventist presence, and improving conditions for existing congregations. This united work effort has been made possible through support of the local church, fulfilling the mission’s development plan, contributions from the world church through the South Colombian Union Mission and the Inter-American Division, and donations from people and institutions of the Adventist Church. As of 2019, the mission has utilized a total of $866,312 USD in supporting 10 congregations of the department of Boyacá, supporting five congregations of the city of Bogotá, remodeling the offices of the mission in Bogotá, and acquiring an apartment in the city of Duitama, Boyacá, which is used as a pastoral home.29

Northwestern Bogotá and Boyacá Mission’s administration team, group of pastors, and brethren join forces to bring the Adventist message to every corner of its territory. Each year, they enter new urban and rural territories to establish new congregations and churches.

Challenges

The high costs of land in the city of Bogotá and the government’s territorial plan preventing the construction of church buildings in certain places both present challenges to the task of establishing new congregations where there is still no Adventist presence.

The missionary commitment that has occurred in the mission’s territory throughout its history has been through the grace of God, its pastoral leadership, and the commitment of each faithful and selfless church member to preach the Gospel. Continuing to trust God’s direction, church members are equipped and sent to fulfill the task entrusted to them. This will guarantee victory in Jesus Christ.

List of Presidents

Yury León Duarte (2016-2018); Hernán Darío Mera (2019- ).

Sources

Greenleaf, Floyd. The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, vol. 1. Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1992.

Samuel Viana, Yerko. “History of Adventism in Bogotá: 1921-2011.” Unpublished document. Accessed 2018, Upper Magdalena Conference communications department archives, Bogotá, Colombia.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Various years. https://www.adventistyearbook.org/.

Schwarz, Richard W., and Floyd Greenleaf. Light Bearers. Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2000.

South Colombian Union Mission Board of Directors minutes. October 12, 2016. 009. Secretariat archives, Bogotá, Colombia.

Notes

  1. “Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, accessed May 18, 2021, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=54045.

  2. Ibid.

  3. “Sogamoso Comercial Adventist Secondary School,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook, accessed July 15, 2019, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=53275.

  4. Richard W. Schwarz and Floyd Greenleaf, Light Bearers (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2000), 220.

  5. Floyd Greenleaf, The Seventh-day Adventist Church in Latin America and the Caribbean, vol. 1 (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1992), 173-174.

  6. Ibid.

  7. Yerko Samuel Viana, “History of Adventism in Bogotá: 1921-2011,” unpublished document, 27-28, accessed 2018, Upper Magdalena Conference communications department archives.

  8. Ibid., 71.

  9. Luis Francisco Florez Salamanca, current member of Central Sogamoso Adventist Church, telephone interview by author, August 8, 2019.

  10. Isaiah Medina, current member of Central Sogamoso Adventist Church, telephone interview by author, August 7, 2019.

  11. Abdón Gutiérrez, current member of Maranatha Adventist Church in Sogamoso, telephone interview by author, August 6, 2019.

  12. Isaiah Medina, current member of Central Sogamoso Adventist Church, telephone interview by author, August 7, 2019.

  13. Edelmira de Moreno, telephone interview by author, August 5, 2019.

  14. “Colombian Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1923), 176.

  15. “Colombia Missions,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1927), 228-229.

  16. “Central Colombia Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1928), 246.

  17. “Central Colombia Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1930), 197.

  18. “Upper Magdalena Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1931), 206.

  19. “Upper Magdalena Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1939), 153.

  20. “Pacific Colombia Mission” and “Upper Magdalena Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Takoma Park, Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1940), 154.

  21. “Colombia-Venezuela Union Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1942), 116.

  22. “Colombian East Mission” and “Upper Magdalena Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1986), 163, 165.

  23. “South Colombian Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2007), 118.

  24. “Colombian Llanos and Boyaca Mission” and “Upper Magdalena Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Hagerstown, MD: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 2010), 121, 123.

  25. Álvaro Niño Escobar, secretary of South Colombian Union Conference, virtual interview by author, April 15, 2019.

  26. South Colombian Union Mission Board of Directors, October 12, 2016, 009, secretariat archives.

  27. “Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Nampa, ID: Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2018), 138.

  28. Daber Bedoya, Northwestern Bogotá and Boyacá Mission secretary, virtual interview by author, July 25, 2019.

  29. Luis Alfredo Castellanos, Northwestern Bogotá and Boyacá Mission treasurer, email messages to author, accessed 2019.

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Gómez, Jhon Jairo. "Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. May 15, 2021. Accessed June 17, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BG3F.

Gómez, Jhon Jairo. "Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. May 15, 2021. Date of access June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BG3F.

Gómez, Jhon Jairo (2021, May 15). Northwestern Bogota and Boyaca Mission. Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved June 17, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BG3F.