Northeast Venezuela Mission is part of the East Venezuela Union Mission of the Inter-American Division. The territory is bordered on the north by the Caribbean Sea and the Isla de Margarita; on the south by Bolíviar State; on the east by Monagas State; and on the west by Sucre State with its capital Cumaná and municipalities of Mariguitar, Araya, San Antonio del Golfo, Montes, and Rivero (Cariaco).1
On January 1, 2015, when the mission territory organized, it had an Adventist membership of 12,538, distributed in three zones, nine districts, 57 churches, and 38 groups for a total of 95 congregations. Seven ordained pastors and two other ministers directly served the needs of the churches. The mission headquarters was initially located in the city of Puerto la Cruz of Sotillo Municipality, in the commercial center of Latinia, Suite Number 1.2
As of January 1, 2019, church administration restructured the mission and added the municipalities of Andrés Eloy (Casanay) and Rivero (Cariaco) to the East Venezuela Conference while the municipalities of Anaco and Aragua de Barcelona became part of the Northeast Venezuela Mission.3
On November 27, 1975, Educational Unit Rafael Urdaneta opened its doors with the first to third grades and an enrollment of seven students. At present, it offers classes up through the seventh grade. To date the institution has conducted 23 graduations.4 The school is located in Ciudad de Barcelona, Bolívar Municipality of Anzoátegui State, at the community of Rafael Urdaneta, Palotal sector, next to the Adventist church building. The school resulted through the initiative of Pastor José Castillo and his wife Esther at a meeting held by teachers and members of the central church of Barcelona interested in Christian education. The school sits on a General Conference of SDA property. It received the permit and registration from the Ministerio de Educación under Resolution 12,884, during the 1975-1976 school year.5
Northeast Venezuela Mission owns various radio stations that emerged from the hard work of pastors and church members. They are:
Centinela 88.5 FM, located in Ciudad de Barcelona, Bolívar Municipality of Anzoátegui State, at the community of Rafael Urdaneta, Palotal sector, next to the Adventist Church building. Enrique Omaña serves as director and Eliadis Fermín as its founding pastor.6
Éxodo 90.1 FM, located in Ciudad de Cumaná, Sucre Municipality of Sucre State in the pastor’s office of the Seventh-day Adventist church building, went on air in July 2008.7
Alfa 107.3 FM, located in Ciudad de Anaco, Anaco municipality of the Anzoátegui State in the pastor’s office of the Seventh-day Adventist church building, first broadcast during October 2006.8
Origins of the Church in the Northeast Venezuela Mission Territory
In 1960, Pastor H. Borh arrived in Nueva Esparta State on Margarita Island. He started visiting and giving Bible studies, and in 1963, conducted a baptismal service, baptizing Jesús Antonio Peinado, Elestina de Peinado, Virgilio Mata, and Emma. Those first believers constituted the first nucleus of what would be the Adventist Church in the territory. The small group worshipped in a rented space in the Bella Vista Porlamar sector.9
In Anzoátegui State, Elena Blanco was one of the first missionaries to proclaim the Adventist message there, selling Christian and other books. In 1946 in Barcelona, she met and gave Bible studies to Rosa de Maza; Ana de Mendoza, who was the city’s mid-wife; and Celestino Conde. The first worship place was at Rosa de Maza’s home. In 1954, Rufino Serapio Arismendi, who was pastoring in Carúpano City, baptized them. They became the first Adventists in the sector. The majority of the churches in the east of the country were established in the 1960s in the city of Barcelona, Anzoátegui State, under the East Venezuela Conference which at that time had its headquarters in the capital city of Caracas.10
Formative Events that Led to the Organization of Northeast Venezuela Mission
On January 1, 2015, the territory ceased to be part of East Venezuela Conference, located in Maturín, and became part of the Northeast Venezuela Region, located in Puerto La Cruz, Sotillo municipality of Anzoátegui State. The East Venezuela Union Mission administration, directed by Josney Rodríguez (president), Benirde Almerida (secretary), and Pablo Carreño (treasurer) proposed during an administrative board meeting to create a new field so as to better care for church members and to expand evangelism in the area.11 It was the beginning of a new organizational structure directed by Eliadis Fermín (president), Elder Rubio (secretary), and Edgar Gómez (treasurer).
On May 25, 2016, at the first field quadrennial session, leaders added a new East Venezuela Union Mission territory arrangement.12 It included Nueva Esparta, west of Sucre, and north of the Anzoátegui states. The East Venezuela Union Mission appointed the following administrative team: Aurelio Rubio Eslava (president), David Alberto Manrique (secretary), and Juan Carlos Ortiz Padrón (treasurer).13
Northeast Venezuela Mission Seeks to Fulfill Its Mission
The new field with its administration, pastors, and church members has strengthened the church work in the region through:
Intensifying the sense of mission through leadership training for its leaders every month. Elders, small group leaders, deaconesses, and above all the ministerial staff receive the attention and necessary training to evangelize the area in a more effective way.
Fortifying its finances to sustain the demands for organizational maintenance and the preaching of the gospel. The mission stresses faithfulness to God when training treasurers and stewardship directors to provide weeks of stewardship emphasis in the small groups and congregations.
Helping 75 percent of active members develop a personal relationship with God and to give evidence of their spiritual growth in their daily experience through Bible studies, prayer, testifying, vigils, fasting days, and spiritual retreats, among other ways.
Recent Events the Mission Has Experienced
The Northeast Venezuela Mission bought a property on October 2018 in Barcelona City, Bolívar Municipality, Anzoátegui State, for its headquarters.14
During a recent epidemic caused by contaminated water, the mission through its Adventist churches with ADRA’s support provided drinking water to the most affected communities.
The recent lack of public transportation has affected the Northeast Venezuela Mission, preventing members from visiting community families and giving Bible studies. The migration of church members and leaders has increased in recent years, and as a result, congregations and field income have declined, while some churches need infrastructure improvements. Unity and strengthening of support groups has increased in small groups and thus in congregations. Several churches provide lunch to members every Sabbath, as well as to friends and visitors that attend church services.
Northeast Venezuela Mission Needs to Fulfill its Mission
There is a need to:
open churches in nine municipalities without any current Adventist presence
create a permanent assistance center with the purpose of reaching the general community
build an influence center and expand and develop the headquarter facilities.
“Gaceta Oficial.” Caracas, Tuesday, December 9, 1975, Num. 30,867.
Porlamar Adventist Church. “Libro de actas de secretaría” (Secretaries’ Minutes Book), 1963. Northeast Venezuela Mission archives, Barcelona, Anzoátegui State, Venezuela.
Northeast Venezuela Mission. Board of Directors’ Minutes, November 30, 2018. Northeast Venezuela Mission archives, Barcelona, Anzoátegui State, Venezuela.
Northeast Venezuela Mission. “First quadrennial session, historic review,” May 5, 2016. Northeast Venezuela Mission archives, Barcelona, Anzoátegui State, Venezuela.
Northeast Venezuela Mission Minutes. “Reseña histórica Unidad Educativa Rafael Urdaneta,” 2019. Northeast Venezuela Mission archives, Barcelona, Anzoátegui State, Venezuela.
“Nororiental Venezuela.” Accessed June 24, 2019, https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regi%C3%B3n_ Nororiental_(Venezuela).
“Proyecto comisión de estudio nuevo campo, marco histórico” (New field commision project study, historical framework), 3, 2014. Northeast Venezuela Mission archives, Barcelona, Anzoátegui State, Venezuela.
Simón Bolívar Municipality Public Registry, Anzoátegui State. October 11, Number. 2018 353-4701-3764.
Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook. Accessed on June 24, 2019, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=53723.
East Venezuela Union Mission Board of Directors’ Minutes, November 12, 2014. Northeast Venezuela Mission archives, Barcelona, Anzoátegui State, Venezuela.
“Nororiental Venezuela,” accessed June 24, 2019, https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Regi%C3%B3n_ Nororiental_(Venezuela).↩
Northeast Venezuela Mission, First quadrennial session, “reseña histórica”, May 5, 2016.↩
Northeast Venezuela Mission, Board of Directors Minutes, November 30, 2018.↩
Minutes, “Reseña histórica Unidad Educativa Rafael Urdaneta,” 2019.↩
“Gaceta Oficial,” Caracas, Tuesday, December 9, 1975, Number 30,867.↩
Enrique Omaña, interview by author, Barcelona, Anzoátegui State, June 23, 2019.↩
Gilberto Astudillo, interview by author, Cumaná, Sucre State, June 18, 2019.↩
Luis García, interview by author, Cumaná, Sucre State, June 14, 2019.↩
Porlamar Adventist Church, “Libro de actas de secretaría,” 1963, 1.↩
Proyecto comisión de estudio nuevo campo, marco histórico, 3, 2014.↩
Seventh-day Adventist Online Yearbook, accessed on June 24, 2019, https://www.adventistyearbook.org/entity?EntityID=53723.↩
East Venezuela Union Mission, Board of Directors’ Minutes, November 12, 2014.
Simón Bolívar Municipality Public Registry, Anzoátegui State, October 11, Number 2018 353-4701-3764.↩