A March meeting between the leaders of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INP) in Mexico City resulted in the two denominations proceeding toward a fraternal agreement for approval at each body’s General Assembly this summer.
The EPC was represented by Moderator Mike Moses, Stated Clerk Jeff Jeremiah, Fraternal Relations Committee chair Gerrit Dawson, EPC home missionary John Bueno (who served as translator), and Bill Hammill, a Ruling Elder at Lake Forest Church in Huntersville, N.C. (where Moses serves as Pastor). The INP leadership delegation included Secretary Adolfo Arias Job, President (Moderator) Amador Lopez Hernandez, Vice President Danny Ramirez Celis, Treasurer David Monroy Adane, and Camirillo Velazquez, General Director of the Juarez Institute.
Discussions about a potential ministry partnership began in October 2015, when INP Secretary Adolfo Arias Job invited Moses and others from the EPC to visit Mexico to discuss the possibility of a fraternal relationship that would focus on church planting. Specifically, INP wants to send missionaries to plant churches in Hispanic communities in the United States.
“I believe this is an historic ‘God moment’ for the EPC and INP in church planting,” Jeremiah noted. “In the providence of God, they reached out to us in the year that Mike Moses—an experienced church planter and member of the EPC Church Planting Team—was our Moderator.”
During the meetings, the members of the EPC team and INP leaders agreed that both groups were committed to the same love and passion for Christ and His gospel, and to the same Reformed doctrine.
“We were overwhelmed with the warm welcome and generous hospitality of our hosts and impressed with how easily we connected on a personal level,” Jeremiah said.
He added that the invitation to a church planting partnership is unique in that it encompassed two of the EPC’s strategic initiatives—global movement in addition to multiplication.
“An element of global movement includes exploring partnerships with groups in the global church with the same values and commitments as the EPC,” Jeremiah said. “The leaders of INP don’t want to work independently; they want to partner with us. They also are hopeful that we can help them with outreach and church planting in northern Mexico, where the INP has very little presence and where many EPC churches send short-term mission groups.”
The EPC team visited the INP national office; four churches in Mexico City, Toluca, and Morelia; one of the INP’s seven seminaries; an educational institute (preschool through high school); and a hospital. One of the four congregations, La Paz Church in Mexico City, was formed in 1954 and since has planted 39 daughter churches as well as established an INP church planting training center.
The EPC Fraternal Relations Committee has been working with INP counterparts on a proposed fraternal agreement. The leadership of INP has been invited to attend the EPC General Assembly at Ward Church in suburban Detroit in June.
“If the Assembly approves the agreement,” Jeremiah said, “we will send representatives to the July 18-22 national gathering of the INP in Chiapas, Mexico.”
The INP has two million members and is the largest Presbyterian denomination in the western hemisphere. The majority of the INP’s churches are in the Mexico City area and southern Mexico. INP’s minimal presence in northern Mexico is attributed to the 1919 “Cincinnati Plan,” in which American denominational leaders decided that Presbyterians would minister in the southern part of the country, while Methodists and others were given the northern part (no Mexicans participated in this decision).
Under the leadership of then-President Danny Ramirez Celis, the INP severed ties with the PCUSA in 2011 when the mainline approved the ordination of homosexuals.