Through the EPC’s fraternal relationship with the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico (INPM), Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Erie, Pa., has formed a ministry relationship with Iglesia Nacional Presbiteriana El Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd National Presbyterian Church) in Monterrey, Mexico. The northeastern Mexican city of more than 4.5 million residents is about 200 miles west of Brownsville, Texas.
The seeds of the relationship were planted in November 2018, when Redeemer Pastor Douglas Kortyna and his wife, Sara, were visiting Monterrey.
“We wanted to worship with fellow Presbyterians while we were down there visiting family,” Douglas said. “We found El Buen Pastor and connected with their pastor, David Cruz.”
Through their new-found friendship with Cruz, the Kortynas began a dialogue about potential future mission trips to Mexico. After discussing a variety of possible ministry opportunities, the pastors agreed that the best fit for a first mission trip would be theological education.
“It is a universal truth that Presbyterians throughout the world love their theological education!” Douglas exclaimed.
In November 2019, the Kortynas and a retired Presbyterian pastor from the Erie area, Jim Moelk, and his wife, Jaye, traveled to Monterrey and taught on a variety of topics.
“I taught on trinitarian worship and Reformed sacraments,” Douglas said. “Jim taught through the pastoral epistles with special attention to ‘guarding your conscience,’ while Sara taught the woman’s group at El Buen Pastor on the topic of trinitarian prayer.”
In addition, the group from Redeemer learned how their Mexican counterparts were engaged in church planting.
“The church has started what they call ‘five in five,’” Douglas said. “They are working toward planting five churches within a five-year time period.”
Cruz led the Pennsylvania contigent on tours of three of the Monterrey congregation’s five current church plants.
“We were blown away,” Douglas said. “What church plants five churches in five years? Yet every time El Buen Pastor hits a certain threshold of members, they plant a church, commission the team they establish, and commit to supporting them financially.”
He explained that the El Buen Pastor congregation has “a Kingdom focus and is not interested in just building up one congregation. I couldn’t help but think we should host pastors from Mexico to help teach future EPC church planters some of their strategies!”
Kortyna hopes the November trip is just the start of a fruitful partnership.
“We would love to host a team from El Buen Pastor,” he said. “There is much to learn from our Mexican brothers and sisters in Christ while mutually serving one another, and I firmly believe we should participate with them in the missional work of church planting in Monterrey. Anyone interested in joining us is welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.”