Fraternidad de Iglesias Evangélicas Menonitas de Nicaragua
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|Fraternidad de Iglesias Evangélicas Menonitas de Nicaragua|
La Fraternidad de Iglesias Evangélica Menonitas de Nicaragua tiene alrededor de 1.500 miembros en 22 congregaciones. Es miembra del Congreso Mundial Menonita.
The Church of the Fraternity of Evangelical Mennonites of Nicaragua has around 1.500 members and 22 congregations. It is a member of Mennonite World Conference
In 1966, Alfred and Doris Friesen arrive in the Francisco Morazan neighborhood in Managua. They are the first missionaries from the Canadian Evangelical Mennonite Church in Manitoba, Canada.
In these first few years of missionary presence in the city, efforts were concentrated on literacy, interaction with the community, and Bible distribution. They went from house to house in the community, guided by Guillermo Castillo, a Nicaraguan sympathetic to their cause.
The missionary group met a family from the Baptist Mission, who let them hold church services in their worship space. In the early days of church services, the following Nicaraguan people participated: The Argueda family, Reyes Arguello, Santiago Reyes, Bayardo Ruiz, Carmen Plata, Isabel Velasquez, Dominga Reyes, and others.
Having gathered a sufficiently large group of people, they decided to continue holding services in the house of Juan and Argentina Reyes. Eventually, due to the increase in church attendance, the house and patio of the Reyes family were no longer large enough to hold services. The church members donated on a voluntary basis in order to raise money for the construction of a new church building. Various women in the church also made and sold sewing projects in order to contribute to the collection. By 1969, enough money had been collected to buy a piece of land and construct a church building.
In March of 1970, the the first service was held in the new space-- the first official building of the Nicaraguan church. In the same service, the first Nicaraguan Brothers were baptized: Cesar Arguello, Carmen Miranda, and Francisca Rivas. Today, this building serves as the Sunday School Office, the kitchen, and the Classroom for Intermediate students.
In the same year, a new church plant in La Paz de Carazo began with the arrival of Lester and Darlene Olfert. The church in La Paz grew quickly, and the Olferts were very active in starting numerous other church plants in surrounding towns.
In 1973, the Fraternity of Evangelical Mennonite churches of Nicaragua officially organized in collaboration with Nicaraguan and EMC leaders of the various congregations. The official aims of the were church established as follows: Preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Promote and maintain fraternal unity among the churches of Jesus Christ. Cultivate the spiritual and physical health of people. Cooperate with other Christian groups in Nicaragua to promote the Gospel and the well being of the society.
In 1974, legal status of the church was officially confirmed and recognized by the government.
Below is the transcription of the Historical Review of the church stemming from the Olfert's work in La Paz. The transcription is provided in an English translation, and then in the original Spanish.
Historical Review: First Church of the Mennonite Fraternity in Managua, Nicaragua.
In the year 1969, missionary Alfred Friesen arrived in Nicaragua along with his family in order to begin Mennonite work in the Francisco Morazán colony. They worked to distribute Bibles, going house to house along with Brother Guillermo Castillo. They met a family from the Baptist Mission, who let them hold church services in their space. In the first days off the church, the following people participated: The Argueda family, Reyes Arguello, Brother Santiago Reyes (May he rest in peace), Bayardo Ruiz, Carmen Plata, Isabel Velasquez, Dominga Reyes, and others.
Having gathered a sufficiently large group of people, they decided to continue holding services in the house of Brother Juan and Sister Argentina Reyes (may she rest in peace), where there previously had a been [unintelligible type] on the patio. At this time, they were joined by the family of Brother Filadelfo and Sister Azucena de la Cuadra (may she rest in peace).
God’s promise was fulfilled, and eventually, due to the increase in church attendance, the house and patrio of the Reyes family were no longer large enough to hold services. Thus, the Brother’s felt the urgent need to build a formal Temple. For this purpose, they bought a piece of land and constructed the first official church building. Today, this building serves as the Sunday School Office, the kitchen, and the Classroom for Intermediate students.
In March of 1970, the first service was held in the new church building. In the same service, the first Nicaraguan Brothers were baptized: Cesar Arguello, Carmen Miranda, and Francisca Rivas.
The Brothers of the church all donated on a voluntary basis to a monetary collection that was needed to pay for the construction of the church. Contributions were also made by the sale of embroidery and sewing done by the church Sisters Leila de Porras, Doris Friesen, Azucena de Cuadra y Josefa Ruiz.
The years the church has spent growing have been accompanied by great struggles, by tears, by laughter, by advancements and by challenges, but above all we have always had the permanent guarantee that GOD IS WITH US.
The church has had the following men as pastors: the Brothers Cayetano Calderon, Lorenzo Romero, Jairo Arce, Bayardo Blandón, Pedro Luis Espinales, Martin Tijerino and currently Brother Ramiro Moreno.
Reseña Historica: Primera Iglesia de la Fraternidad Menonita en Managua, Nicaragua.
En el año 1969, llegó a Nicaragua en compañía de su familia el hermano misionero Alfredo Friesen, quién inició la obra Menonita en la colonia Francisco Morazán, [ininteligible] Biblias y visitando casa por casa acompañado del hermano Guillermo Castillo, conociendo a una familia de la Misión Bautista, donde se les permitió celebrar cultos en compañía de los primeros hermanos siendo éstos, Familia Argueda, Reyes Arguello, Ane Santiago Reyes (Que en Paz descanse), Bayardo Ruiz, Carmen Plata, Isabel Velasquez, Dominga Reyes, y otros.
Teniendo ya un hermoso grupo decidieron continuar sus cultos en casa de los Hnos. Juan y Argentina Reyes (que en paz descanse), donde posteriormente se hizo una [ininteligible] en el patio, agregandose también la familia de los Hnos. Filadelfo y Azucena de Cuadra (que en paz descanse).
La promesa de Dios se hizo realidad en cuanto al crecimiento de la [ininteligible], fue precisamente debido al aumento de asistencia que la casa u el patio de la familia Reyes resultaban pequeños. Bajo tal condición los Hnos. sintieron la necesidad urgente de construir un Templo formal para lo cual compraron un terreno y levantaron primeramente una enramada grande y luego la construcción, del primer edificio donde actualmente se encuentra la Oficina de Escuela Dominical, La cocina, y el Aula de Intermedios.
En Marzo de 1970, se hizo el primer servicio ya en el templo nuevo, festejando también el primer bautizo de los hnos., Cesar Arguello, Carmen Miranda, Francisca Rivas.
Para hacer todos los gastos de construcción fue necesario un fondo monetario, el cual obtuvieron a través de la contribución voluntaria de cada Hno., que asistía y la venta de bordados y tejidos estos últimos elaborados por las hnas: Leila de Porras, Doris Friesen, Azucena de Cuadra y Josefa Ruiz.
La celebración de los Hnos misioneros Friesen, Olfert, Raymer, Plett y Ernesto Koops, ha sido [ininteligible] a la par del Servicio Voluntario de Jóvenes Menonitas del Canadá, Estados Unidos, y los Jóvenes nuestros. Es muy importante mencionar en nuestra historia el aporte [ininteligible] que para las [ininteligible] de nuestra Iglesia fue la hna Darlene Olfert, con su creatividad en la [ininteligible] de historias Biblicas infantiles, en música, dramas, cocina, etc.
Los años que llevamos trabajando han sido acompañados de grandes luchas, lágrimas, risas, avances y retos, pero sobre todo nuestra garantía ha sido la presencia permanente de DIOS CON NOSOTROS.
Hemos tenido como Pastores los Hermanos Cayetano Calderon, Lorenzo Romero, Jairo Arce, Bayardo Blandón, Pedro Luis Espinales, Martin Tijerino y actualmente el Hno. Ramiro Moreno.
Los Misioneros menonitas que llegaron en 1966 trabajaron en distribución de literatura cristiana, visitas a hogares, y estudios bíblicos. Como resultado de esto, la Fraternidad de Iglesias Evangélica Menonitas de Nicaragua fue formad en 1970 por misioneros de la conferencia Evangélica Menonita de Canadá. Fue incorporada legalmente tres años después. 
Vida Contemporánea/ Contemporary Life
Ahora es una iglesia autónoma que se enfoca en áreas de desarrollo comunitario, capacitación de líders, y educación cristiana.
Today, the Fraternidad is an autonomous church that focuses on the areas of community development, leadership development, and Christian education.
Group Identification within the Anabaptist/Mennonite tradition:
The beliefs and theology reflects several of the most important tenets of early Anabaptist tradition and faith. Most importantly, the church is pacifist, Bible-centered, and practices believer’s baptism. As noted in the list above, there are also a number of church traditions which mirror practices of the early Anabaptists, including foot washing and communion among members of the church.
With regard to cultural similarities, the church is historically more conservative than its Catholic and Protestant counterparts in Nicaraguan. Part of this conservatism is a simplicity and modesty of dress and manner. It is only in the last 20 years that women have been permitted to wear pants, and even more recently that they have been able to wear pants to church.
The church does participate in national and international gatherings of Anabaptists. They typically try to send one or more representatives to the world Mennonite conference, and to send youth to JUAMCA (Central American Mennonite Youth Conference). Pedro Luis Vargas works in a variety of Mennonite organizations and churches, though he is mostly concerned with youth ministry. He noted that the Fraternidad (on both a national and congregational level) is always eager to participate in events with the Convencion or the Hermanos en Cristo-- the other two branches of the Mennonite church in the country.
There are people in the church who care deeply about passing on the Anabaptist tradition, and about helping people understand what it is that distinguishes Anabaptists from other Christian groups-- “because many know they are Anabaptist without really knowing how they are different from Catholics or Protestants. And they are different,” according to Lisette Largaespada. Largaespada helps lead a sunday school to community children every Saturday morning from 9:00 to 12:00. She said there are typically between 60-70 children on any given week, though they have had as many as 140 before. Largaespada is part of a larger effort to grow the church by helping its members learn more about their tradition, and by reaching out to youth.
Personas importantes en la vida de la iglesia/ Important people in the life of the church
Veronica Argueda knows more about the history and theology of the church throughout its existence than perhaps anyone else. Unfortunately, she has been ill and could not be reached for this project, but she is an energetic woman who is always more than willing to share her time and knowledge. I believe that she would have a lot to share about the church’s past, how it has lead to the present, and how its future can be shaped.
Lisette Largaespada was the secretary of the national Concilio from 2011-2013 and a member of the Fraternidad. Though Lisette is no longer a part of the Concilio, she is very active in the church. She is a passionate member of the church, and is both knowledgeable about the church’s past, and invested in its future. She spends most of her time working in an outreach program for children in her neighborhood.
Freddy Sevilla is currently the president of the Concilio.
Ana Maria Reyes is currently a member of the Conclio in the role of president of the Committee of Evangelism.
Jairo Arce' is a member of the Concilio currently. He is a committed follower of Anabaptist teachings, and is willing and eager to discuss the church and its current state.
Nicolas Sequeira is a Fraternidad pastor, and a current member of the Concilio.
Gerardo Chavarria is a current member of the Concilio.
Ramiro Moreno is a current member of the Concilio.
"Elsa Moreno" is a current member of the Concilio.
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Founding Members of the Nicaraguan Church.“Reseña Historica.” Informational Booklet, Private Collection of Lisette Largaespada. Managua, Nicaragua. 2019.
This booklet was put together by what is described as “Founding Members of the Nicaraguan Church” (translated by the author) as a commemoration of the church’s 50 year anniversary. It was distributed to the congregation in Ciudad Sandino, though it is unclear whether or not distribution occurred more broadly. The booklet consists of a prayer of gratitude and thanks, some Bible verses, and a two page history of the church.
Olfert, Lester. Mennonite World Handbook. Lombard, IL.: Mennonite World Conference, 1978.
The Mennonite World Conference handbook is a collection of brief informational snippets including hard data and founding information from branches of the church all over the world. The entry on the Fraternidad was written by Lester Olfert, one of the first EMC missionaries in the country. The account provides helpful first-hand details that helped to flesh out the generalities of the timeline listed in the Valladares book.
Valladares, Jaime Prieto. Mission and Migration: Global Mennonite History Series: Latin America. Intercourse, PA.: Good Books, 2010.
This book is the Latin American volume of a series of global Mennonite Missions and churches. The chapter on Nicaragua contains just a few pages concerning the history of the Fraternidad, but provided some key names and dates.
Archivos y Bibliotecas
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- Donald B. Kraybill, Concise Encyclopedia of Amish, Brethren, Hutterites, and Mennonites (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2010), 231.
- Global Gift Sharing Report (MWC, 2005), 107-108.