For the National Evangelical Primitive Methodist Church of Guatemala – a small church with a big name – your presence and your work are blessings. We hope your experiences here will prove to be a blessing for you also.
Our name in Spanish is Iglesia Evangélica Nacional Metodista Primitiva de Guatemala (IENMPG). The church’s origins go back to missionaries from the Primitive Methodist Church, a small branch of Methodism, who arrived in Guatemala in 1914 and is now part of the Global Methodist Ministries.
The church has about 7,000 members, including children. Sixty-two of its 75 congregations are located in the western highlands, mainly in the province of Quiché. About 80% of church members belong to the indigenous Quiche group and speak the Quiché language. Many Guatemalan Methodists are bilingual, speaking both Spanish and Quiché, while a considerable number speak only Quiché.
The highland area where the majority of our members live was one of the hardest-hit by massacres and destruction of villages during the years of guerrilla rebellion and army repression. These began in the 1960’s, escalated after the 1976 earthquake, and reached a peak during the 1980’s, tapering off slowly until a peace agreement was finalized in 1996.
Recovery from the 30-year civil war has been very slow, with many setbacks. The IENMPG was active in emergency relief work during the period of the worst repression, with help from the General Board of Global Ministries and other agencies.
As a result of its violent and tragic history, Guatemala is at or near the bottom of the international rankings that indicate general welfare in Latin America and Caribbean countries: literacy, infant mortality, life expectancy, nutritional status, family income, etc. In Guatemala overall, the average level of schooling is 2.3 years. In indigenous regions such as Quiché, it is 1.3 years, well below the 3-year minimum considered necessary to achieve functional literacy.
The national economy is chronically in crisis, with high unemployment and inadequate wages for those who are fortunate enough to have jobs. Pastors in the Methodist Church do not receive salaries, but support their families by farming; by small businesses or selling in indigenous markets; or by hiring out as construction workers. Recently a few churches in the U.S. have begun support for some of our Methodist pastors by donating a monthly stipend to assist their ministry. More assistance of this type is always welcome. VIM teams have made critical contributions to the survival and function of the IENMPG, which in turn plays a vital role in improving the spiritual and material health of its members at the individual, family and community levels.
We give thanks to God for your friendship!