Mission History in Mexico
1964: Lutheran pastor David Orea Luna seeks counsel from WELS for confessional reasons.
1969: David Orea Luna and David Chichia are received into fellowship by WELS. Missions begin in Mexico City and Guadalajara.
1970: Constitution of the IELC in Mexico is adopted. Because Mexican law forbids residency to foreign missionaries, WELS pastors work out of El Paso, Texas, using periodic visits to instruct seminary students and counsel congregations and pastors (this continues throughout the 1980s as well).
1972: Vicente Guillén is called to pastor congregation, Cristo Resucitado, in Juarez.
1983: Due to lack of missionary presence and resulting difficulties, the WELS Coordinating Council votes to close the field in Mexico. In its fall synod convention, WELS rescinds its decision to close field and opts to seek ways to increase missionary presence in Mexico.
1984: IELC receives La Santa Cruz, an established Lutheran congregation in Monterrey, into fellowship.
1985: A full three-man missionary team in El Paso makes it possible to increase missionary time in Mexico to well over 100 days per year.
1986: Church building built for Cristo Glorificado congregation in Puebla.
1990: IELC receives El Redentor, an established Lutheran congregation in Torreón, into fellowship. Torreón is served by national seminary graduate, Otoniel Rodriguez.
1993: The Lord opens the door for mission work as the Mexican government legalizes residency for foreign missionaries. Ernest Zimdars and Larry Schlomer are the first legal resident missionaries in Mexico.
1995: The national church in convention adopts its first five-year plan with steps toward the mission’s self-propagation, self-discipline, self-support, and self-administration.
1997: The Lord’s blessings on mission work in Mexico are evident as 26 adults are confirmed and 13 children are baptized.
2002: The “Jesus My Savior” mission is started up in Gomez Palcio, Durango. This is the first new mission started completely by national church initiative.
2005: The national church builds and dedicates its first Mexican Lutheran Seminary in Torreón. There are now five full-time Mexican national pastors.
2007: The “Lamb of God” mission is started up in Pachuca, Hidalgo. Two WELS Kingdom Worker volunteers begin teaching English as part of the outreach effort there. In June, Juan Jose Olvera graduated from the Mexican Lutheran Seminary. There are now six Mexican pastors, and worship services are held in 15 different locations in Mexico each week.
2009: Two new congregations, El Buen Pastor (Good Shepherd) in Altar, Sonora, and Cordero de Dios (Lamb of God) in Sásabe, Sonora, are officially welcomed into the IELC during their annual national convention.
2010: Two Mexican seminary graduates are ordained and installed as missionaries to Sonora. They will serve the two Sonoran congregations as well as the 12 preaching stations in the north central region of Sonora. By God’s grace there are now seven full-time Mexican national pastors.
In March the Mexican mission team relocates to the city of León to start up outreach in the area. The main motives for this move are security concerns stemming from Mexico’s ongoing drug war.
2015: Academia Cristo launches in Latin America with the goal of empowering Latinos to plant more churches.
2017: A major step is taken when the IELC produces five-year plan for self-support. The plan is agreed upon by WELS Missions and represents important progress as the national church takes on the responsibility of the work of the gospel in its congregations in Mexico.
2019: To allow the national church to continue working on the plan proposed for self-support, missionaries serving in Mexico are redeployed to a different country to work on the harvest in new mission fields. WELS remains connected to the national church through a WELS pastor who serves as a liaison with the national church and who reports to the WELS Commission on Inter-Church Relations and the WELS World Mission team.