La Ceiba, Honduras – After decades of misunderstanding and little collaboration, Organización Cristiana Amor Viviente and Iglesia Evangelica Menonita Hondureña (IEMH), the two largest Anabaptist groups in Honduras, have publicly reconciled with each other and are actively working at improving their relationship. Both are Mennonite World Conference member churches.
In August 2013, leaders from both groups met with other church leaders from around the world at the Holy Spirit in Missions Conference in Changi Cove, Singapore. The conference was organized by the International Missions Association (IMA), an association of about 21 Anabaptist mission bodies established for prayer, mutual support and partnership. Many are MWC member churches.
As conference participants gathered to share in the Lord’s Supper, Carlos Marín Montoya, president of Amor Viviente, publicly asked for forgiveness from Adalid Romero, president of IEMH, for “all the damage you have received from us in the past.”
“Brother, you are forgiven,” responded Romero, and the two groups committed to mutual forgiveness, fellowship, collaboration, and support between the groups.
Momentum for improving the relationship has grown, and leaders of both groups are taking concrete steps to encourage fellowship at all levels of the church. In July 2014, Montoya accepted an invitation to attend the annual assembly of IEMH in La Ceiba.
“I was invited to give a series of talks to pastors and leaders from across the country who participated in the assembly,” said Montoya. “There Adalid and I informed them of what happened in Singapore, and they were pleased with our testimony and gave a vote of affirmation for walking together more closely and forgetting what has happened in the past.”
While the two churches never engaged in large-scale conflict with each other, there have been tensions between them since the 1970s.
IEMH was established in 1950 through the work of several missionary families from Eastern Mennonite Missions (EMM), an agency of the Lancaster Conference of Mennonite Church USA, a MWC member church. IEMH began in the city of Trujillo, a maritime port two to three hours from the nearest city, La Ceiba, and ministered primarily to the rural poor in the area.
Amor Viviente was established in the 1970s by EMM workers Ed and Gloria King, who developed a ministry to youth immersed in drugs and alcohol. It became a fast-growing charismatic discipleship movement that spread throughout Honduras.
– Adapted from an EMM news release by Chris Fretz