‘Brother, you are forgiven’

Two largest Anabaptist groups in Honduras reconcile

Oct 20, 2014 by and

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LA CEIBA, Honduras — After decades of misunderstanding and little collaboration, the two largest Anabaptist groups in Honduras have publicly reconciled.

Adalid Romero, left, president of Iglesia Evangelica Menonita Hondureña, and Carlos Marín Montoya, president of Amor Viviente, embrace at the 2013 Holy Spirit in Mission Conference in Singapore. — Javier Soler

Adalid Romero, left, president of Iglesia Evangelica Menonita Hondureña, and Carlos Marín Montoya, president of Amor Viviente, embrace at the 2013 Holy Spirit in Mission Conference in Singapore. — Javier Soler

In August 2013, leaders from the groups — Amor Viviente (Living Love) and Iglesia Evangelica Menonita Hondureña (Evangelical Mennonite Church of Honduras) — met with other church leaders from around the world at the Holy Spirit in Mission Conference in Changi Cove, Singapore.

The conference was organized by the International Missions Association, a group of Anabaptist mission bodies established for prayer, mutual support and partnership.

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 forgiveness, fellowship, collaboration and support.

Momentum for improving the relationship has grown, and leaders of both groups are taking concrete steps to encourage fellowship. In July, 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,” Montoya said. “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, 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, including James and Beatrice Hess and James and Rhoda Sauder. The church began in Trujillo, a mari­time port two to three hours from La Ceiba, and ministered primarily to the rural poor.

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, along with others from broken homes. It became a fast-growing charismatic discipleship movement that spread throughout Honduras.

“Both churches are very holistic, but historically they’ve had different approaches to ministry,” said Steve Shank, pioneering coach at EMM. “This led to some misperceptions about each other and some miscommunication in the past. But now that they’ve reconciled, good relationships are being built.”

Last month Shank visited both groups with EMM President Nelson Okanya; Brian Martin, chair of the EMM board of directors; and EMM’s church revitalization coach Antonio Ulloa.

“During our visit, we got to see Javier [a leader from Amor Viviente] and Adalid sitting and chatting together,” Ulloa said. “I turned to Nelson and Brian and said, ‘I love this! This is new!’ They were laughing and joking with each other. Carlos and Javier were friends with Adalid before he became the president of [IEMH], which made it easier for them to reconcile than for past leaders of these churches.”


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