Aliança Evangélica Menonita, Brazil
Aliança Evangélica Menonita, Brazil (AEM, Evangelical Mennonite Alliance; formerly Associação Evangélica Menonita, Brazil (Evangelical Mennonite Association) is the Portuguese-speaking conference of Mennonites in Brazil. It began when the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (MC) sent Peter and Alice Sawatsky, and J. Richard and Susan Burkholder, to São Paulo state in 1954. They were joined by Glenn and Lois Musselman, and David and Rose Hostetler, in 1956. Church planting ministries were started in three locations in São Paulo state.
About the same time Howard Hammer, Richard Kissell, Mildred Eichelberger, and others went to north Brazil, where they initiated evangelistic work in Araguacema, Goiás state, and also started medical and educational work. This mission was called the Amazon Valley Indian Mission.
In 1957 the Associação Evangélica (AEM) was formed as a legal entity to hold property titles for the churches established in the cities of São Paulo, Valinhos, and Sertaozinho. Contacts were also made with German-speaking Mennonites in the Curitiba area, where the Associação das Igrejas Menonitas do Brazil (AIManitoba, Canada) was also reaching out in evangelism. Over the years AEM and AIMB have cooperated in outreach, and three congregations in 1986 were affiliated with both conferences.
Literature work was begun in 1957 with a bookstore in Campinas, expanding to include bookstores in Brasilia (1962), Taguatinga (1963), and Ribeirao Preto (1964). The stores use the name Livraria Crista Unida (United Christian Bookstore). The stores are unique because they carry a broad selection of materials to serve all denominations. More than 20 titles have been published under Mennonite auspices. In 1973 the bookstores were incorporated as branches of AEM. In 1983 the Literature Commission was formed to administer the literature program. All managers are Brazilian Mennonites.
The work begun in Araguacema came under the administration of AEM in 1960, and it expanded into other towns in the area. In 1976, 1977, and 1982 strategy conferences were held to plan for future expansion and to set priorities for the churches. In 1976 the Commission for Overseas Mission (GCM) began working in cooperation with the Mennonite Board of Missions (MBM) and AEM.
In 1986 AEM had 1,001 members in 25 congregations. In 2003 there were 2,000 members in 30 congregations. These are organized into four geographical regions: region 1 in São Paulo state with nine churches; region 2 in Paraná state with seven churches; region three in the Federal District and adjacent state of Goias with four churches; and region four in northern Goiás around Araguacema with five churches. Region five in northeast Brazil has fraternal relationships with AEM, but is administered by the Commission on Overseas Missions. MBM, COM and AIMB support AEM with funds and personnel. Teodoro Penner was executive secretary in 1987. The conference publishes Intercambio Menonita (Mennonite Exchange).
Each year in July, AEM meets for a three-day conference. The assembly meets for a half-day session of formal business. The AEM executive committee is elected biennially. The remainder of the time is given to worship and the Word. It also provides a time for renewing friendship and fellowship for churches which are scattered over long distances. The four regions take turns hosting the conference.
Centro Menonita de Teologia (CEMTE) is the leadership training program of AEM. After an extensive survey in 1982, a program was designed to instruct leaders through an open seminary format. The basic course of theological education by extension had 173 students in 1987. More advanced courses are being developed. CEMTE is ad-ministered from Campinas, São Paulo state.
In 2007, the name was changed to Aliança Evangélica Menonita (AEM) in accordance with a new regional structure.
Kraybill, Paul N., ed. Mennonite World Handbook. Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1978: 204-208.
Mennonite World Handbook Supplement. Strasbourg, France, and Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1984: 62.
Mennonite Yearbook and Directory (1986/87): 154.
Handbook of Information, General Conference Mennonite Church (1988): 87, 91.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, p. 41. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
©1996-2013 by the Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. All rights reserved.
MLA style: Hochstetler, Otis E and Sam Steiner. "Aliança Evangélica Menonita, Brazil." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 2009. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A797.html.
APA style: Hochstetler, Otis E and Sam Steiner. (2009). Aliança Evangélica Menonita, Brazil. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/A797.html.