Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Map of Argentina.
Source: World Factbook, 2005
Buenos Aires (coordinates: 34°36′12″S 58°22′54″W) is the capital of the Argentine Republic and a seaport city of over 4,000,000 population in 1950. The first missionaries to work in Argentina under the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (Elkhart, Indiana) arrived in Buenos Aires in 1917. Because most of the missionaries of other boards working in Argentina had located in Buenos Aires, the first workers, the Shanks and Hersheys, moved to the rural districts of the southwest where there were a dozen or more towns and cities of five to fifteen thousand. In these centers, along the Western Railway, the foundations were laid, beginning in Pehuajo in 1919. As more missionaries were sent, more work was opened, churches were built, orphanages were established, the Bible School and the printery filled a needy place in the mission. In the first 20 years the membership grew to over 500 baptized believers.
However, by 1939, the rural churches were steadily losing members who had moved to Buenos Aires because of economic inducements. The managing committee of the mission resolved that missionaries Shank and Litwiller make themselves responsible for the scattered members in Buenos Aires and its suburbs. By means of a circular letter a group of 43 were gathered for the first meeting, a preaching service held in the YMCA. Plans were made for regular meetings, which were held in halls either loaned or rented for that purpose.
By 1941 the L. S. Webers were sent to Buenos Aires to shepherd the flock. Because of a lack of workers, the Webers were moved to Bragado by December 1944. In the meantime, the Albano Luayza family had moved to Ramos Mejia, a suburb of Buenos Aires, and in December 1944 Luayza also took charge of the Buenos Aires congregation. The mission bought its first property in Buenos Aires in June 1946.
Because of governmental regulations which required the mission to have a central office in Buenos Aires, and because of the continued movement of members from the country to the capital, and for the sake of a remnant of Russian Mennonite refugees who stayed in Buenos Aires in the migration of 1947 from Germany to Paraguay, it was decided that the Litwillers should go to Buenos Aires to take charge of the work. Accordingly, in July 1949 a large property was purchased and by November 1949 work was inaugurated. The chapel was used not only for worship services for the Argentine Mennonite Church but also for the Russian Mennonites. Sponsored by the Mennonite Central Committee, the Russian Mennonites, under the pastoral care of Martin Durksen and the advisory supervision of Nelson Litwiller, began meeting in October 1950 in a rented ball in Villa Ballester, a suburb of Buenos Aires. There were approximately 400 Russian Mennonites in Argentina in 1950 (a few German Mennonites among them), most of whom lived in Buenos Aires and its suburbs. The membership of the Mennonite Church (MC) in Ramos Mejia under Pastor Luayza numbered approximately 40 in 1951, while the membership in Buenos Aires proper was 30.
Buenos Aires, Argentina, is the capital city of the Argentine Republic. Its population was estimated at 13,356,715 in 2009, including greater Buenos Aires.
The policy of the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (MC) as it began witness in Argentina was to work mainly in the rural areas. Due to the critical economic situation of the 1930s, many church members began to move to the Buenos Aires area, and it was evident that something had to be done to care for the church members moving to the city. For that reason, the missionary council decided to recommend periodic visits to the church members scattered all over the city. The first Mennonite congregation was established ca. 1940 in the Parque Chacabuco neighborhood. Later that property was sold, and land in Mercedes 149 (Floresta) was purchased. This became the permanent location of the first Mennonite congregation established in Buenos Aires.
A few years later, Albano Luayza, the first national worker, moved to Ramos Mejía and established the second Mennonite congregation. Pastor Luayza visited Morón regularly after 1954, and in 1967 a new chapel was dedicated. This same pattern followed in Ituzaingó, where, in 1988, the congregation is pastored by Rubén Darino and owns its meeting place. Mennonite witness was begun in Villa Adelina in 1961 by Mario and Barbara Snyder. This congregation has had its own chapel since 1968 and was been pastored by Néstor Comas after 1964. Haedo was started as an branch of the Ramos Mejía church in 1961; in 1988 this congregation had completed the building of a new chapel as a meeting place. Kilómetro 30 (later Adolfo Sourdeaux) began in 1964 in the home of Boris Janzen, led by Mario Snyder and the members of the Villa Adelina church. Alicia Neufeld was a faithful worker until her death in 1967. It has become the largest congregation in Buenos Aires (200 members). Its pastor in 1988 was the well-known evangelist Delfin Soto. San Pablo was a church planting effort of the Adolfo Sourdeaux congregation that has become a a growing and established congregation. The administrative center for the Iglesia Evangélica Menonita Argentina (Argentine Evangelical Mennonite Church) is at the Floresta church. It contains the files for the Argentine church and the Centro Evangélica Menonita de Estudios Bíblicos (Mennonite Center for Bible Studies). Juan A. Gutiérrez was the pastor in 1988.
Several theological educational institutes are located in Buenos Aires, representing diverse denominations. Some of them serve partially in the leadership training of Mennonites, and they also welcome and sometimes hire Mennonite teachers and lecturers.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 1, 463; vol. 5, pp.105-106. 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: Litwiller, Nelson and Raul O. Garcia. "Buenos Aires (Argentina)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1988. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B84.html.
APA style: Litwiller, Nelson and Raul O. Garcia. (1988). Buenos Aires (Argentina). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B84.html.