Mexican Mennonite Mission Work (Mennonite Church)
The Mennonite Church (MC) began mission work in Argentina in 1917. Growing interest in Spanish-speaking people resulted in the appointment of D. H. Bender and S. E. Allgyer by the Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities to investigate mission needs among Mexicans from Brownsville, Texas, all along the Mexican border to California. This investigation was carried out in February and March 1920. Recommendation to open mission work in Phoenix, Arizona, was brought to the annual meeting of the Board in May 1920. Fifteen years later, in 1935, another committee was appointed to make a similar investigation. T. K. Hershey and William Detweiler served on this committee and made an extensive investigative tour along the border. As a result T. K. Hershey spent the winter of 1936-1937 with a trailer preaching and distributing literature among Mexicans along the Texas border. In May 1937, Amsa Kauffman took over the responsibility for the work. Small groups of believers were established in several towns, but finally the center of the program was located at the town of Mathis.
Other workers followed Kauffman after his call to serve as pastor in Indiana, some attempting to support themselves as they sought to witness in a voluntary capacity. The program was greatly strengthened by the setting up of a Voluntary Service unit at Mathis in 1952, activities of which included housing construction, kindergarten, maternity home, crafts, and other community service. A small church was built in 1949, and a new and larger one was begun in the winter of 1954. J. Weldon Martin was the pastor following 1951.
In addition to this Mexican program in Texas there were Spanish language churches for Mexicans in La Junta, CO, Chicago, IL, and Archbold, Ohio. The work in La Junta was organized in 1923; David Castillo was pastor after 1940. The membership in 1955 was 44, with an average attendance of approximately 56; a weekly radio program was conducted over the local station. The Mexican work in Chicago was opened in 1932 by J. W. Shank, missionary on furlough from Argentina. Mario Snyder was pastor after 1953; the membership in 1955 was 53, and the average Sunday-school attendance 107. The work at Archbold, Ohio, was largely the fruit of the labors of William S. Florry. He began Sunday school and services among the migrant Mexicans of his community in 1940 and in 1956 the Mexican congregation worshipped in a building of its own. The baptized membership was only three, but the attendance much larger. In 1956 and early 1957 work was opened among Spanish-speaking people in Corpus Christi, TX, with Don Brenneman as pastor; Los Angeles, CA, with Bernard Kroeker as pastor; Defiance, Ohio, with Victor M. Ovando as pastor.
Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, and Waterloo, Ontario, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 3, pp. 662-663. All rights reserved. For information on ordering the encyclopedia visit the Herald Press website.
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MLA style: Graber, J. D. "Mexican Mennonite Mission Work (Mennonite Church)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. 1957. Web. 19 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M49190.html.
APA style: Graber, J. D. (1957). Mexican Mennonite Mission Work (Mennonite Church). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/M49190.html.