Convención Evangélica Menonita de Costa Rica

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1987 Article

Convención Evangélica Menonita de Costa Rica (Conference of Evangelical Mennonites of Costa Rica). In August 1961 the Conservative Mennonite Board of Missions and Charities (Rosedale Mennonite Missions) sent two missionary couples, Elmer and Eileen Lehman, and Raymond and Susanna Schlabach, to establish a Mennonite witness in Costa Rica. The Lehman family started a church planting ministry in the city of Heredia, located in the central plateau. The Schlabachs began work translating the Bible into the Bri-Bri Indian language and settled in Talamanca in southern Costa Rica. A voluntary service program in Costa Rica begun by Rosedale Mennonite Missions in 1962 continued until 1983. During the program's existence at least 96 volunteers served two years or more in the country and were involved in community development through agricultural services, literacy work, and sanitation and health programs. Henry and Esther Helmuth came to Costa Rica as missionaries in 1965 to start a church planting ministry in northern Costa Rica, in the town of Puerto Viejo de Sarapiquí. In 1967 the Helmuths moved to the capital city of San José to plant a congregation in the suburb of Guadalupe. The first decade of church planting ministry in Costa Rica led to a national membership of 87 in three churches, Heredia, Guadalupe, and Talarnanca.

On 30 March 1974, six charter member churches with a total membership of 165 united to form the Convención Evangélica Menonita de Costa Rica. Of the seven-member conference executive committee, three were from North America and four were Costa Rican believers. In 1979 a memo of understanding between Rosedale Mennonite Missions and the Costa Rican conference was signed. It recognized the conference as an autonomous body and provided for a gradual year-by-year reduction in the subsidy granted by the mission. By 1980 the executive committee of the Costa Rican conference was composed entirely of national leaders. In 1983 the voluntary service program sponsored by Rosedale Mennonite Missions was terminated and all foreign missionary personnel except for one couple, David and Mayela Diller, left the country.

Institute Biblico Menonita (Mennonite Bible Institute) was formed in 1977 as a resident Bible institute. In 1982 its program was revised to provide theological education by extension, with teachers visiting six regional centers around the country to give short seminars to local church leaders. The Costa Rican conference is also affiliated with SEMILLA (Seminario Ministerial de Liderazgo Anabautista [Anabaptist Ministerial Leaders Seminary] ), a cooperative effort of the Latin American Mennonite-related churches to train Anabaptist leaders.

The Costa Rican conference is governed by an annual assembly composed of pastors and delegates from each congregation. The executive committee is elected each year during the assembly to carry out the conference program throughout the year. In 1987 in addition to the executive committee, there were eight auxiliary committees that functioned in the following areas: Christian education, evangelism, social services, communications, stewardship, youth, music, and investments. As of March 1987 the Costa Rican conference reported 18 churches with 1,212 baptized members, six ordained ministers, one ordained evangelist, nine licensed ministers, and four lay pastor.

2010 Update

In 2009 the Asociación Convención de Iglesias Menonitas de Costa Rica had 1,470 members in 20 congregations.


Prieto-Valladares, James A. EI proyecto Misionero de la Conferencia Menonita Conservadora en Costa Rica, 1960­1968." Licenciate in Theology thesis, Escuela Ecuménica de Ciencias de la Religion, Facultad de Filosofia Universidad Nacional de Costa Rica, 1985.

Miller, Ivan J. History of the Conservative Mennonite Conference. Grantsville, MD: Ivan J. and Della Miller, 1985: 205-271.

Blutstein, Howard I., et al. Area Handbook for Costa Rica. Washington, DC: The American University, 1970.

Kraybill, Paul N., ed. Mennonite World Handbook. Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1978: 216-217.

Mennonite World Conference. "Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches Worldwide, 2009: Latin America & the Caribbean." 2010. Web. 27 March 2010.

Mennonite World Handbook Supplement. Strasbourg, France, and Lombard, IL: Mennonite World Conference, 1984: 67.

Author(s) James Adrian Prieto-Valladares
Date Published March 2010

Cite This Article

MLA style

Prieto-Valladares, James Adrian. "Convención Evangélica Menonita de Costa Rica." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2010. Web. 19 Sep 2018.

APA style

Prieto-Valladares, James Adrian. (March 2010). Convención Evangélica Menonita de Costa Rica. Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 19 September 2018, from


Adapted by permission of Herald Press, Harrisonburg, Virginia, from Mennonite Encyclopedia, Vol. 5, pp. 204-205. All rights reserved.

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