Alianza Evangélica Menonita
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|Alianza Evangélica Menonita|
Argentina: World Factbook, 2009
Number of Congregations
Alianza Evangélica Menonita de Boulogne or the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church in Argentina, is an Anabaptist church in the city of Buenos Aires that identifies itself with the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church.
- 1 History
- 2 Present challenges
- 3 Identification within the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition
- 4 Future of Alianza Evangélica Menonita
- 5 Key Individuals in the Alianza Evangélica Menonita de Boulogne church
- 6 Electronic Resources
- 7 Citations
- 8 Acknowledgments
The members of the church, “Alianza Evangelica Menonita” in Buenos Aires, Argentina are the descendants of Mennonites from Russian and Germany migrating to South America escaping war and on the Dutch made ship the “Volendam” (Online interview with member of “Alianza Evangelica Menonita de Boulogne” Church. Received April 14, 2011). In 1947, C. F. Klassen, a representative for Mennonite Central Committee in Europe organized a trip that would transport eventually 2,306 Mennonites to South America. The ship picked up Russian Mennonite refugees at Rotterdam, Netherlands, Bremerhaven Netherlands and a large group of 1100 that escaped the Russian controlled portion of Berlin to sail for South America February 1, 1947 (Bos). When the ship arrived in Buenos Aires the group of refugees who had originally planned to move onto the Mennonite colonies in Paraguay were forced to stay in Buenos Aires until the war ended because of a revolution taking place in Paraguay (Fretz, 196). While there, many Mennonites who had moved to Buenos Aires from Paraguay previously, offered the refugees from the Volendam jobs in Buenos Aires and 162 of those from the Volendam decided to remain in there to try to make a living (Fretz, 196). The Church was later founded by Martin Durksen with the help of MCC, where he pastured there from 1950 to 1963 (Huebert). In 1963, the church became independent and after being not able to join the Mennonite Brethren Conference or Mennonite Conference they joined the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Church in Filadelfia, Paraguay (“Minutes of the South American E.M.B. Conference”. 1984 Annual report of the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Conference. 1984).
|1947||– In 1947 C. F. Klassen an MCC Representative in Europe organizes journey for Russian and German Mennonites on the Dutch made ship the Volendam from Europe to Buenos Aires, Argentina and eventually Paraguay. On January 28, 1947 the Volendam picks up 650 Mennonite refugees at Rotterdam, Netherlands, and later 450 Mennonites from a refugee camp in Gronau, Germany at Bremerhaven, Netherlands. On February 1, 1947 after waiting in Berlin Germany for about 1100 Russian Mennonites fleeing Russian occupied in Germany, the Volendom sails for Buenos Aires on February 1, 1947 (Bos). Upon Arrival to Buenos Aires, those on board of the ship are not allowed to go on to Paraguay because of Military Coup (Durksen).>/|
|1948||Russian Mennonite refugees from the ship the Volendam are allowed into Paraguay. 162 stay to make a living in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Bos).|
|1949||Martin Durksen, with support from MCC, becomes pastor and founds the “Alianza Evangelical Menonita” church (“Deaths: Martin Durksen”…).|
|1950-1963||Martin Durksen’s term as pastor at “Alianza Evangelical Menonita” Church in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Huebert).|
|1952||First children of Russian Mennonite refugees are baptized by Nelson Litwiller at the MCC center in Buenos Aires, Argentina (Fretz, 197).|
|1955||Military Coup of all three branches takes place in Argentina, finally expelling President Peron from power (“Timeline: Argentina”…).|
|1962||In 1962 construction of meeting house for the “Alianza Evangelical Menonita” church is complete. MCC ends its involvement with church (Durksen).|
|1963||The Alianza Evangelica Menonita church becomes independent and is in search of a conference to join. Later in 1963, the church decides to join the Evangelical Mennonite Brethren church in Filadelfia, Paraguay (“Minutes of the South American E.M.B. Conference”…).|
|1973||President Peron returns to power after the resignation of President Hector Campora (“Timeline: Argentina”…).|
|1975||Inflation rate in Argentina hits 300% (“Timeline: Argentina”…).|
|1983||Inflation rate in Argentina running about 900% (“Timeline: Argentina”…).|
|2001-2002||Heavy political and economic upheavals take place in Argentina, adding to inflation in Argentina for years to come (Schweimler).|
|2006||The presiding officer for Alianza Evangelica Menonita is Alberto Klassen, the membership is 48 in one congregation (“Mennonite and Brethren in Christ World Directory 2006”…).|
One of the challenges that “Alianza Evangelica Menonita” will face in the upcoming years includes a dwindling membership. The church membership has been including less and less followers in its membership over the years. According to the Mennonite directory of 1993, Alianza Evangelica Menonita had 3 congregations with up to as many as 80 members (“Mennonite and Brethren in Christ World Directory 1994”…). Later the Mennonite directory for the year 2000 reported similar numbers with 3 congregations with 77 members (“Mennonite and Brethren in Christ World Directory 2000”…). Then by 2006 the Mennonite directory reports the church to have 1 congregation with 48 members (“Mennonite and Brethren in Christ World Directory 2006”…). The lowering membership has been attributed to emigration from the country to Canada. (Kraybill, Paul N. Mennonite World Handbook 1984 Supplement: A Survey of Mennonite and Brethren in Christ Churches…). This emigration may be due in part to economic and political upheavals in Argentina (Durksen).
During the past 50 years Argentina has suffered from a high inflation rate, at one time in 1983 having up to as much as 900% (“Timeline: Argentina”…). Currently the inflation rate is claimed by the Argentina government to be 10% but some economists claim that it is as high as 25% to 30%, which would make it one of the highest in the world (Schweimler). The Economy Minister Amado Boudou of Argentina has claimed that the inflation is no problem and government has it under control, as where many believe that the high inflation rate will affect the poor because of the price of food (Schweimler). Economy may be a big reason for the decreasing membership of the “Alianza Evangelica Menonita” Church.
Identification within the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition
Members of the “Alianza Evangelica Menonita” church still identify themselves with the Anabaptist/Mennonite tradition, and many would still consider themselves to be Mennonite (Fretz, 197). They still a line with many of the core values of the early Anabaptists of the sixteenth century. Some values in particular include their belief in God and his son Jesus Christ who came to earth save the people of the world from their sins and that most importantly they hold the Bible as the only truth (Online interview with member of “Alianza Evangelica Menonita de Boulogne” Church. Received April 14, 2011). Concerning their interactions with other Anabaptist groups, they are a part of the South American Evangelical Mennonite Brethren Conference along with Filadelfia, Paraguay and later merged with The E.M.B. of North America (“Minutes of the South American E.M.B. Conference”…). Also the church has formed a Spanish speaking church in Delviso, near Buenos Aires, Argentina (Durksen).
Future of Alianza Evangélica Menonita
The future of the “Alianza Evangelica Menonita” church for the next 5 to 10 years is indefinite. Though membership has been declining over the years, the church is staying connected to its roots while at the same time opening up to the greater Buenos Aires community. Because of the formal switch from the German Language to the Spanish language, other members from the community have been able join the church (Online interview with member of “Alianza Evangelica Menonita de Boulogne” Church. Received April 14, 2011). The church still has a core of practicing members and a web page on the internet which provides a space to learn about the church and current events (“Alianza Evangelica Menonita de Boulogne” Web. April 17, 2011. http://www.iemeb.com.ar/). For the immediate future the church will have to deal with the issue of membership; the outcome for the next 50 to 75 years is even harder to tell.
Key Individuals in the Alianza Evangélica Menonita de Boulogne church
- Alberto Klassen - Presiding Officer in 2006
- "Argentina," CIA World Factbook. https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/AR.html (accessed 22 June 2009).
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Billy Funk compiled much of the information presented here in a student research paper for a spring 2011 Anabaptist Mennonite History Class at Goshen College.