FUM Visits Ciudad Victoria

On November 27, 2023, Iglesia de Los Amigos Ciudad Victoria celebrated their 150th anniversary. It was a time of joyful celebration and sorrow as they remembered many of their ancestors that are no longer among us. During the service, the youngest family member went up to share how many generations their family had been in the church. Most of the church had been members for three to five generations. There were many tears among the attenders as they remembered their great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles praying in that sanctuary, or weddings, funerals, and baby dedications.

The oldest member, Bertha Vazquez Cruz, 91, told of her childhood memories of the church, such as her sweet fifteen celebration in the church. There was also laughter when members remembered their Sunday school classes, playing in church, and falling asleep during the church services. This was the first time back in the church building since the pandemic began for several of the church members. Many members renewed their commitment to the church and to work to seek God’s guidance to build the future of their church.

They also remembered the first missionaries, Samuel and Gulielma Purdie, from Indiana Yearly Meeting. During the celebration ceremony, they read their first business meeting minute, dated May 10, 1889, in which they decided to establish the Friends Church in Ciudad Victoria. Iglesia de Los Amigos in Ciudad Victoria was the second established church after the Catholic Church in that city, and their church building is considered part of the historical heritage of Mexico. They are also the oldest Quaker Church in a Spanish-speaking country. They also remembered Juan Sierra from Cuba Yearly Meeting who pastored in the late 70s and Hugo Cardona from Guatemala Yearly Meeting who also pastored in the 70s. They remember their history and were grateful for it but are also hopeful for the future.

Iglesia de Los Amigos Ciudad Victoria is in the capital city in the state of Tamaulipas, Mexico. Surrounded by beautiful mountains called La Sierra Madre, and in a very desirable location in the city, they have a vibrant youth group, and their church is an especially important part of their everyday lives.Among the visitors attending the anniversary celebration were Karen Gregorio de Calderon from Iglesia Amigos de Santidad Junta Annual Guatemala (Friends Holiness Church Guatemala Yearly Meeting), representing Friends World Committee for Consultation as Latin America coordinator; Carlos Moran from Iglesia Amigos de Indianapolis, representing Indiana Yearly Meeting, who was also the preacher for the celebration; Pastor Horacio Peña García of sister church Iglesia de Los Amigos de San Nicolas de Los Garza, and who is also an adopted descendant of the Purdies; and  many church members that no longer live in Ciudad Victoria and local guests from other denominations.

Friends United Meeting was represented by Global Ministries Coordinator Karla Jay. Karla’s visit was not only an addition to the celebration, but also an opportunity to explore ways in which Ciudad Victoria could become more connected to Friends United Meeting. Their vision is to build a solid foundation so that future generations can celebrate their 300th anniversary. As one of only two FUM churches in Mexico they have felt isolated, and they hope to strengthen their relationship with the rest of FUM, as well as to continue being light in their city. Among their plans is to hire a pastor with a solid Quaker background, remodel the parsonage, and to begin a community outreach project.They ask the FUM global community to pray for them as they embark on a new chapter of their history.