The Evangelical Friends Holiness Church is situated in the city of Chiquimula in the state of the same name in Guatemala. The church began with a group of children in the 1960s, and at that time the group was under the National Friends Church of Guatemala. This was the beginning of what was known as the Second Friends Church in Chiquimula, later becoming the First Friends Holiness Church in Chiquimula.
This new church grew quickly, though there were points in which the leadership of the Yearly Meeting and the founding members of the new church were not in agreement. In 1992, those disputes were resolved when the National Friends Church of Guatemala recognized the Guatemala Evangelical Friends Holiness Yearly Meeting as an independent Yearly Meeting.
Since its foundation, the Yearly Meeting has grown to fifteen churches, all with their own buildings in good condition. Among its ministries are a seminary across the street from the headquarters of the Yearly Meeting (The Quaker Seminary), and a radio ministry (The Truth Radio). Since its beginning, children’s ministry has been an integral part of its ministry and they continue working with children.
On March 13, 2023, the Yearly Meeting Superintendent, Dr. Edgar Amilcar Madrid, sent a letter to Friends United Meeting General Secretary Kelly Kellum requesting membership in FUM. They have been in the process of exploring and praying for this possibility for nearly two years. The decision to request membership has been an exciting move forward, to be part of a larger ministry-oriented denominational body.
Explaining their request for membership, Superintendent Edgar Madrid says, “This is a testament to the strength that the diversity in FUM has brought to its member Yearly Meetings. We want to be part of that! Among the ministries that we are excited about are the Living Letters Program—either being a sending church or receiving Friends. When we ask God for guidance, the possibilities are endless. We pray that we can be part of what God is doing in FUM.”
Throughout its history, the Yearly Meeting has always been independent, and this is the first time it has considered affiliation with a Quaker denominational body. As an unapologetically Christian Quaker body, they feel that FUM can be the place where they can flourish and become part of FUM’s ministries. The Yearly Meeting has observed how the diversity of FUM has strengthened its ministries in Africa. FUM’s African Ministries practice the gospel in a holistic way, from church planting ministries to educating girls to providing health ministry.
According to FUM’s procedures, requests for membership are presented to the Executive Board for consideration and further discernment. In the coming months the Executive Board will be meeting with Yearly Meeting leadership and the General Secretary is planning a visit in October. Once the Executive Board has clarity, a recommendation for approval of their membership is submitted to the General Board. Kelly adds, “I am blessed and humbled by Guatemala Evangelical Friends Holiness Yearly Meeting's request to join the FUM community. As an established Yearly Meeting, they would be a vital partner in strengthening and expanding FUM’s ministries in Belize and other places in Central America and the Caribbean. Already, Guatemalan Friends are envisioning how they can be a support to Friends in Cuba. Please pray for Yearly Meeting and FUM leadership as we learn from one another and discern a way forward.”