Argentina--April 2009

I arrived in Argentina on Saturday morning, and took a bus to Rosario, about four and half hours to the north of Buenos Aires on the Paraná River.

On Sunday morning, I met at the hotel with men from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Argentina. I participated in the ordination service of Fabian Maldonado, who is from Resistencia, in the Province of Chaco, some eight hours from here north on the Paraná River. Brother Maldonado had received his instruction through Shepherd Seminary in Buenos Aires and through San Lucas Seminary of the OPC of Argentina. There are now three ordained ministers of the OPC here.

Afterwards, we all went to the morning worship service at San  Andrés OPC here in Rosario. The pastor is Sergio Rojas. During the service a ruling elder was ordained, Luis Azula. Another pastor,  José Senturion, who had originally been ordained in the Evangelical  Presbyterian Church (whose missionaries have been withdrawn, and has ceased to exist in Argentina), was received as a minister emeritus (he is 80 years of age). Others present included Sergio Rodas, and Angel Fernandez (a Toba Indian pastor) who work with San Adrés, Sergio Gamarra and Jorge Galarza, pastors of Monte Horeb Church, who are interested in joining the OPC, and Sergio Navarrete, a pastor who was ordained by the Presbyterian Church of Argentina and presently pastors an independent church. There were also a group of brethren from the Toba presbyterian churches in Rosario, and some other pastors who are not yet presbyterians. Afterwards, we met informally over lunch, and had further discussions at my hotel. Angel Fernandez is translating the Westminster Confession of Faith into Toba, and we will help to publish it when it is ready.

On Monday, I met with pastors of the Mt. Horeb church mentioned above, and they continued to express their interest in joining the opc of Argentina. I then traveled to Buenos Aires. There is at present no opc church or mission in Buenos Aires (which has about half of the population of Argentina) although there are some interested individuals. On Tuesday I met with Carlos Borrini, a presbyterian who would like to see a reformed church in Buenos Aires. This was our second meeting, and he agreed to be the “contact person” for people interested in a reformed church in the city.

On Tuesday, I flew to Mendoza, which is a large city near the border with Chile. There is a conflict between two pastors which I was seeking to mediate. Raúl Mellado is a pastor of the opc of Argentina, but until recently, Juan Pizzolo has been a part of the mission work there. Juan is very talented and well-educated, and seems committed to the reformed faith, but has not been able to work well with Raúl. I had extended discussions with both seeking to reconcile them, but, without much success. I also visited with various members of the mission work there, and with some other pastors and church workers who are not associated with the presbyterian work there. It appears to me that Raúl will continue with the opc of Argentina, and that Juan will establish a separate reformed church. I am still at their disposal to seek reconciliation.

Altogether, the church in Argentina seems to be progressing well, in large part due to the direction and wisdom of José Luís Podestá, the first pastor. They hope soon to organize a presbytery, when they have four pastors and four congregations.

As always, I ask for your prayers for the brothers and sisters there.

Yours in Christ,

Steve Larson

Reports on Visits to Latin America
Church of the Living Lord
of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
Santa Ana, California