The Free Methodist Church in Mexico formed a provisional general conference and selected a new leader during a gathering of praise and celebration Sept. 23–25 at Rancho Betania in Santa Ana, Sonora.
Free Methodist ministry has taken place in Mexico for approximately 95 years. The Mexican church officially formed in the early 1930s and has remained under the authority of the denomination’s bishops in the United States. At the provisional general conference in September, delegates elected Superintendent Rosario Castro as the church’s first suffragan bishop.
“I want to thank you for this great distinction. This is a great responsibility that I have been given today. I want to tell you that I am in the hands of the Lord and that I want to serve Him,” Castro said. “Just as Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:15, ‘So I will very gladly spend for you everything I have and expend myself as well for the love of souls.’”
After being named suffragan bishop, Castro and his wife, Linda, spontaneously led the gathering in a gospel song.
Bishop David Roller — who served for 17 years as a missionary in Mexico — said he was privileged to chair the provisional general conference, and he appreciated the participation of fellow Free Methodist Church – USA Bishops Matthew Thomas and David Kendall along with Free Methodist World Missions Latin America Area Director Delia Nüesch-Olver.
“The adult membership of this new conference is 3,298, and they have well over the required 20 elders in their four conferences,” Roller said.
According to the denomination’s Book of Discipline, “One or more annual conferences may petition the general conference to which they belong for status as a provisional general conference. This intermediate developmental stage provides for the mentoring of indigenous leaders who appreciate the interdependent nature of the international church with its systems of mutual dependence and accountability and who will grow by exercising gifts, graces and authority under the leadership of the sponsoring general conference and its bishop.
“A provisional general conference receives a measure of jurisdictional authority and autonomy to develop unique mission and vision statements, and to interpret and apply the Book of Discipline within its culture under the leadership of its suffragan bishop as it carries out the mission of the church.”
The three-day gathering featured powerful worship and sermons by the FMCUSA bishops. Thomas said we must begin with God as our foundation.
“A mindset of harvest starts when we have the right view of God,” Thomas said.
In another sermon, he shared that some Christians ask God to take them back to great experiences of the past, but that’s not what God does.
“Even when we’re suffering, do you think God could do more than we could imagine?” Thomas asked. “He does not want to take us back. He wants to take us deeper, further in, to experience more than we’ve ever experienced before — in fact, more than we could ever even speak about.”
Kendall encouraged the Mexican Free Methodists to continue following the scriptural emphasis of Methodist founder John Wesley.
“Free Methodists aspire to be a people of the book, and the book is the Bible,” Kendall said. “The Bible is the basis for how we think, what we believe and how we live our lives.”
Giselle Gutierrez — the associate pastor and missions leader of Congregación Candelero de Dios in Lynn, Massachusetts — translated for Bishops Kendall and Thomas.