Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia
(Iglesia Evangelica Metodista en Bolivia. IEMB)
The first Methodist Sunday school was founded in Bolivia in 1891 by a lay preacher. Methodist mission work from the USA began in 1906 when the Bolivian constitution was changed to permit freedom of worship. In 1969 the Evangelical Methodist Church became autonomous and elected its first national bishop. In 1975 a popular movement of the Aymara, representing the majority of church membership, initiated a historical process of change. At an extraordinary session of the fourth general assembly in 1976, three national executive secretaries were elected, responsible for national and international ecumenical relations, for life and mission (including education and promotion of the interests of women), and social services (including rural ministry and health services). The IEMB seeks to deepen the faith of its members and create a commitment to love and justice. It is also committed to the re-evaluation of indigenous cultures.
The EMCB maintains two hospitals and administers five health centres. Its main emphasis today is on promoting public health. Through a formal agreement with the Bolivian government, the church sustains and directs 16 educational centres, with an emphasis on primary, secondary, vocational and adult education. It carries out broad programmes of rural and community development. It supports various ecumenical programmes such as a centre of educational research and a centre of social studies and documentation. The church is part of several human rights organizations. Through seminaries, workshops and encounters with church and community leaders it shares its social commitment for justice.
In August 2006, during the celebrations of 100 years of Methodist witness in Bolivia the Evangelical Methodist Church received the Order of the Condor, the highest honor that can be bestowed by the Republic of Bolivia, in recognition of its social, educational and pastoral work and its solidarity with the social movements in Bolivia.