Presbyterian Church of Colombia
(Iglesia Presbiteriana de Colombia, IPC)
The first Presbyterian missionary came to Colombia in 1856, sent by the board of foreign missions of what is now the Presbyterian Church (USA). Over the years congregations were established in the main cities and in rural areas, so that the church spread over a large part of the country.
In 1937 the synod of the Presbyterian Church of Colombia was reorganized, with three presbyteries, in the north, the centre and the south. This was the beginning of the process by which the church became autonomous and independent of any foreign entity. In accordance with the law on religious liberty the IPC is officially recognized by the state of Colombia.
In a statement and confession of faith approved in 1998, the church declares that its mission is based on faithfulness to the Bible and the contextual and historical interpretation of the Word. It believes that announcing the gospel in a context of violence, death and destruction of life, means proclaiming the transforming hope in the person of Jesus and the invitation to repentance and true life. The church, together with the community, is called to promote forms of individual and community life which proclaim and affirm the faith, hope and love which reconcile and heal human relations, transcendentally and with the creation, and nurture, reconstruct and give direction to the creativity and potential of the human being to the honour and glory of God. It must be a community of faith which restores life, encourages fellowship and gives praise to God. The community of faith must reflect the unity of the Trinity: making it possible to know God as creator, sustainer and liberator, Jesus Christ as Saviour who transforms the old and meaningless into new life, and the Holy Spirit, the presence of the risen Christ gives power and strength to the church to carry out its calling and ministry.
The IPC has a mission plan which directs all its projects and activities at the level of the presbyteries and the synod. It includes evangelism, education, diakonia, building the life of the church, and stewardship. Since 1982 the church has its own theological seminary, which is now part of the newly-created Reformed University, the first Protestant institute of higher education in Colombia. Those who prepare for the ministry study at the university, while the church continues a decentralized programme of theological formation for lay people, coordinated in each of the three regions by a pastor specialized in theological education.