MEDELLIN, COLOMBIA (July 26, 2013) – Members of Covenant churches from throughout Latin and North America are celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of La Confraternidad de Iglesias del Pacto Evangelico de Iberoamerica (CIPE) by focusing on the theme “We Are MORE Planting Churches Together.”
The triennial international gathering CIPE IX started Monday and will conclude Saturday. One hundred and ten people are attending.
CIPE includes churches in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, and the Ministry of Hispanic Covenant Churches in the United States (MHIPE) as well as associate members in Uruguay and Spain.
In 2012, CIPE kicked off its 100x100x100 initiative, which aims to plant 100 churches with 100 church planters and 100 partners in the next five years. So far, they have planted 36 churches.
At the end of the opening worship service, about half the attendees came forward for prayer asking God to use them in the planting of new churches, said Baxter Swenson, co-director of missionary personnel for the Department of World Mission.
Dave and Wendy Mark, regional coordinators for Latin America and the Caribbean, were honored for their years of missionary service. They are stepping away from their position in January.
The couple succeeding the Marks, Eugenio and Pia Restrepo, were officially introduced. They will begin their duties in January.
In a previous Covenant News Service story on their new call, Pia said being introduced at the meeting is “coming full circle for us.” They are Colombia natives who together planted a church in Medellín. The couple has served as long-term missionaries to Spain since they were commissioned in 1996.
Guests to the conference include Covenant President Gary Walter and his wife, Nancy; World Mission Executive Minister Curt Peterson and his wife, Martie; and co-director of missionary personnel Margie Swenson. Also attending is Bertil Swenson, general secretary of the former Covenant Church of Sweden and currently international coordinator of the United Church of Sweden, as well as Francisco Portillo, general secretary of the International Federation of Free Evangelical Churches and General Secretary of the Federation of Independent Evangelical Churches of Spain.
Workshop presenters have included Robert Hubbard, retired North Park Theological Seminary professor; and Ed Delgado, president of Centro Hispano de Estudios Teológicos (CHET).
The CIPE Board met during the weekend prior to the conference. It includes representatives of the six member countries and the presidents of each: Ivan Carrasco of Argentina, Darwin Mora of Chile, Javier Gomez of Colombia, Henry Burbano of Ecuador, Gamaliel Adame of Mexico, and Samuel Galdamez of MHIPE.
The ministers then preached in churches throughout Medellín following the CIPE Board meeting.