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Anglican Church in Mexico

 

The Episcopal/Anglican Church in Mexico is the oldest non-Roman Catholic Church in the country. During the reforms carried out under the government of Benito Juarez, a religious movement began in 1865 with the aim of establishing an independent Mexican Church in the Catholic tradition. This body later became known as the Iglesia de Jesús. By 1869, Henry C. Riley, an American priest of the Episcopal Church who had been born in Chile, was called to assist the nascent church. At around the same time, the Church of San José de Gracia, originally a convent church of the Dominicans, was acquired as a worship space for the congregation. It continues today as the Cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Mexico.

 

By 1875, the Iglesia de Jesús (“Church of Jesus”) counted over fifty congregations, many in remote rural villages. Unfortunately, for lack of strong central leadership, the Church foundered for some years. Eventually, an American priest was consecrated as Missionary Bishop for the Mexican Church, and by 1904 what had begun as an independent and self-governing native Church united with English-speaking churches that had been established to minister to Americans and British who had come to Mexico to work in the oil fields, the mines, and the railroads. One observer noted in 1906 that “It was a unique sight to see Mexicans, Indians, British, and Americans working as one in the cause of the Lord and His Church.” Within a short time the Bishop reported 72 congregations in Mexico, plus schools, an orphanage, a medical center, and a theological seminary.

 

Things changed with the disruptions of the Mexican Revolution, which broke out in 1910. By 1915 nearly all foreigners had left the country, and out of thirty English-speaking congregations, only Christ Church was left. By the time a partial peace was restored and a new political Constitution was drawn up in 1917, many congregations had scattered and buildings had been destroyed. The Church faced a time of opposition and difficulty due to the government restrictions on all religious bodies during this time. The Church persevered under the leadership of two bishops who were ordained by the US Episcopal Church, the Rt. Rev. Henry D. Aves, and later the Rt. Rev. Frank Creighton.

 

In 1931, the first native Mexican was elected bishop of Mexico. The Rt. Rev. Efrain Salinas y Velasco, a scholar, educator, and able administrator served until his retirement in 1957. The consecration of his successor, the Rt. Rev. José G. Saucedo in 1958 marked the first consecration of an Anglican bishop on Mexican soil. Bishop Saucedo’s goal was to lead the Mexican Episcopal Church to be an independent Church of the Anglican Communion. During Bishop Saucedo’s ministry the church grew to five Dioceses, a new Spanish language Prayer Book was published, and a new hymnal was produced. In 1982, the first woman was ordained in the Church of Mexico.

 

Bishop Saucedo’s dream was achieved in 1995, when The Anglican Church of Mexico was constituted as a new and fully autonomous (self-governing) province of the world-wide Anglican Communion. The Rt. Rev. Carlos Touché Porter recently retired as bishop of the Diocese of Mexico; the Standing Committee of the Diocese is considering candidates for the election to succeed him. The Primate (Archbishop) of the Anglican Church of Mexico is the Rt. Rev. Francisco Moreno, Bishop of Northern Mexico, whose see is in Monterrey, Nuevo Leon.