ELKHART, Indiana (Mennonite Mission Network) – Quito Mennonite Church's diverse people, including eight nationalities, gathered to dedicate a new church building in Quito on Jan. 28, 2018. The building for Iglesia Cristiana Anabautista Menonita de Ecuador (ICAME) embodied the apostle Paul's description of unity in Christ.
According to UNHCR – the UN Refugee Agency article from 2016, Ecuador has received more than 200,000 refugees, which has directly impacted the ministries and identity of ICAME. The Quito church operates a program in which they interview 100 new families each month, and provide a variety of services, including spiritual and emotional support, plus food and other material assistance. In some cases, funds are provided to help with rent or starting small businesses.
The program also connects refugees with additional services in Quito. The program is run by Ecuadorians with financial assistance from Mennonite Central Committee. The new conference received its Ecuadorian legal status in 2017, and the building will provide dedicated space for offices and ministries, as well as a worship space for the Quito congregation.
Alba Silva, a pastoral team member at Quito Mennonite Church, said that the building was a dream fulfilled, and declared that it would be God's house for anyone who would like to come in. She said, "Its purpose is to proclaim the kingdom of God through justice and peace."
The church was planted through a partnership that includes Iglesia Cristiana Menonita de Colombia (IMCOL), Central Plains Mennonite Conference, and Mennonite Mission Network. The partnership helped with the funding, and gave praise to God with ICAME in celebrating this milestone.
Linda Shelly, director for Latin America at Mennonite Mission Network, recognized the building as an important tool, while also acknowledging that the church is the people. She credited Quito Mennonite Church with living into Galatians 3:28: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus."
"I encourage you as a church to be a community of Christ-centered people who are like family, a body, the upside-down kingdom, and hope for the world," Shelly concluded.
Husband-wife team César Moya and Patricia Urueña began the Mennonite church in Quito in 2001 while serving with Mission Network through the partnership. In Moya's sermon and blessing at the conclusion of the dedication ceremony, he reminded all present that a meeting place should be more than just a beautiful structure. It should be a place where Christ, and his teachings and ethics, are followed, taught and practiced.
"May this new church headquarters … keep alive Jesus' Spirit of inclusiveness," prayed Moya.