New Apostolic life in Mexico City: seven congregations, seven Priests

Six metropolises – six continents – six congregations. How do New Apostolic Christians live their faith in the big cities of this world? Today looks at Mexico City.

North America – Mexico – Mexico City

Mexico City is a giant of a city with a population of nine million. The metropolitan area, Greater Mexico City, has an estimated population of more than 20 million, making it one of the largest cities in the world. The Mexicans call their capital el D. F., which stands for distrito federal (“federal district”).

The city is situated at an altitude of 2,240 metres, which is not necessarily an advantage. It has to cope with huge environmental problems. There is air, water, and land pollution. Frequent thermal inversion creates heavy smog, preventing the circulation of air in the city. On top of that the city is also located in an earthquake belt. In 1985 a massive earthquake with a magnitude of 8.1 struck, killing about 45,000 people and leaving 30,000 homeless. The last earthquake hit on 18 April 2014.

The city is situated in the so-called tierra fría (Spanish for “cold land”), a zone of cold climate. The high elevation brings the temperatures down considerably. Day-time temperatures in the winter are fairly warm and range from 20 to 25 °C. Night-time temperatures are markedly cooler. The average annual temperature in the city is about 15.9 °C.

Seven, a sacred number

There are seven New Apostolic congregations in the city, a sacred number. The Esmeralda congregation with its 62 members is the largest. The building is a leased space with a wall of windows that overlooks a beautiful lake. The man that the building is leased from does not charge any money for it, because it is a church and it brings him joy. Because of the expanse of Mexico City, there are several congregations. Some are located outside of the city centre in so-called boroughs such as Cuauhtémoc, Valle Ceylan, Cuernavaca, Puebla, or Irapuato. Most of the buildings where the congregations gather are rented quarters. Only the congregation in Valle Ceylan meets in its own building—well, almost. The building is property of the government, but the Church has the rights to use it. Valle Ceylan is 40 years old and thus the oldest congregation in the federal district. The oldest congregation in the country is Tijuana. The Church was established in Mexico about 45 years ago.

There are seven Priests and two Deacons between the seven congregations. With organists, Sunday School, youth meetings, and other soul care activities the congregations have everything they need.

Big challenges

The crime rate in certain areas poses challenges, District Apostle Leonard Kolb says, who is responsible for the country. And Mexico’s economic situation is making it difficult for the Church’s finances. On the other hand, the people are able to gather for services and activities without much restriction. There is freedom of religion. Also in Mexico there is a tendency for people to step away from established churches and gather in non-denominational congregations.

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Peter Johanning
Mexico, Congregational life, North America