International (Global Partners – Venezuela)

First Christian is a participant in a vibrant, regional ministry partnership with the people of Venezuela in conjunction with a program called Global Partners.  Global Partners is a partnership between the Rocky Mountain Conference United Church of Christ (UCC), the Rocky Mountain Disciples of Christ (DOC) and the Evangelical United Pentecostal Church of Venezuela (UEPV). As far as we know, we are the only Partnership through Common Global Ministries wherein the UCC and DOC work together with a third partner. Together we represent about 200 churches in western Venezuela, Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming.

The membership of each of the three partner denominations have committed to:

  • Working together to share God’s love but not trying to change each other theologically.
  • Planning and working on projects together.
  • Exchanging people and sharing resources.
  • Supporting each other through social, political and spiritual challenges.

Our exchanges began slowly with limited numbers on visiting teams. Our teams still only take about 10 individuals in order not to create a hardship for our hosts in Venezuela. When they come here their numbers are limited because of the increasing problem of obtaining visitor visas since 9/11.  The purpose of these trips is to provide cultural exchanges between the Rocky Mountain Conference/Region of the United Church of Christ and the Disciples of Christ and our partners in Venezuela- The United Evangelical Pentecostal Church- and to support one another in our spiritual journeys as we seek peace and justice in our world. Each trip is centered on a project; however the process of relationship building is more important than what we do.

History of the Partnership

The Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela is an independent, autonomous, “grass-roots” church, expressing its faith in the popular culture of Venezuela. Like other Pentecostal churches, it believes in and practices the gifts of the spirit as they are manifested in its members. It is strongly committed to ecumenicity and social justice. The American missionary Federico Bender, who had an ecumenical vision of a Pentecostalism free from foreign influence, concerned for the poor and centered in Biblical education, founded the movement in 1914. In 1940, it became affiliated with the Assemblies of God, but soon a number of local pastors, led by the Rev. Exeario Sosa, strongly disagreed with the flood of new U.S. missionaries sent by that church. Their commitment to ecumenism, social justice and a indigenous Venezuelan Pentecostalism led them to break withthe Assemblies of God, and in 1957 they formed the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela (UEPV). In 1965, the UEPV entered into a partnership with the Christian Church, Disciples of Christ which over the years has sent a number of missionaries to work in Venezuela. With the merger of the global boards of the DOC

and the United Church of Christ, the UCC also became a UEPV partner. In 1978, the UEPV joined the Latin American Council of Churches, an affiliate of the World Council of Churches.

To learn more about this exciting international partnership, go to:

www.rmcucc.org/outreach/globalpartners.htm