Republic of Peru
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The Republic of Peru forms the western crescent of South America. Ecuador, Columbia, Brazil, Bolivia and a small portion of northern Chile share borders with Peru. To the west are thousands of miles of Pacific Ocean. The area of Peru encompasses over 1.25 million sq km (nearly 500,000 sq miles) with a population nearly 30 million, making the population density less than 60 people per square mile. Evidence of human inhabitation in the area is said to reach back ten thousand years. Three thousand years ago Peruvian civilization emerged with advances in irrigation, pottery and textiles. In the 13 th century A.D. the Incas established a great empire that ranged from modern-day Ecuador to central Chile. The Incas built an extensive network of roads, bridges and fine cities, the most famous being Machu Picchu, above the Urubamba Valley. Spaniards entered the area in 1532 lured by a fabled “ Kingdom of Gold,” executed the Incan leader, Atahalpa, enslaved the people and set up their seat of government in Lima. In the 1820s Simon Bolivar defeated Spain and secured independence for Peru despite ensuing revolutions and a second war with Spain 1864-66. Today Peru is a Republic with a single legislative body known as Congress.
Despite serious political trouble in the 1980s that led to the loss of 23,000 lives and $20 billion (US) in damage to the economy (in 1990 hyperinflation hit 7480 percent), in recent years the government has been able to bring about greater stability. For about fifty percent of Peru’s population subsistence farming is the normal way of life. Some cotton, rice and sugar cane are grown in the fertile valleys. The economy is heavily dependent upon copper and petroleum exports. Fishing was formerly a significant part of domestic revenue but warmer ocean currents have diminished the catch of sardines and anchovies. Tourism to places such as Machu Picchu is important.
The religious heritage of Peru is largely the result of centuries of Spanish control. More than 90% of Peruvians are Roman Catholic; the State Religion being Catholicism. The culture revolves around the Catholic Church and that must be taken into account, for the influence is said to run much deeper than theological propositions. The remaining percentage includes Methodists and Anglicans.
The earliest history of the Stone-Campbell Movement in Peru is traced to the activities of pioneer American Churches of Christ missionary Evert Pickartz who distributed tracks from Lima to Tacna in 1958. Three years later, Picartz, who was then serving as a missionary in Chile, sent Oscar Aquilar to establish a church in Lima. This work was financially supported by North Americans living in the Tacna area. In 1962 Glenn and Janice Kramar became the first full-time missionaries from the North American Churches of Christ to work in Peru. They were followed by Bert Perry, Carrol Robertson, Frank Rosch, Dr. Richard High, Hans Dederscheck and others as full-time missionaries as well as a number of short-term workers. At present there are no known missionaries of the American Churches of Christ working in Peru though the Elizabethton, Tennessee church of Christ has been financially supportive of the work.
A number of Peruvians studied the Bible in preacher-training schools in Panama, Mexico and the U.S. and returned to Peru to minister. Some long-term ministries have been Hipolito Zela in the Cuzco area and Jacobo Chalco. Later a preacher training school was established in Lima (see details below). There has been some preaching among the Quechua Indians. In 1990 there were an estimated 31 congregations with 600 members in Peru. By 2003 that number had risen to 46 congregations with a total attendance of about 1,100.
The Christian Churches and Churches of Christ in the United States have had a small influence in Peru through Christian Missionary Fellowship as churches have been planted there as a result of missionary outreach from their work based in Chile.
Clinton J. Holloway
National Profiles Editor
For further historical reference:
Churches of Christ Around the World, Lynn, Mac, 21st Century Christian Publications, Nashville, TN, 2003.
Disciples of Christ Historical Society, 1101 19th Avenue, South, Nashville, TN 37212-2112 (USA)
Telephone: (615) 327-1444
Website: http://www.discipleshistory.org (provides links to other historical sites and databases).
Online catalog: ALEX Online
For online directories of a cappella Churches of Christ see:
EDEM-CAMI Preacher Training School
Calle. Huarmey 1473 Urb. Covida 2da. Etapa
Lima, Lima 01 Peru
Telephone: (511) 522-5958
Christian Missionary Fellowship