LA IGLESIA ANGLICANA DE LA REGION CENTRAL DE AMERICA (IARCA)
The origins of the Episcopal Churches in Central America and Panama, which date back to 18th
century, are based fundamentally on the Church of England and the Episcopal Church in the
United States of America, developed as follows:
England administered two colonies in Central America: Belize (1783-1982), and the Miskitia
(1740-1894), which were mainly located in the region of Nicaragua and Honduras.
The natives of these islands were first evangelized by the Church of England through the
missionary societies, specially the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel (SPG). By 1742 the
SPG sent the first lay missionary to the Nicaraguan Miskitia. However, the Church of England
was unable to comprehend the difference between evangelization and cultural imposition. Thus,
it failed to evangelize the Miskitia culture. By 1848, due to the commercialization of wood and
bananas, cheap Afro-Antillean labor was brought to the region primarily from Jamaica. In 1896,
the Bishop of Belize laid the cornerstone of the first Anglican Church, St. Mark’s Church, in
During the XIX century and into the beginning of the XX century, as the principal lender to the
Central American countries, England exerted strong economic influence in the region.
Consequently, many English businessmen came to Central America and chaplaincies were
established to serve the spiritual lives of the entrepreneurs and diplomats. In 1867 the Iglesia de
Cristo was established in Guatemala in the British Consulate and its chaplain was even part of
the diplomatic staff. In Costa Rica a treaty between the government and England allowed for
jurisdiction of the chaplaincies in Honduras, Guatemala, and El Salvador was transferred from
the Church of England to the Episcopal Church USA. In this way, in 1957 the Missionary
District of the Episcopal Church in Central America was created with the Churches in
Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica. David E. Richards was its first Bishop. He
resided in Costa Rica.
Until this point in time, the Anglican/Episcopal presence in Central America resided in the
chaplaincies that served the immigrants and their descendents from the West Indies. These
churches were strong in Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. No
evangelization emphasis to the natives in Central America existed, and there was no interest to
create national and local churches which took into consideration the cultural factor.
Supported by Lambeth 1958 and 1968, serious efforts were made in Central America to change
from the system of chaplaincy (foreigner in a foreign land) to that of an indigenous, national,
autochthonous church. Consequently, in 1967 the missionary dioceses of Guatemala, Honduras,
El Salvador, Nicaragua and Costa Rica were created with the purpose of spreading the Kingdom
of God in each nation and revealing the Anglican spirit in the local culture, as well as forming an
From that moment on the Episcopal Church in Central America tried to become incarnate into
the local situation, to inculturate itself into each Central American country. It did not want to
continue being the U.S. Episcopal Church in Central America, but the Episcopal Church of El
Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua,Costa Rica, and Panama.
In 1964, by action of the General Convention, Province IX of the Episcopal Church was created,
and the dioceses of Central America became part of it. The Provincial Synod of Panama, in 1981,
brought forward the autonomy theme as the goal for Province IX so that the component
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