May 19: Gilchrist in Chile, part 2

Today we bring you part 2 of Gilchrist in Chile, written by our guest author, the Rev. Dr. Paul R. Gilchrist. Dr. Gilchrist, now retired, served as the second Stated Clerk of the PCA, 1988-1998, and before that, as Stated Clerk of the RPCES, 1971-1982. But Dr. Gilchrist’s story, Gilchrist in Chile, is about his parents, the Rev. George R.M. Gilchrist and his wife, Ruth Sanborne Gilchrist, who were career missionaries in Chile from 1925 until their retirement in 1959, and it is a portion of their story that Dr. Gilchrist will be telling this week.

by Dr. Paul R. Gilchrist, former Stated Clerk of the PCA.

The Presbyterian Church in Chile became concerned about the growing liberalism in the church.  So, by 1939 a group in Valparaiso began to pray for revival in the churches. Another group in the Central Valley organized the Grupo Accion Evangelica (GAE) in which many churches participated.  In Santiago the youth got involved along with the others.  The Secretary of the Mission Board also recommended to the Board and to the Chile Presbytery that they should pray for spiritual revival.

Presbyterio de Chile la Granja, 18 May 1944

But the liberals led by elder Horacio Gonzales and a pastor, becoming alarmed at the movement of the Spirit, opposed this development.  They proposed to the Presbytery a reorganization of their commissions.  The main new commissions were the Federation of Young People, the Women’s League, and Coordinating Commission which replaced the Evangelistic and Religious Education Commission.  There were 18 commissions with 88 people appointed to serve.  But Presbytery named five men (including Horacio Gonzales) who served on the commissions, with 3 or 4 on each of these commissions programs thus controlling them.

At the annual meeting of Presbytery in 1942, the  GAE offered a plan for evangelization  and its cooperation.  However, since the political control considered the GAE a rebellion against the Federation a new committee was named to deal with them.  Nevertheless, The GAE movement spread, so that at the annual meeting in 1943, the Presbytery decided it should be squelched.  The vote was 23 to 10, with 3 abstentions, to “order the GAE as an institution to disband and that its constituency should join the existing organizations of the church.”  The group, however, continued to grow.

Again, in January 1944 the Presbytery turned down a similar proposal from the GAE. But the group continued with planned conferences.  Then on April 25, 1944, the President of the Presbytery sent out a call for “an extraordinary meeting of Chile Presbytery for May 18, 1944.  The docket: 1. The disobedience of two presbyters to the actions of the Honorable Presbytery.  2. The participation of other officials of the church in the activities of the Grupo Accion Evangelica.”  A couple of other items were included.  The two presbyters were a leading evangelical pastor from the church in Talca, Rev Olivero Maufras, and missionary/pastor Rev. George R. M. Gilchrist of the church in Linares.

to be continued Wednesday. . .


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