In Guatemala, a celebration 50 years in the making

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In Guatemala, a celebration 50 years in the making: The Pan American Lectureship returns to the Central American capital where it started in 1963 (reporting from Guatemala City). Currents.

GUATEMALA CITY — Fifty years ago, the Pan American Lectureship was launched in this Central American capital to focus attention on fledgling Latin American missions.

Just a few years before, Jerry and Ann Hill and their two young daughters drove a 1955 Chevrolet 210 station wagon all the way from Pleasanton, Texas — becoming the first Church of Christ missionaries between northern Mexico and the Panama Canal Zone.

The Hills — the first of a team of missionaries who came to share Christ with this nation known for earthquakes, guerrilla warfare and its deep Mayan roots — arrived in 1959.

“The oldest Churches of Christ in Mexico were only about 20 years old,” the late Jerry Hill wrote in “Guatemala: Joy and Crown,” his 2011 autobiography. “The oldest church in South America was seven years old. There were no known churches in Central America.”

Fast-forward to a recent Sunday: The Pan American Lectureship celebrated its half-century milestone by returning to this sprawling metropolis of 3 million people where it began in 1963.

To mark the occasion, busloads of Guatemala’s faithful came together for a joint worship assembly — some traveling hours from remote rural areas.

Ann Hill, now 81, sat on the front row of a national convention hall the size of a U.S. football field, barely able to contain her emotions.

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2013: The year in quotes. Currents.

This post highlights my stories in the January 2014 print edition of The Christian Chronicle.