CUIABA, Brazil

The centennial of the evangelical presence among the indigenous peoples of Brazil was celebrated at the 7th National Council of Evangelical Indigenous Pastors and Leaders, July 18-22 in Chapada dos Guimaraes, 65 kilometers from here.

In 1912, U.S. missionaries John Hay and Henrique Whittington traveled on horseback from Asuncion to explore the territories on the Brazilian side of the border and to work with the indigenous peoples.

In 1913, Henrique and his family settled in Bananal, working among the Terena people, establishing schools, and founding the first evangelical indigenous church in Brazil on Dec. 31, 1915.

Today, the Missionary Union of Indigenous Evangelicals of South America (UNIEDAS), successor of that first missionary endeavor, contains 34 churches, most of them found in Mato Grosso do Sul, but with others in Mato Grosso, Rondonia and Sao Paulo.

More than 4,000 people live in the Taunay Indigenous Territory. According to Pastor Ricardo Poquiviqui Terena, executive secretary of UNIEDAS, “the indigenous churches have been contributing to the evangelization among their own relatives.”