Puerto Rico is an island in the eastern Caribbean with a population of 3.5 million. It is a U.S. territory so Puerto Ricans are native-born citizens of the U.S. Still reeling from the latest recession, it is the only area of Latin America that is declining in population. It also has the greatest population density in Latin America – the island population is 94% urban. 2.5 million people live in greater San Juan.
There has long been a flow of people back and forth between Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, its neighbor to the west. Some Dominicans come to Puerto Rico as a step towards entering the U.S., others have settled there for several generations.
The Free Methodist Church started among Dominican immigrants and continues to be largely Dominican. There are nine churches, 14 ordained elders and 19 ministerial candidates. It is organized as a Provisional Conference, meaning it has a level of autonomy and is financially self-supporting. The conference includes a church on the island of Antigua.
Superintendent Mercedes Reynoso has led the conference for 18 years. She also pastors the largest church, Barrio Obrero in San Juan. Most of the other churches started as outreaches or daughter churches of the Barrio Obrero church. They minister to all levels of society – doctors, lawyers, social workers, university professors and other professional people worship and minister along side of formerly homeless people and ex-convicts. Many people have been saved and delivered from a life of drugs, prostitution, and gang violence.
Pastora Mercedes and others she has trained are very effective evangelists. They hold evangelistic crusades and have radio, TV and Internet programs that reach the whole island. Crusades have been held in many prisons and detention centers which have resulted in people becoming members and forming groups behind bars.
A Bible Institute offers regular courses for lay leaders and ministerial candidates.
Pastor & Superintendent
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