Néstor Peñaranda

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Néstor Peñaranda

Post by Ian »

mom's grandfather, nestor peñaranda, was a methodist minister. so far i've found him referenced in:

1. encyclopedia of world methodism, vol. ii, 1974 (pages 1876-1877)
2. history of methodist missions, vol. iv, 1973 (chapter 6 and chapter 32)

here's a summary based on the sources cited above:

nestor peñaranda was born in la paz, bolivia. his catholic baptism was recorded four days after his birth, in 1889. at some point, apparently as a young man, he converted to the methodist faith.

methodist missionary work began in bolivia in 1901. the work was dangerous at that time because it was illegal for protestants to preach in public. the bolivian constitution of 1826 recognized catholicism as the official state religion, and banned the public exercise of any other religion. furthermore, the national penal code stated: “All who conspire directly to establish another religion in Bolivia, or to cause the Republic to cease professing the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion, are traitors and will suffer the penalty of death.”

despite these laws, some government officials granted licenses to protestant missionaries, which allowed missionary work to move forward despite opposition from the catholic church. in 1906, the bolivian constitution was amended to remove the ban on public exercise of non-catholic worship. in 1907, the section of the penal code regarding a state religion was revoked. from that time on, methodist missionary work slowly expanded in bolivia. the government negotiated with methodists for the development of a state-sponsored educational program. with government funds, the methodist church began organizing and staffing schools in bolivia.

by 1914, nestor peñaranda was a methodist probationer (a minister in training), preaching in the town of chulumani. in 1916, peñaranda was accepted into the first bolivian missionary conference of the methodist church. he may have been the first native bolivian methodist minister. he studied the aymará language so that he could preach to the indians. in 1917, he began preaching in a mining community called corocoro. by 1921, he was preaching at a mission center located in the los andes section on the outskirts of la paz, which was accessible to indian families. in 1923, peñaranda assumed leadership of the congregation that became known as los andes church (la iglesia de los andes), which was the center of methodist missionary work to the indians in bolivia. a school was founded there, which is still in operation (it is now known as “el instituto americano néstor peñaranda”).

in 1927, peñaranda was appointed superintendent of indian work and superintendent of the la paz district. he conducted missionary work throughout bolivia, often accompanied by an american doctor named frank s. beck. apparently they shared many interesting experiences. for instance, in 1929, the two missionaries were arrested by the mayor of a village called camata. the local priest and about twenty others were called in to testify against them. their motorcycle was taken and the rear tire was cut with a piece of glass. the priest was yelling to the people, “let us kill these protestants.” finally the judge arrived and let the missionaries go.

in 1939, peñaranda was still the pastor of los andes church. the church had grown to 250 probationers and 250 full members. with another man, he had translated the four gospels of the new testament and the book of acts from spanish into aymará, and he compiled an aymará hymnbook. he retired from the ministry in 1948 but continued working in retirement. we believe that he died in 1969, in la paz.

one of his daughters (aida) wrote a book about his life, called “el apostol del los andes.” we have copies of the book. it was written in spanish, so we should summarize it in english sometime.
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Re: Néstor Peñaranda

Post by Lily »

Thank you, Ian. I really loved reading this!
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