The Presbyterian Church In Belize
WHO WE ARE?
GET TO KNOW US
The Presbyterian Church In Belize (P.C.B.) is a Christian Presbyterian organization in Belize.
In the 1950's, the Presbyterian Church in Mexico also came with a dream - to create a missionary outreach to the Mayan people in northern British Honduras. Together the Presbyterian Church put down its first roots in what is known as Belize today. In January of 1958, the Presbyterian church of Mexico through the Presbytery of Mayab authorized a venture that would give rise to the Mayan Presbyterian churches in the northern districts of Belize. The man chosen for this task was Don Manuel Beltran - already 65 years of age. He was a man with no formal education. He taught himself to read and write after coming to Christ. Many of the Bible passages he knew by heart. The secret of Don Manuel’s success was his firm conviction that there was no barrier that could not be breached by prayer. Don Manuel had a great missionary heart! In those early years he would cross the Rio Hondo, the border with Mexico by boat, near Patchakan, because there was no bridge.
The story of the Presbyterian Church of Belize (PCB) spans the last seven decades. In broad strokes, it is the story of determined outreach, the acceptance of the Good News, church conflict, defeated fatigue and rejuvenation. The Presbyterian story in Belize began way back in the 1850’s when Scottish settlers came to British Honduras with a dream to build a church in Belize City. In the 1950's, the Presbyterian Church in Mexico also came with a dream - to create a missionary outreach to the Mayan people in northern British Honduras. Together the Presbyterian Church put down its first roots in what is known as Belize today.
It was around this time that God opened the door for contacts with the St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in Belize City.
The session of St. Andrew’s gave their full support to this ministry, and at least one man, the clerk of the session, Mr. J. Wilson McMillan, became personally involved in the work. Mr. “Mac” was a member of the colonial government, and as a result it was possible for him to arrange for Don Manuel to obtain a permanent visa, authorizing him to live and work in the colony, even though Belize had officially closed its doors to further missionary work a year earlier. He maintained his residence in Chetumal, a city on the Mexican side, and would cross the border to continue his ministry work. In his first year of working in Belize, Don Manuel visited over thirty villages – mostly on foot. The next two decades of the 60’s and 70’s saw seedlings grow into saplings and beyond. The Good News had found a nurturing place in people’s hearts. It was time to build places of worship. The believers of Cristo Rey were organized into a church in May of 1970 with three elders and two deacons. A small Mayan style building was constructed for worship. It wasn’t until October, 1970 that a missionary couple from the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), Tom and Helen Lacey, moved to the area to assist in the spreading of the gospel and the development of church plants. By this time the work in the Orange Walk District was growing and Rev. David Legters of Merida, who was coordinating this work (under the Mayab Presbytery of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico), saw the need for someone to bring organization and to preserve the work begun by Don Manuel. In 1975, another church begun in the village of Patchakan with help from Trinity (PCA) Church in Jackson, Mississippi, U.S.A.
With the continued financial support of Presbyterian churches in the USA, the 1980’s and 90’s were an exciting time of church expansion. Congregations grew and they reached out to their neighboring villages and in Belize City. Planting missionary outposts soon became church buildings and dedicated congregants. The harvest field was golden and ripe. It seemed that the rich blessings of God’s favor flowed full. By 1987, the phenomenal growth of church plantings gave rise to the creation of the Presbyterian Church in Belize (PCB). Don Manuel had gathered another group of believers in the village of San Jose. In those years, Tom Lacey went to preach in the afternoons while Helen Lacey worked to establish Sunday schools in the various villages where churches were being established. Near the village of San Jose and San Pablo, there were another group of believers.
Joined by representatives of the Presbyterian Church of Mexico, 17 Presbyterian churches or churches plants spread across the country. It was also during this time, that a dream to create schools alongside the churches started to blossom. In the mid-70s, Tom and Helen Lacey opened the first Presbyterian Day School (PDS) in the village of Cristo Rey - the oldest of the Presbyterian schools.
It also served children from Patchakan. The intent was to teach a different world and life view, acknowledging the God of the Bible as the Creator and Maker of all things. In the period between 1984 and1987 two leaders, Rafael Ku and Moises Chan, received scholarships to attend Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan and Jackson Mississippi (U.S.A).
As the Presbyterian work continued to grow, the need of forming a Presbytery in Belize arose. The churches in the northern part of the country had been members of the Presbyterio del Caribe of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico for seventeen years. Those ties were broken in 1986, as work progressed towards a national church. The established churches at the time included Betel, SantaTrinidad, St. Andrews, San Pablo, and San Narciso. On June 7, 1987 the Presbyterian Church in Belize was formed.
This backdrop provided the structure for the encouragement and training of future leadership, whether in a church or an educational setting. In 2004, the Belize Presbyterian Theological Seminary was established to train local pastors for leadership in its churches. There were four pastors after the National church was organized but only one of them, Rafael Ku was Belizean. This situation continued for several years and in 2011 an evaluation of the Church vision was undertaken leading to a change in leadership - local leaders stepped up to take responsibility. A year later a National Executive Committee of Presbytery was formed. Today, there are four ordained Belizean Pastors - Ernest Betson, Alvaro Pott, Juan Patt, Leogardo Catzim and one Mexican Pastors - Pastor Eliseo de la Cruz. Missionaries from North America have continued to arrive to assist. Presently, there are many Presbyterian elementary schools, a high school, a health clinic and a seminary.
There are six organized churches namely ‘Bethel’ from Cristo Rey, ‘Santa Trinidad’ of Patchakan, ‘Divino Redentor’ of San Narciso, ‘Ebenezer’ of San Jose, and ‘St. Andrew’s’ of Belize City. There are also several congregations and missions around the country. The church is a national church in the full sense of the word, reaching out to all areas of the society and ministering to the people of Belize in partnership with other organizations such as Mission to the World (MTW), World at Work, The Caribe Presbytery of Mexico, EduDeo (Canada) and others which work hand-in-hand in educational, medical, and spiritual projects. Although the church population is diverse, serving English, Scottish, Creole, Mayan, Hispanic, and Chinese parishioners, God has made the church one in Him.
TIME AND SERVICES
Worship services is on Sundays in the morning in all of our churches. Most of the start service at 9:00am. Some churches return in the evening for service. Generally, service is on Spanish in the north and English in Belize city. Some churches are bilingual or use a translator. Each church have their ministries and meet at different dates and time.
Rejuvenating Our Church Community - Readying Ourselves for Outreach
All Belizeans as Christ's Disciples
"The PCB since its formal organization in 1987 has had several leaders serving as Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders up to the present. Recently since the implementation of the strategic plan in June 2020, some changes of leadership has happened with our churches. presently up to 2024 these are the churches and their respective Pastors.
Ebenezer Presbyterian Church in San Pablo, Orange Walk is shepherded by Pastor Leogardo Catzim.
Pastor Leogardo Catzim completed his bachellor degree in Theological studies from MINTS and the Belize Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 2011.
Pastor Leogardo Catzim was ordained and installed as a Presbyterian Pastor in 2012.
Pastor Leogardo serves as senior pastor for other two churches - Emmanuel Presbyterian Church and Faith Presbyterian Church plant.
Other responsibilities Pastor Leogardo Catzim serves in presently are: member of Presbytery National Executive; Treasurer of Presbytery.
Pastor Ray Cal is a Mission to the World missionary in Belize.
Pastor Ray graduated with an M.Div. from Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis Missouri on 2006.
Pastor Ray was ordained as a Pastor in 2007. Pastor Ray was received into our Presbyterian ministry in March 2020. In 2020 Pastor Ray was assigned to support Pastor Leogardo Caztim in Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in San Pablo Orange Walk and also at Faith Presbyterian Church plant in Orange Walk Town.
Other responsibilities Pastor Ray serves in are a member of the now "Reformed Leadership Institute of Belize" and also supports in the teaching of some courses.
Pastor Juan Patt completed his Bachelor Degree in theological studies at "San Pablo Presbyterian Seminary in Merida, Yucatan Mexico.Pastor Juan Patt had assisted Betel Presbyterian Church in Cristo Rey with the preaching of the Word. Pastor Juan Patt was ordained and installed within the Presbyterian Church in Belize in 2013 to shepherd the church plant of "Prince of Peace". He also supports another church plant "Harvest" in the village of Calcutta, Corozal District. At "Harvest" mission, Ismael Lopez helps with the ministry. Other responsibilities Pastor Juan Patt serves in are: has been president of the National Executive of Presbytery; is presently Bible teacher at Cornerstone Presbyterian High School.
John W. Stodghill received a bachelors of arts in Biology from Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia in 1984. This is the Presbyterian Church of America's liberal arts college.
In 1991 he received a nursing degree from Chattanooga State, Chattanooga Tennessee.
In 1997 he received a Master's degree in business Management from Florida Institute of Technology, Melbourne Florida. In 2019 he received a bachelors in nursing from Anderson University, Anderson South Carolina. In 2021 after two and half years of study he received a certificate in Christian Ministries from Birmingham Theological Seminary in Birmingham Alabama. John joined Mission to the World (MTW) as a volunteer in disaster relief in 2003. He and his wife Karen joined MTW full time in January 2015. They served three years in the Bahamas on a church planting team and then moved to Belize to become the Belize MTW team leader in June 2019. The Stodghill's worked a few months in the Corozal district out of the Presbyterian medical clinic and then in August 2019 at PCB presbytery requested moved to Sana Elena Cayo to serve alongside the Session of St. Andrews church ministering to Bethany Presbyterian Church. John preachers almost every Sunday and has been helping since October 2022 with the newest church plant of the PCB in Belmopan the capital city of Belize.
Pastor Eliseo de la Cruz Lopez from the "Presbiterio del Caribe" Chetumal Mexico came to shepherd Betel Church in Cristo Rey village. Betel Church had been without a pastor for several years. On July 15, 2012, Pastor Eliseo de la Cruz Lopez as received in the Presbyterian Church in Belize and installed as Pastor of Betel Church. Pastor Eliseo served at Betel Church up to 15 July 2022 when he went back to Mexico.
While in Belize, Pastor Eliseo served as member of the then "The Belize Presbyterian Seminary" and other Presbytery commissions. He also shepherded two other church missions- Monte Sinai in Xaibel Village and Shalom in Loiusville, both in Corozal District. Betel Church is now without a pastor, and is being shepherded by Ruling Elders.
Pastor Alvaro Pott graduated with a degree of Masters in Theological Studies on 2010 from Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis Missouri. As a licentiate, He was called to be a pulpit supply at "Divino Redentor Presbyterian Church" at 2005. After completing his theological studies he was ordained and installed as a Pastor within the Presbyterian Church in Belize on February 2011 at "Divino Redentor Presbyterian Church". There is church plant in another community, San Victor, which is shepherded by Divino Redentor Church. Other responsibilities Pastor Alvaro Pott serves in are: presently president of Presbytery National Executive: General Manager of all Presbyterian Schools since 2012.
St Andrews Presbyterian Church in the heart of the largest city in Belize has been shepherded by many pastors. When Pastor Moises Chan left to live in the USA in the early 2000s, Ruling Elder Ernest Betson took leadership at the Church. And also took under its care Unity Presbyterian Mission in the "burial grounds" still in Belize City. Ernest Betson completed his Bachelor Degree in Theological studies at the Belize Presbyterian Seminary together with MINTS. In July 2016 Ernest was ordained and installed as a Pastor in St Andrews Presbyterian Church in Belize City. Pastor Ernest Betson also shepherds Bethany Congregation in Santa Elena Cayo. St Andews Presbyterian Church is starting a new church plant in Belmopan City, the capital city.
Other responsabilities Pastor Ernest Betson serves in: presently he is member of Presbytery National Executive.
Within our Presbyterian Ministry, we have experienced different challenges to raise more ministry candidates since 2016. Mario Ku started the path and was received as licentiate. Yet in March 2020 he officially and voluntarily stepped down from Ministry candidate and removed himself from the Presbyterian Church in Belize. The Presbyterian Church in Belize through its National Executive sought to restore him up to June 2023, with no success.
Presently, Isaias Botes, Ruling Elder, at Betel Presbyterian Church was received by Presbytery on January 2024 as ministry candidate. Other responsibilities Isaias Botes serves in: presently he is secretary of Presbytery National Executive.