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History

 

 

 

Our Synod covers two states in the Southwest of the United States – Arizona and New Mexico, with Presbyterians worshipping in 140 churches. The Synod has a rich history. First were the Native Americans (near Clovis, NM, stone implements have been found that were over 10,000 years old). The next part of our heritage was the arrival of the Hispanic people from Mexico. In 1540, Francisco de Coronado brought an expedition through what is now Arizona and New Mexico.

The influx of Hispanics continued with particular growth occurring when Father Kino began his work in southeastern Arizona. The third wave of people into this area was the westbound people of the United States. There were trappers, hunters, gold-seekers, cattle ranchers and miners, all looking for a better life. Cattle raising, cotton-growing, other agricultural pursuits, and mining have changed to more commercial ventures of all sorts in the last 85 years. As in many mission areas, the Presbyterians brought churches, schools and medical care with them when they came.

Our area is growing at a rate much faster than that of the nation in general. We have a high diversity of life styles, incomes, and ethnicity. Our largest growth rate is among the Asian population but the largest percentage of our racial-ethnic community is Hispanic/Latino. Family structures are mixed but basically traditional and our worship preferences are contemporary. Our primary concerns are those of community and personal problems and we prefer spiritual and personal development as the direction for programs. The education levels of our metropolitan areas are high compared to those of the rural areas. There is more resistance to change in the urban areas than in the outlying communities. One very frustrating fact for evangelism is the low level of faith receptivity throughout the synod.

 

The Synod of the Southwest is made up of four units called presbyteries – Grand Canyon, de Cristo in Arizona, and Santa Fe and Sierra Blanca in New Mexico. There are two meetings of the Synod each year, with representatives and staff coming from each of the presbyteries. Our largest challenges are development and redevelopment, training of our lay leaders, and border (refugee) ministries. With regard to our urban communities, we are discovering that what we need to do is to address the needs and composition of those areas immediately surrounding our churches. The specific areas to be concentrated on are worship style, community service, program offerings and leadership styles.

On January 1, 1973 the Synod of the Southwest adopted the Ojo de Dios as their symbol. Four presbyteries serve, worship and work together to the honor and glory of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Ojo de Dios “eye of God”. The center represents the pupil of the eye of the Spirit. The four points represent Earth, Fire, Air and Water. The Ojo symbolizes a wish for Health, Fortune and Long Life.

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