GUATEMALA: a misleading report on the Internet

A misleading article entitled Mayan Guatemalans was posted by “Sandra” and dated 15th July 2019 on this website which explains its purpose in these words: “World Church Relationships (WCR) facilitates, maintains and develops the relationships between Partner Churches throughout the world and the Methodist Church in Britain at all levels.” The article says:

I learnt yesterday that the National Evangelical Methodist Primitive Church in Guatemala (IENMPG) was not established by United Methodists, but by a Methodist Church in Pennsylvania in 1916. This church began supporting Dr Carlos Secord, a Christian who felt called by God to open a clinic in Chichicastenango, while at the same time preaching the gospel. The Methodist Church in Pennsylvania eventually took this clinic under its wing and established a mission in the country.

Sandra has been seriously misinformed, and I made four attempts to correspond with her about this, as there are a few discrepancies in her report. The facts are quite at variance with what she has been told, and the true story, and the real identity of the denomination Sandra contacted, are told in my book on Primitive Methodism 1919-2019 (Tentmaker Publication, Stoke-on-Trent, 2019: paperback, 300 pages).

Here is what I attempted to draw Sandra’s attention to, and with her, the attention of  those in British Methodism involved with that website:

  • Primitive Methodist work in Guatemala began in 1922, when the US Primitive Methodists stopped supporting the British Primitive Methodist foreign mission in Africa and began their own missionary work by sending Charles and Carrie Furman to Guatemala, the first foreign country in which the US PMs worked.
  • The Furmans were from Turtle Creek, Pennsylvania, but were Pentecostals, even though recruited to work as Primitive Methotdist missionaries.
  • Another missionary couple called Hines arrived in Guatemala in 1910-2 and worked with Secord; they were also Pentecostals from Pennsylvania
  • You say that the 1916 missionary was Dr Carlos Secord, which is indeed how he signed his name in Spanish, but in fact he was Clayton Forsythe Secord
  • In fact he went to Guatemala (Chichicastenango) in 1900; he left Guatemala because of persecution and the Primitive Methodists absorbed most of his work
  • Harvard University’s website says he was of Plymouth Brethren affiliation
  • The 1921 US Primitive Methodist conference which decided to begin their own foreign missionary work was held at Hazleton, Pennsylvania
  • The “National” Primitive Methodists with whom you are in contact are a split from the Primitive Methodist Church, formed in the early 1980s on the basis of rejecting input from non-Guatemalan workers. They retained the name “Primitive Methodist”, but if you read their statement of faith (which they have posted on the Internet) it bears no resemblance to any Primitive Methodist or other Evangelical confession.


So it seems that your informants have claimed an independent Brethren missionary who went in 1900 as the start of their work; have got muddled because the first Primitive Methodist missionaries were from a Pentecostal church in Pennsylvania; and have failed to mention that they are a secession from the denomination.

I have to date received no reply from Sandra or from anyone else who works on the World Church Relations website.

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