Colombia Church Records

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For information about records for non-Christian religions in Colombia, go to the Religious Records page.

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) does not collect religious statistics, and accurate reports are difficult to obtain. However, based on various studies and a survey, about 90% of the population adheres to Christianity, the majority of which (70.9%–79%) are Roman Catholic, while a significant minority (16.7%) adhere to Protestantism (primarily Evangelicalism). 1.8% of Colombians adhere to Jehovah's Witnesses and Seventh-day Adventism. and less than 1% adhere to other religions, such as Mormonism [Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints], Orthodox Catholic Church, and several others. While Colombia remains a mostly Roman Catholic country by baptism numbers, the 1991 Colombian constitution guarantees freedom of religion and all religious faiths and churches are equally free before the law. [1][2]

Information Recorded in the Records[edit | edit source]

Different denominations, different time periods, and practices of different record keepers will effect how much information can be found in the records. This outline will show the types of details which might be found (best case scenario):

Baptisms[edit | edit source]

In Catholic and Anglican records, children were usually baptized a few days after birth, and therefore, the baptism record proves date of birth. Other religions, such as Baptists, baptized at other points in the member's life. Baptism registers might give:

  • baptism date
  • the infant's name
  • parents' names
  • father's occupation
  • status of legitimacy
  • occasionally, names of grandparents
  • names of witnesses or godparents, who may be relatives
  • birth date and place
  • the family's place of residence
  • death information, as an added note or signified by a cross

Marriages[edit | edit source]

Marriage registers can give:

  • the marriage date
  • the names of the bride and groom
  • indicate whether the bride and groom were single or widowed
  • their ages
  • birth dates and places for the bride and groom
  • their residences
  • their occupations
  • birthplaces of the bride and groom
  • parents' names (after 1800)
  • the names of previous spouses and their death dates
  • names of witnesses, who might be relatives.

Burials[edit | edit source]

Burial registers may give:

  • the name of the deceased
  • the date and place of death or burial
  • the deceased's age
  • place of residence
  • cause of death
  • the names of survivors, especially a widow or widower
  • deceased's birth date and place
  • parents' names, or at least the father's name

How to Find Records[edit | edit source]

Digital Copies of Church Records in the FamilySearch Catalog[edit | edit source]

Watch for digitized copies of church records to be added to the collection of the FamilySearch Library. Some records might have viewing restrictions, and can only be viewed at a Family History Center near you, and/or by members of supporting organizations. To find records:

a. Click on the records of Colombia.
b. Click on Places within Colombia and a list of towns will appear.
c. Click on your town if it appears, or the location which you believe was the parish which served your town or village.
d. Click on the "Church records" topic. Click on the blue links to specific record titles.
e. Some combination of these icons will appear at the far right of the listing for the record. FHL icons.png. The magnifying glass indicates that the record is indexed. Clicking on the magnifying glass will take you to the index. Clicking on the camera will take you to an online digital copy of the records.

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

You will probably need to write to or email the national archives, the diocese, or local parish priests to find records. See the Spanish Letter Writing Guide for help with composing letters.

Catholic Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing to a Local Parish[edit | edit source]

Earlier records can be held at the diocese, with more recent records still kept in the local parish. To locate the mailing address or e-mail address for a diocese or local parish, consult:

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Catholicism was introduced to the country 1508. Two dioceses were organized in 1534. The Church grow significantly by the mid-17th century. Throughout Latin America, the Church was subject to Spain and served its purposes throughout the colonial period and part of the nineteenth century. It was responsible for founding and directing schools for educating native elites (San Bartolome, El Rosario and the University of St. Thomas), creating and sustaining hospitals, help from the colonial bureaucracy and generally, as an instrument of control and social cohesion. With the Constitution of Colombia of 1991 the Colombian State was no longer Catholic. Equality and religious freedom were recognized.

The church is organized into 13 ecclesiastical provinces, subdivided into 13 archdioceses and 52 dioceses, and a Maronite apostolic exarchate. Over 120 religious orders, institutes, and lay organizations run hundreds of primary and secondary schools, hospitals, clinics, orphanages, colleges, and 8 universities across the country. [3]

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Records[edit | edit source]

Online Records[edit | edit source]

Online information is available to current members, for deceased members and immediate family members who are still living. Sign in to FamilySearch and then select Family Tree in the drop-down menu.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The first 45 members in Colombia were mostly North Americans who met in congregations in Cali and Bogotá. In May 1966, the first missionaries arrived. Five years later, 27 congregations were established in 10 cities.

Church education for youth began in 1972. By 1976, 900 students were enrolled in educational programs to prepare them for future leadership positions. Colombia's first chapel for Sunday worship was built in Cali in 1975.

Total membership: Colombia 205,431. Congregations: 246. [4]

Anglican (Episcopal) Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Episcopal Church in Colombia began as a chaplaincy serving the English-speaking foreigners residing in the country. For this reason, the pastoral jurisdiction passed successively from the Falkland Islands, to Jamaica, to British Honduras and finally to Panama. It was the missionary White Hocking Stirling, from the Falkland Islands, who having been consecrated in 1869 in London, assumed the responsibility of pastorally supervising Colombia. The Falkland Islands was the only territory on the American continent where an English bishop could legally settle. From such a remote residence, the bishop could hardly visit the missions or chaplaincies of Colombia, but he used priests residing in Panama.

The financial and labor crisis of the years 1927-1929 decimated the missionary presence, because people were forced to migrate to other places in search of work. Bishop Morris died in 1930 and the diocese of Panama was vacant until 1937. The work in Colombia re-opened in February 1945. Everything was prepared for the aggressive missionary plan that would begin that same year.

In the early 1960s it became clear to Bishop Gooden that the ministry should be extended to the nationals if further growth of the church. On April 13, l961, the bishop celebrated the first mass in Spanish in Barranquilla.

In 1963 the Episcopal Diocese of Colombia was erected. Colombia was detached from the missionary district of Panama and the Canal Zone. At that time the membership of the diocese was, in a very high percentage, foreign, spoke 99 percent in English. The process of indigenization of the church was gradually accomplished. The diocese had in 1965 five American priests, one British and two Colombians. In l969 there were six Colombian priests, four North Americans and one Spanish. Foreign membership had declined to 65 percent.[5]

Evangelical Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The first Evangelical churches in the country were founded by Republican missionaries coming from the United States in the late XIX century, theologian Mario Arias said.

Liberals, which controlled the government between 1930 and 1948, promoted the construction of Evangelical churches all around the country. Those building the churches were Evangelical missionaries with plenty of resources to go to even the most isolated areas of the country. So the government saw their presence as an opportunity to bring infrastructure and education to those remote regions. [6]

Jehovah's Witnesses Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

For a detailed history, see 1990 Yearbook of Jehovah’s Witnesses: Colombia.

Orthodox Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Pentecostal Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Pentecostalism was first introduced in Bucaramanga, Colombia, in 1936 by Canadian citizens, Verner Larsen with his wife and younger son. After two years of evangelizing in Colombia, Larsen had made no progress with converting people to Pentecostalism. Along with his failing work, he has to deal with the trauma of his wife passing away during childbirth leaving him with two children who he sent to other missionaries while he stayed in Colombia to continue his work. Despite dealing with life altering events, a small Pentecostal group was started. From this tiny spark, other missionaries from the United States traveled to Colombia to hear the Pentecostal message and spread the word. In Bucaramanga, Larsen and his new wife, Fayette Barnard, founded a new church in a rented house for everyone to practice Pentecostalism in. After some time, the couple decided to travel back to Canada. While making their trip, they missed a flight and got as far as Barranquilla. With this unforeseen opportunity, they began to evangelize on the streets. The results were so promising, they decided to stay in Barranquilla, one of the poorest barrios of the city.[7]

Seventh-day Adventist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Seventh-day Adventist Church is a major Christian denomination with a significant presence in Colombia with over 275,172 members as of June 30, 2018. The Seventh-day Adventist Church splits Colombia into two Unions.[8]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Colombia", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 6 March 2020.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Colombia", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 6 March 2020.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Catholic Church in Colombia", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 13 March 2020.
  4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Facts and Statistics: Colombia,, accessed 13 March 2020.
  5. "THE ANGLICAN EPISCOPAL CHURCH - COLOMBIA",, accessed 13 March 2020.
  6. "The Evangelical Phenomenon in Colombia: From a Persecuted Minority to a Powerful Political Force Tweet", in "The Rise of Fundamentalism",, accessed 13 March 2020.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Pentecostalism in Colombia", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 13 March 2020.
  8. Wikipedia contributors, "Seventh-day Adventist Church in Colombia", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 13 March 2020.