From Snow-Covered Peaks to Tropical Forests
Early in the second half of the last century, a number of Waldensian families left their homeland in the Alps because of the social and economic hardships of the time and settled in the young Latin American nation of Uruguay, and near the border in neighboring Argentina. Settling in the forests in the Rio Plata (River Plate) district, they applied their agricultural skills, and created communities much like the ones they had left in the Alps. Today, after about 130 years, these communities have 24 established churches, and 48 places of worship looked after by 22 ministers. There are approximately 12,547 members of these churches today in Uruguay and Argentina. Together they make up The Evangelical Waldensian Church of the Rio Plata.
The Waldensians contributed to the development of these two Latin countries through their deep religious faith, and also by applying their considerable knowledge of farming. The Rio Plata Church is a rural church. Its administration center, the Casa Valdense, and its social institutions—homes for the elderly, a childrens’ home, a home for the disabled, and a social service center—are situated in the areas where the original settlers lived. Having its administrative center in the interior of Uruguay gives the Waldensian Church very special characteristics, since the other Churches there (Protestant as well as Roman Catholic) have their centers in the capital cities of Montevideo and Buenos Aires.
After the development of rural settlements, many families moved to urban centers where new communities were founded—first in the towns of the interior, then in the capitals of Uruguay and Argentina. The Church in Montevideo, Uruguay’s capital, was formed to serve the young people who came to the city for ...