History of the ILAG
The Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala (Augustinian Lutheran Church of Guatemala, ILAG) was founded by Padre Horacio Castillo in 1991, as Guatemala suffered through a catastrophic and deadly 36-year internal war. This war ended in 1996 with the signing of peace accords; Padre Horacio Castillo was part of the legal committee that wrote the peace accords.
The church members come from the margins of Guatemalan society, people of few material resources and who are predominantly indigenous. The first churches of the ILAG were formed in Guatemala City among internally displaced persons who had fled into the city during the war and were living (and still are living) in the ravines of the city.
Padre Horacio had also visited war refugees in camps in Mexico during the war. As these refugees began to return to Guatemala, they made contact with him again. Through these contacts, the ILAG grew in the rural areas of the country as well. The ILAG continues to grow each year by adding mission sites and churches as communities hear that the ILAG pastoral team walks with people, delivers the gospel freely to all people, and visits their communities regularly to bring the word of God. The ILAG has grown into 17 congregations, as well as a grade school in Guatemala City. Bishop Castillo retired in 2014, and the Rev. Karen Castillo now serves as President of the ILAG.
Beginning of the ELCA and ILAG Companion Relationship
The ILAG’s formal relationship with the ELCA began in 1998 with a visit to Guatemala by the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, Executive Director of the ELCA Global Mission. The Rev. Malpica made a visit to the parishes in Guatemala City and to the rural areas of Guatemala. Upon seeing the need that existed in the Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala, he decided to support the ILAG and made an offer of ELCA economic help to the ILAG for the development of the work of God.
Companion Synod Relationship
The Saint Paul Area Synod (SPAS) of the ELCA voted to form a Companion Synod Relationship with the Iglesia Luterana Agustina de Guatemala (ILAG) in 2005. Members of the synod had been visiting Guatemala and the ILAG since 2001, when current chair of the Guatemala Companion Synod Task Force Janet Metcalfe went to Guatemala though Youth Encounter. Janet continues to be a central figure in the partnership. The ILAG also has a Companion Synod relationship with the Southeastern Synod of the ELCA. To see a full list of partnered congregations, visit our Companion Churches page.