Chile Church Records

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High altar at La Tirana, Tarapacá, Chile.

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

Online Resources and Websites[edit | edit source], MyHeritage, and FindMyPast records can be searched free of charge at a Family history Center near you.

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The declining majority religion in Chile, according to a 2019 survey Encuesta Nacional Bicentenario, is still Christianity (63%), with an estimated 45% of Chileans belonging to the Catholic Church, 32% not religiously affiliated, 18% to Protestant or Evangelical churches and 5% to any other religion. The religiously unaffiliated population (32%) includes: atheists, agnostics and people who do not identify with any particular religion.

Protestants represent 13% of Chilean people. Protestants first arrived in the first half of the nineteenth century, with American missionary David Trumbull and with German immigrants from Protestant parts of Germany, mainly Lutherans. Later came Anglicans, Presbyterians, Baptists, Seventh-day Adventists, Methodists, Pentecostals, and other Protestant Christians. Seventh-Day Adventist missionaries first arrived in 1895.[1]

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 Chile.
b. Click on Places within Chile 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]

There are about nine million Catholics - around 58% of the total population. There are 5 archdioceses, 18 dioceses, 2 territorial prelatures, 1 apostolic vicariate, 1 military ordinariate and a personal prelature.

Catholicism was introduced by priests with the Spanish colonialists in the 16th century. Most of the native population in the northern and central regions was evangelized by 1650. The southern area proved more difficult. In the 20th century, church expansion was impeded by a shortage of clergy and government control.[2]

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]

Church President David O. McKay visited expatriate Church members in Santiago in 1954. On May 26, 1956, Chile became part of the Argentine Mission, and the first Chilean branch was organized in Santiago on July 5. The Chile Mission was organized on October 8, 1961, with 1,100 members. When the first stake (diocese) was organized 11 years later, with Carlos A. Cifuentes as president, membership had grown to more than 20,000 members.

Total Church Membership (2020): 595,526. Congregations: 590. [3]

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

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

During the 19th century, British immigrants to South America brought Anglicanism with them. The Patagonian Missionary Society, renamed South American Mission Society (SAMS) in 1868, was initially active in Tierra del Fuego and later extended its activities to the Araucanian region. It was responsible for the formation of all the early Anglican churches and missions in Chile.

Waite Stirling, a missionary from the South American Missionary Society, was consecrated at Westminster Abbey on 21 December 1869 as the first Bishop of the Falkland Islands. The see of the bishop was in Buenos Aires. This was due to legal requirements at the time which did not allow the Church of England to consecrate or appoint bishops outside those territories under the jurisdiction of the Crown, but the jurisdiction of the bishop was stated to be all of South America apart from British Guiana.

The Diocese of Chile, Bolivia and Peru was formed in 1963.[4]

Baptist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Baptists arrived in Chile from Germany, Scotland and the United States from 1884 to 1917. They were the first real movement of Baptists to Chile, although President (General Director) Bernardo O’Higgins had invited Scottish Baptist Pastor James Thompson in 1821 to work to improve Chilean primary education using the Lancaster method.

There were also a few Baptists included in the more general immigrations of Germans during the 1850s and 1860s to Valdivia, La Unión and Osorno, along with the later settlements around Lago Llanquihue. Some of the earliest German Baptists settled from Contulmo to Los Ángeles, down to Victoria, and also El Salto, Quillén Viejo and Temuco, including the Lichtenberg, Reinicke, Rolof, Meir, and Berg families, evangelizing German-speaking Roman Catholics.

In 1908, twenty years after his initial arrival in the country and extensive labors, missionary William MacDonald and three hundred Baptist brethren founded the first evangelical Baptist convention in Chile.[5]

Eastern Orthodox Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Santiago and All Chile: The Antiochian Orthodox Archdiocese of Santiago and All Chile is a Metropolia of The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch with jurisdiction over all the Republic of Chile. The migration of Christian Arabs from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to different parts of the Americas during the late nineteenth Century and early twentieth century brought the Orthodox Faith to Chile. In 1910, the first Orthodox Presbyteros arrives to Chile from Syria. On October 24, 1917, St. George Cathedral in Santiago was inaugurated as the first Orthodox temple in Chile. In 1996, after being a Patriarchal Vicariate since 1951, the Orthodox Church in Chile was raised to the level of a Metropolia. The Archdiocese now has six parishes, and served by seven priests, four of whom have a degree in Theology. Services are conducted in Spanish, since most of the people that attend the church are Chilean citizens despite their Arab ancestry. There is also an increasing number of non-Arab Chileans who are joining Orthodoxy. [6]

There are more than 70,000 Orthodox Christians in Chile, the majority of them of Russian or Greek origin. Russian Chileans form a minor part of the Russian diaspora and a small group in comparison to the other ethnic groups in Chile. The first Russians came to Chile in the early 19th century as part of naval expeditions circumnavigating the globe, among them captains Otto Kotsebu, Fyodor Litke, and Vasili Golovnin. However, they were just temporary visitors; the earliest Russian migrants came in 1854. The 2002 Chilean Census reported 638 Russian citizens, although Russia's government estimates that 1,300 Russians live in Chile.[7]

Jehovah's Witnesses[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Asociación Cristiana Testigos de Jehová
Casilla 267

Telephone:+56 2-2428-2600

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

While pioneering in Argentina near the Andes Mountains, a desire grew within Richard Traub to open up the preaching work in Chile. Brother Juan Muñiz, the then branch overseer in Argentina, agreed that it seemed to be a good idea. Brother Traub was assigned to Chile. He arrived in Santiago on the evening of April 30, 1930. On February 13, 1931, the first baptism in Chile was conducted by Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 1944, construction began on the first Kingdom Hall to be built in Chile. It was finished in August of that year, in time for the first convention ever held in Chile. At the close of the year 1945, 10 more missionaries arrived. This group of missionaries had the privilege of setting up the first missionary home at 3004 Lyon Street in Santiago. There are now 280 congregations. [8]

Lutheran Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

  • German immigrants arrived in Chile in the 19th century. Some of them decided to leave Germany after the riots in 1848. Others hoped to start again economically in the lands that the Chilean government lent them. They had in common the same language and their German identity. Then, it is easy to understand that German-Chilean institutions were places to preserve and care for their traditions and identity.
  • With the foundation of the first German-speaking evangelical community in 1863, the church began to be part of that identity. A place for baptisms and marriages was needed. German pastors with more training could also teach in schools. Some were glad to have a German hymnbook in their hands again. By 1890, the majority of the communities that today belong to the Lutheran Church in Chile (ILCH) already existed. [9]

Methodist Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Methodism arrived in Chile through the efforts of a self-supporting missionary, and was followed by the arrival of other missionaries from the USA, the establishment of schools, and eventually evangelization in the Spanish language. The mission came under the Methodist Episcopal Church in 1893, when the South American Conference was organized with Chile as one of its districts. In 1901 the Chile district became an annual conference, and as of 1924 it was part of the Latin America central conference. The latter was allowed in 1932 to elect its own bishop. In 1969 the Methodist Church of Chile became autonomous, electing a bishop and adopting its own statutes and regulations. The church maintains relationships with the United Methodist Church (in the USA and in Switzerland), with the Methodist Church, UK, and with the United Church of Canada.[10]

Pentecostal Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Pentecostal Church of Chile was founded in 1945 by Bishop Chavez, who came out of the Methodist Pentecostal Church. Its headquarters are in Curico, about 200 kms south of Santiago. The growth of the church has been the result of an intensive evangelistic campaign, especially among the working class and marginal groups, and the poorest sectors of society.[11]

Presbyterian Church Records[edit | edit source]

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

The Presbyterian Church in Chile was founded in June 7, 1868 in the city of Santiago and was the first Protestant church in the country. On June 13, 1883 the first Presbytery was organized in Chile. It adopted the Constitution of the United Presbyterian Church in the USA. Till 1963 the church was dependent on the United Presbyterian Churches Synod of New York. With the creating of 3 more Presbyteries, the church become independent from the American Presbyterian church in January 1964. The church has one Synod in five presbyteries and 36 local churches.[12]

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

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

See, A Land of Hope: The Growth of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in South America, for a detailed history. There are multiple stories of early Seventh-day Adventist individuals who arrived in Chile between 1885-1890.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Chile", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 8 March 2020.
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Religion in Chile", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 8 March 2020.
  3. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Facts and Statistics: Chile,, accessed 8 March 2020.
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Anglican Church of Chile", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 9 March 2020.
  5. John Cobin, "Early Twentieth Century Baptists in Chile", posted May 18th 2018,, accessed 8 March 2020.
  6. Wikipedia contributors, "Russian Chileans", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 8 March 2020.
  7. Wikipedia contributors, "Russian Chileans", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 8 March 2020.
  8. "Chile",,, accessed 8 March 2020.
  9. Daniel Lenski, "The history of the Lutheran Church in Chile", in "La Iglesia Luterana",, accessed 8 March 2020.
  10. "Methodist Church of Chile", in "World Council of Churches",, accessed 8 March 2020.
  11. "Pentecostal Church of Chile", in "World Council of Churches",, 8 March 2020.
  12. Wikipedia contributors, "Presbyterian Church in Chile", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 8 March 2020.

References[edit | edit source]