Panama Church Records

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

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Christianity is the main religion in Panama. An official survey carried out by the government estimated in 2015 that 63.2% of the population, or 2,549,150 people, identifies itself as Roman Catholic, and 25.0 percent as evangelical Protestant, or 1,009,740. The Jehovah's Witnesses were the third largest congregation comprising the 1.4% of the population, followed by the Adventist Church and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with the 0.6%.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) claims more than 40,000 members. Smaller religious groups include Seventh-day Adventists, Jehovah's Witnesses, Episcopalians with between 7,000 and 10,000 members. [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 Panama.
b. Click on Places within Panama 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 Letter Writing Guide for Genealogy for help with composing letters.

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

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

Missionary activity was erratic until the nineteenth century, when large numbers of English settlers, as well as slaves, ex-slaves, and mixed-race descendants of African and native peoples from British possessions in the West Indies began settling along the Atlantic coast of Central America. By the turn of the century, a number of chaplaincies dotted the Atlantic Coast from Honduras to Panama, overseen by the bishop of Honduras, whose see was established in 1883. In Panama, the American firm which responded to the California gold rush by building a railroad across the isthmus with the labour of thousands of West Indies workers built a church and paid for an American Episcopal priest to serve as its chaplain...he succumbed to yellow fever. The arrival of additional West Indian workers to build a canal prompted the arrival of two English missionaries, and Anglican ministry passed to the oversight of the bishop of Jamaica.[2]

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]

The Catholic Church in Panama is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Panama Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Pope in Rome. There are around 2.59 million Catholics in Panama, representing 69.7% of the population[1] and the country is divided into six dioceses, including one archdiocese. In addition, there is a Territorial Prelature and an Apostolic Vicariate. The Diocese of Panama is thought to be the oldest in the Americas. It was set up in 1514, with the arrival of Franciscan missionaries. The Catholic Church in Panama has favoured status, though all religions are free.[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]

Total Church Membership: 58,082. Congregations: 73.

In 1941, the first congregation was organized for military personnel stationed in the Panama Canal area. Church membership at that time was 100.

In 1961, Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave Church literature to the president of Panama, Roberto F. Chiari. When the Church was officially recognized by the government in 1965, missionary efforts began.

The first meetinghouse was completed in April 1970 on the Ustopo island. In 1989, when the Panama City Mission was created, there were 10,400 members in Panama. [4]

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

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Sociedad Dominicana de Los Testigos de Jehovah
Apartado 1742

Telephone:+1 809-595-4007

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

On Sunday, April 1, 1945, Gilead graduates Lennart and Virginia Johnson arrived in Ciudad Trujillo (now Santo Domingo), the capital of the Dominican Republic, as the first Witnesses in the country... Four more missionaries arrived early in June 1945, and soon they had placed a considerable amount of literature and had started many Bible studies....In March 1946, Nathan Knorr and Frederick Franz from world headquarters visited the Dominican Republic. There was much anticipation for the visit, and in addition to the brothers, 75 interested people attended a talk given by Brother Knorr. During the visit, Brother Knorr made arrangements to establish a branch office in the Dominican Republic.[5]

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

Writing for Records[edit | edit source]

Historical Background[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "Panama", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 4 March 2020.
  2. Anthony Milton, et. al, The Oxford History of Anglicanism,, accessed 4 March 2020.
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "Catholic Church in Panama", in Wikipedia: the Free Encyclopedia,, accessed 4 March 2020.
  4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, "Facts and Statistics: Panama,, accessed 4 March 2020.
  5. Jehovah's Witnesses, "Dominican Republic",, accessed 4 March 2020.