From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ALC Noticias 4 August 2003

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Mon, 04 Aug 2003 20:08:39 -0700


CHILE: Strife in Pentecostal Methodist Church after Bishop president passes 
BRAZIL: Leaders from Latin American and US Churches support the Landless 
Workers Movement
ARGENTINA: Evangelical Churches have different reactions to Civil Union Law
CANADA: Tenth FLM Assembly approves final message

Strife in Pentecostal Methodist Church after Bishop president passes away

SANTIAGO , July 28, 2003 (alc). Thousands of faithful attended the funeral 
of Bishop Javier Vasquez while tensions increased as different groups vie 
for power in the Pentecostal Methodist Church.

Vasquez passed away July 25, age 86 and was buried in the Parque del 
Recuerdo cemetery in this capital as family, faithful and authorities paid 
him homage.

My father went calmly, without pain... he went to be with the Lord his 
children and grandchildren are united . He closed his eyes and I want to 
say that the Pentecostal Methodist Church is solid, said Jorge Vasquez, 
the bishops oldest son.

Despite Jorge Vasquezs comments, a battle is raging over who will succeed 
the leader who represented nearly 2 million faithful. The night the bishop 
passed away, the police had to intervene to mediate between the children 
and Olga Hanssen, the second wife of the Pentecostal leader whom he married 
a year ago.

There are two funeral cars. They are fighting for the body and the 
cemetery where they are going to bury him. It is incredible, said one 

A week earlier, after the Bishop was admitted to intensive care in the 
Indisa clinic, communication media reported the confrontation between two 
sectors of the church that both believe they have the right to lead it.

Bishop Vasquez was born in Negrete on June 21, 1917 and at age 17 was an 
active local preacher. Thanks to his initiative, Churches were established 
in Duqueco, Coihue and Tambillo.

Years later he moved to Santiago to study and received pastoral orientation 
and material support from Bishop Manuel Umaqa. When Umaqa passed away in 
1964, Vaquez became pastor of the Jobateche Church and under his leadership 
membership increased significantly.

He built what is known today as the Evangelical Cathedral with a capacity 
for 15,000 people and the place where the Evangelical Te Deum is held, 
attended each year by the president of the Republic and other civil and 
political authorities.

In 1985 he was elected bishop president of the denomination and for 18 
years the work grew throughout the country and today membership is an 
estimated 2 million.

Converted into the emblematic leader of the largest Evangelical Church in 
the country, Vasquez was not free from political controversy, given the 
passive attitude he had toward Gen. Pinochets 1973 military coup and human 
rights violations.

Leaders from Evangelical Churches and human rights organizations condemned 
Vasquezs proximity to power and his willingness to celebrate the Te Deum, 
for the first time in the Evangelical Community. In the 1980s, Pinochet 
preferred to go to the Evangelical Cathedral to celebrate the Te Deum due 
to the critical attitude the Catholic Church had toward his government.

Despite the criticism, successive governments have continued to celebrate 
the Te Deum in the Catholic Cathedral and the Evangelical Cathedral. As a 
demonstration of the weight and importance of Bishop Vasquez, the Mayor of 
Santiago Joaquin Lavin, legislators and senators also attended the funeral, 
and President Ricardo Lagos sent his condolences.

In order to resolve the issue of succession, spokespeople from the Church 
informed that next month the Conference of Pastors will meet and the new 
leader of the Methodist Pentecostal Church will be elected through a secret 
ballot. During the transition period, Pastor Bernardo Cartes, current vice 
president of the Corporation, will lead the Church.

Meanwhile, it was reported that next week the Board of Deans of the 
Evangelical Cathedral (Jotabeche) will elect a new pastor. The most 
probable, according to Church sources, is that Pastor Eduardo Duran Castro, 
designed interim pastor on July 23, will be ratified.

Leaders from Latin American and US Churches support the Landless Workers 

By Paulo Hebm|ller
SAO PAULO, July 29, 2003 (alc). Tomas Balduino, President of the Pastoral 
Land Commission, Federico Pagura, Argentine Methodist Bishop emeritus and 
Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutierrez, among other Latin American leaders, 
published a statement protesting what they termed a systematic campaign 
against the Landless Workers Movement in the Brazilian Press.

The campaign, according to the statement seeks to criminalize social 
movements that peacefully struggle against social exclusion and structural 
injustice in Brazilian society.

The movement (MST for its initials in Spanish) is accused of sparking 
tension in the countryside by increasing land takeovers in several states. 
In Rio Grande do Sul landowners organized to impede marches and MST 
propaganda. In Sao Gabriel, in the interior of the state, landowners who 
are opposed to the expropriation of 13,200 hectares of land under the 
agrarian reform, sought to block an MST march to the municipality.

The message from the pastors and bishops was published during a conference 
on Christianity in Latin America and the Caribbean that brought together 
more than 700 people in the Catholic Pontifical University of Sao Paulo as 
of July 28.

According to the text, bishops, pastors and theologians from several 
Christian Churches denounce this attempt to attribute a crime to the 

Brazilian press coverage attributes the violence and the social 
disturbances to those who have no land or roof over their heads and who are 
demanding that society guarantee the minimal rights that correspond to each 
citizen: land, bread, work and dignity.

Those signing the document reaffirmed that the fundamental crime against 
the human fraternity is committed by the large land owner, responsible for 
the hunger and death of so many human beings.

  The land is Gods give to everyone, affirms the text that concluded by 
saying that Jesus Christ strengthens the path of the poor of the earth.

Among others the statement was also signed by Catholic Bishops Demitrio 
Valentini, of Jales (SP), Heriberto Heremes, of Cristalbndia (TO), Pedro 
Casaldaliga, Samuel Ruiz (Mexican bishop emeritus) and Hermenegildo Rammrez 
(of San Cristsbal de las Casas, Mexico).

Pastor Rolf Sch|nemann, second vice president of the Evangelical Church of 
the Lutheran Confession of Brazil, Sister Maris Bolzan, president of the 
Conference of Religious and Theologian	Josi Oscar Beozzo added their voices.

During the Conference the National Council of US Churches also published an 
open letter to the MST, supporting the movement for its admirable action 
in favor of justice in the countryside and education for the poorest of 

In the entire world, the path of the MST is a prophetic sign of a more 
just and fraternal world, it is a parable and a glimpse of the Kingdom of 
God that Jesus Christ came to bring us, said the statement signed by the 
Rev. Fred Morris, director of Latin American relations and by Antonio 
Kireopoulos, general associate secretary for International Affairs and Peace.

Evangelical Churches have different reactions to Civil Union Law

BUENOS AIRES, July 30, 2003 (alc). A law on Civil Union, passed by the 
government of the city of Buenos Aires that allows the first legal 
marriages between homosexuals in this capital, has sparked diverse 
reactions in Evangelical Churches.

The Evangelical Church of the River Place (IERP) publicly said that the 
state is autonomous regarding legislation and said that the law is an 
authentic response to a legitimate demand from and between people who up 
until now have only faced prejudice and discrimination.

For its part, the United Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELU) said, we are 
convinced that this Law and this registry of Civil Unions does not 
constitute a threat to marriage because we are talking about extremely 
different realities.

In practice there is no longer an absolute model of family and life 
together because the circumstances of our society and our culture show us 
a pluralism of proposals that are the object of our pastoral attention and 
fraternal reflection, it added.

On the other hand, the Christian Alliance of Evangelical Churches of the 
Argentine Republic (ACIERA) expressed its profound concern for this law 
that reflects the constant devaluing of marriage and the family. The law 
hid its objective of legally recognizing homosexual unions in a broader 
framework of civil unions it warned.

In placing same-sex unions on the same level of marriage something that 
was previously outside of the natural order has become legal, in open 
rebellion of that natural order that had been established by God, affirmed 

The IERP communiqui is signed by Carlos Duarte, vice president currently 
exercising the presidency and Juan Abelardo Schvindt, secretary general.

  The IELU statement is signed by Ricardo Pietrantonio, vice president 
currently exercising the presidency, Ricardo Stein, executive secretary and 
other leaders from the United Evangelical Lutheran Church.

Tenth FLM Assembly approves final message

WINNIPEG, July 31, 2003 (alc). More than 800 people representing 61.7 
million Lutherans worldwide in 136 Churches and 76 countries approved a 
final statement summarizing the results of the X Lutheran World Federation 
Assembly, meeting for 10 days in this Canadian city.

Under the theme For the healing of the World, delegates worked until the 
final hours Wednesday to draft a document that summarized the areas of 
major concern of Lutherans from all continents. Moreover, it also set out 
LWF activities until the next Assembly, slated to take place in six years.

Themes addressed in the final document include globalization, human 
sexuality, violence and care of the environment, as well as the wounds that 
suffered by the world that

One key aspect of the meeting was a silent march on the part of 
participants from the Winnipeg Convention Center, where sessions were held, 
to the Canadian government Citizenship and Immigration Offices that denied 
visas to 50 delegates from developing nations. The march culminated with a 
worship service.

The message indicated that in fulfillment of the prophetic role to promote 
justice and human rights, Churches should assume a strong position for the 
transformation of economic globalization.

The document indicates that the gap between the rich and poor has grown 
deeper, that the marginalization of indigenous people increases and the 
foreign debt of poor nations has become an instrument of domination. The 
message calls on people to develop an economy that serves all of life.

The document challenges Lutherans to be Gods hands on earth to create, 
restore and sustain the wounded creation that needs healing. It calls on 
them to challenge the practices that convert the gifts of Gods creation 
into merchandise and earnings, in particular when this activity harms the 

It also called on members of the Lutheran Church to work against activities 
that have an impact on the climate, such as the consumption of fossil fuels 
and to educate their communities in creation theology.

It called on people to explore what it means to be Lutherans in 
communion, including communication with people coming from other cultures. 
It also called for the full inclusion of women and young people in all 
aspects of Church life.

The message states that the concept of healing goes beyond denominational 
frontiers and encouraged cooperation and dialogue with other Churches, with 
special attention on ecumenical activities in Africa, Asia, Central and 
Eastern Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean.

It also invited Lutherans to remove the barriers the exclude some people 
from participating in the life God has give for all. These barriers include 
gender, race, ethnic groups, class, nationality, cast, sexual orientation, 
age, physical or mental condition.

It also referred to the human rights of indigenous people, in particular 
the Dalit people of India, who were denied entry visas into Canada

The final document also called for special attention for people with 
HIV/AIDs, those who suffer violence and poverty. Service has a fundamental 
vision in the life of the Church, the document stated.

There was an animated debate about human sexuality and the meaning of 
family. The message promotes a respectful dialogue about marriage, family 
and human sexuality, in an appropriate manner for the needs of each member 
of the Church.

It also encouraged people to actively participate in the decade to overcome 
family violence, against women and children, the growing militarism and 
proliferation of weapons. It calls on people to work against expressions of 
violence in the media and in particular against fundamentalism in all 

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