From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ALC Noticias 4 August 2003
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Mon, 04 Aug 2003 20:08:39 -0700
ALC NEWS SERVICE
CHILE: Strife in Pentecostal Methodist Church after Bishop president passes
BRAZIL: Leaders from Latin American and US Churches support the Landless
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
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
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
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
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
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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