From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
ALC News Service Noticias 18 Aug 2003
Worldwide Faith News <email@example.com>
Mon, 18 Aug 2003 10:47:38 -0700
ALC NEWS SERVICE
VENEZUELA: Secular press recognizes the work of Evangelical leader Samuel
BRAZIL: Lutherans pray for reform in Brazil
ARGENTINA: Argentine Congress lauds Bishop Pagura
CHILE: Senate gives green light to debate on divorce law
BRAZIL: Christianity needs to render internal accounts, said Conference
Secular press recognizes the work of Evangelical leader Samuel Olson
CARACAS, August 12, 2003 (alc). The Rev Samuel Olson, president of the
Evangelical Council of Venezuela, was recognized in the Venezuelan magazine
Gerente as one of the One Hundreds Leaders of Society in this South
In its recent issue Gerente published a selection of 100 Venezuelans who,
for their trajectory and the social impact of their activities, constitute
a reference for the rest of Venezuelan citizens.
In the area of religion Olson appears together with Rabbi Pynchas Brener,
the Rev. Mikel De Viana and two Catholic bishops.
Olson is described as a prominent leader because of his tireless work in
Venezuelan society through his work in the Venezuelan Evangelical Council,
the New Life home, the Evangelical Las Acacias Pentecostal Church and his
participation in the Active Awareness Foundation.
The selection made by Gerente is based on a survey carried out among
institutions, public opinion firms and advisors in different areas.
This recognition was made public August 7, with a reception for the
The Evangelical Entre-Christianos portal said that including the Rev. Olson
together with figures like President Hugo Chavez, businessmen,
sociologists, journalists and scientists is a sign of the progress of the
Christian people in Venezuela
Lutherans pray for reform in Brazil
PORTO ALEGRE, August 13, 2003 (alc). Walter Altmann, Pastor President of
the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession of Brazil (IECLB) called
on the 441 parishes and 1,787 communities that form part of this
denomination to pray that the reform being taken on by the Luis Inacio Lula
da Silva government is done with justice and respect for the dignity of
the Brazilian people.
We are experiencing an important moment in national life, when not only
will the immediate path of the country be decided, but also the type of
nation we will offer to future generations. May we contribute with our
testimony, actions and intercession to give signs of justice and dignity,
affirmed Altmann, in a pastoral letter in which he called on people to pray
for the reform in the IECLB Sunday worship services.
The Executive and legislation branches must debate and approve important
reforms related to pensions and fiscal reform. Last week the Chamber of
Deputies approved reforms related to the retirement pensions for public
employees, which generated controversy and sparked protests among civil
The debate regarding the pension reform, like the rest of the reforms, was
extremely controversial and at time conflictive. The political struggle
related to the reforms is legitimate, as an expression of the different
perspectives about Brazilian society, he added.
However, the debate is worrying when private or corporative interests seek
to place themselves above the interests of the vast majority of the
national population, above all when these interests seem to defend the
enormous inequity that the Brazilian people suffer, the unjust distribution
of wealth, one of the most serious in the world, he argued.
The debate about the reforms involves Lutherans as a Christian Church of
Brazil. One of the responsibilities of the Church is to intercede for the
countrys authorities so that they govern with justice and wisdom. We are
co-responsible, in prayer and action, for the defense and promotion of the
quality of life of all people, in particular those who suffer social
inequalities, said Altmann.
Last August 10, Altmann installed the new IECLB leadership in a worship
service in Porto Alegre. The IECLB Council named, in its July 11-12 meeting
the following officials: Secretary General, Pastor Nestor Friedrich;
Finances, Helvino Elmo Pufal; Communciaiton Pastor Heitor Joerci Meurer;
Personnel, Pastor Edson Edmlio Streck; and Formation Pastor Romeu Ruben
Others included presidential advisor, Carlos Gilberto Bock; the executive
secretary of Service for Educational Development Projects, Pastor Harald
Malschitzky; the executive secretary for the PPHM, catechist Haidi Drebes;
and chief of secretariat Cerise Pahl.
The IECLB defined that the theme for Church studies in 2004 would be On
the Paths of Hope accompanied by the Biblical verse Make every effort to
keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:3
In the letter to Church bodies, Altmann said this theme was chosen because
in the visits he made to different synods in the country he perceived
signs of difficulties in the life of our Church, in the local, synod and
However, he was also moved to realize that, despite the difficulties In
the IECLB there is the firm conviction that hope comes from faith in God a
conviction that deserves to be studied and deepened by the IECLB.
Argentine Congress lauds Bishop Pagura
BUENOS AIRES, August 14, 2003 (alc). Evangelical Methodist Bishop emeritus
Federico Jose Pagura was included in the list of the Most Noteworthy of
the nation, recognized by the Argentine Congress.
The president of the congressional Cultural Commission, Hugo Guillermo
Storero announced that Bishop Paguras nomination, presented by Legislator
Alicia Gutierrez, was accepted.
After reviewing his background, the work he carried out, as well as his
social and ethical message, aimed at younger generations, the Commission on
Culture decided to accept his nomination.
Bishop Pagura, who is co-president of the World Council of Churches, will
join the illustrious gallery of the Most Notable, said the statement.
The distinction will be recognized during an annual ceremony in Congress
slated to take place August 22 in the Blue Room in the Congressional
building in Buenos Aires.
Senate gives green light to debate on divorce law
SANTIAGO , August 14, 2003 (alc). The Chilean Senate agreed, 33 votes in
favor and 13 opposed, to give the green light to the debate on the Civil
Matrimony bill that will introduce divorce into this country, one of the
few remaining places in the world where it is not legally possible to
dissolve a marriage.
The current marriage law is 120 years old. Legislators have until October 7
to present any modifications. The bill will then return to the Justice and
Legislation Commission to incorporate any amendments. The discussion began
in 1997 and it is expected to be law by mid-2004.
Commenting on the results of the vote, Cecilia Perez, Minister of the
National Womens Service said it was a historic step. She added that it
is the first time that a legal bill that contemplates the figure of divorce
has reached the second constitutional phase (in the High Chamber) which
demonstrates that there is a broader and more transversal awareness of its
However, the tenacious opposition of the Catholic Church gave rise to noisy
protests on the part of dozens of young people from the so-called Family
Option Movement, who entered the Senate tribunals with the support of
legislators from the Unisn Democratica Independiente (UDI).
The demonstrators were removed three times. The majority were students from
private schools and some from the Los Andes University.
Christian democrat Senator Jorge Lavandero said that divorce does not
attack the family but will in fact strengthen it as it will make it
possible consolidate new marriages.
However, his colleague Jorge Pizarro warned that the project contains a
trap because in order to begin the period that allows one to opt for
divorce there is a need for a judicial resolution and many poor women do
not have the means to file legal suits.
Carlos Bombal (of UDI) argued that the principal problem presented by the
project is that it allows people to obtain a divorce based on a unilateral
decision, something he termed the maximum expression of individualism and
a time bomb for the social fabric.
His colleague Evelyn Matthei voted for the option to legislate but spoke
out against the unilateral divorce. This clause is tremendously damaging.
The most logical would be that the person who is abandoned can turn to it
and not the person who abandons the nuclear family.
Senate President Andres Zaldivar is also opposed to unilateral divorce
and said it should only be valid when it stems from mutual agreement.
Otherwise there will instability of marriage that will threaten family
stability with serious consequences for children, he said.
Christianity needs to render internal accounts, said Conference participants
By Paulo Hebm|ller
SAO PAULO, August 15, 2003 (alc). A total of 740 people from 31 countries
participated in the conference on Christianity in Latin America and the
Caribbean, held between the end of July and early August in Sao Paulo.
The conference was promoted by the Commission to Study Church History in
Latin America (CEHILA), the Catholic University of Sao Paulo, Amerindia,
the Ecumenical Grassroots Education Center (CESEP) and the Theology and
Religious Sciences Society (SOTER).
Together with representatives from different Christian confessions,
academics, who did not necessarily have a Church connection, also attended
the event. Between 10 and 15 percent of the participants were Protestant.
Mexican Methodist Theologian Elsa Tamez said that she was positively
astonished by the Conference. According to Tamez, the 1990s marked a
regression regarding ecumenical dialogue. It was as if everyone was
rethinking his or her internal situation due to the major changes in the
world, she said.
Here, I was very pleased to note another attitude, affirmed the
theologian whose Epistle from Priscilla, a text written like a letter
addressed to the contemporary Church, was one of the most commented
writings at the event. Perhaps this meeting is what we needed to become
reanimated, she said.
Israel Batista, Cuban Methodist Pastor and general secretary of the Latin
American Council of Churches (CLAI) said that there is a need for an
ecumenical movement within Churches themselves as even historic
Protestant denominations have different currents and lines.
This does not mean not continuing with the Catholic-Protestant dialogue,
but in CLAI we have been interested in recovering the Evangelical
face. Sometimes we are more interested in speaking with others than with
the Evangelical who is at our side, he said. It is important to remember
that it was the Holy Spirit that brought us to this event, and the XXI
Century is the Century of the Spirit, he affirmed.
Anglican Priest the Rev Luis Caetano Greco Teixeira, regional CLAI
secretary in Brazil, noted that there are currently several models of
ecumenism in the country and the Church needs to decide which road it is
going to take.
In his opinion, one of these models prioritizes a very institutional
relationship among Churches, with a Lutheran-Catholic hegemony. Others are
based on grassroots and local communities, something that is manifested in
studies, reflections and joint service activities.
In 2004, CLAI Brazil will hold a national consultation to discuss different
visions of ecumenism. The event will include sectors from Pentecostal
Church and even denominations that declare themselves to be non-ecumenical.
Pastor Rolf Sch|nemann, second vice president of the Evangelical Church of
the Lutheran Confession of Brazil said that in the future, the Pentecostal
perspective of spirituality will be reflected in the restructuring of
The future of ecumenical and inter-religious relations should be oriented
toward the forging the trust that will allow historic, Pentecostal and
other denominations to break down barriers and prejudices, based on new
ways of working on the Biblical-Evangelical dimension of the Christian
faith, he said.
He said that Christianity is not a majority in the world, something that
Conference participants recognized, and warned Christianitys credibility
is going through internal rendering of accounts.
Among Protestants, the evaluation of the current situation of ecumenical
relations, based on the Conference, indicates the need to include new
currents, tendencies both in terms of thought and practice within Latin
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