LWF Mourns «A Dear Friend and Respected Church Leader»

GENEVA, 11 October 2004 (LWI) Following the death of Rev. Humberto Ramos Salazar, president of the Bolivian Evangelical Lutheran Church (IELB) in a car accident on October 7, the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has expressed deepest sympathy and condolences to his family, the Bolivian church, and the Latin America and Caribbean region.

In a letter to the IELB, LWF General Secretary, Rev. Dr Ishmael Noko described the late Ramos as a dear friend and a respected church leader. Ramos was also moderator of the Conference of Bishops and Presidents (COP) of the 13 LWF member churches in Latin America.

Three other persons – Pastors Juan Zeballos and Ramon Conde, and Sister Verena Welz, a volunteer from Germany died in the accident as they were returning to La Paz from Vilacaya in the department of Potosi. Ramos funeral was held on October 8.

In his letter to the IELB, LWF President, Bishop Mark S. Hanson said Ramos was one of the bright lights among global Lutheran leaders in the world today. He embodied the Lutheran World Federations commitment to Indigenous people leading churches, said Hanson, who is presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Hanson, who recently made his first visit to the Latin America and Caribbean region as LWF President, described Ramos as a visionary leader, compassionate pastor and articulate prophet. The COP Moderator was among the church leaders who received Hanson during his September 11-16 visit to El Salvador, which was organized by the Communion of Lutheran Churches in Central America.

The LWF President recalled Ramos strong position that to be followers of Jesus today means the church must stand with those who live in poverty and those who are victims of injustice. He said Ramos centered his life and ministry in the cross and resurrection of Christ, and it was in the promise of resurrection and new life in Christ that we mourn his death and give thanks to God for his life.

There is no word to express our sadness faced with such a situation of loss, Noko said. Trusting in the powerful promise of resurrection in Jesus Christ, we keep you in our prayers that God uphold you in Gods steadfast love and care and strengthen your faith, he said in his letter to the Bolivian church.

Born on 17 January 1962, Ramos an Indigenous Aymara, became president of the predominantly Indigenous IELB in 1999. The 18,000-member church joined the LWF in 1975.

Ramos is survived by his wife Ana Maria and three children.

President Ramos funeral was attended by several church representatives from the region. The former moderator of the COP, Rev. Angel Furlan, and COP Vice-Moderator Rev. Gloria Rojas, both were present at the funeral. They will be staying on to provide accompaniment to the church and its leaders.

Meanwhile, IELB Vice-President, Rev. Juan Miguel Parapo, will be acting church president. (497 words)

(The LWF is a global communion of Christian churches in the Lutheran tradition. Founded in 1947 in Lund, Sweden, the LWF currently has 138 member churches in 77 countries all over the world, with a membership of nearly 65 million Lutherans. The LWF acts on behalf of its member churches in areas of common interest such as ecumenical and inter-faith relations, theology, humanitarian assistance, human rights, communication, and the various aspects of mission and development work. Its secretariat is located in Geneva, Switzerland.)

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