Carmelo Alvarez - Venezuela
The Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela is celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2007-2008. A series of events, conferences and consultations are taking place in different parts of the country. Just recently, in 23-26 August 2007, took place the II Bolivarian Pentecostal Congress and the Annual Convention, both events designed to start this year-long celebration. A 24-member delegation from the Rocky Mountain Region and Conference of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, presided by the Regional Minister, Rev. Ron Parker, and Conference Minister, Rev. Tom Rehling, join the enthusiastic delegates coming from many states in Venezuela. The Common Global Ministries was represented by Dr. David Vargas and his wife Margie, and Rev Félix Ortíz, Area Executive for Latin America and the Caribbean.
We all enjoy moments of real Pentecostal music and praise, young delegates sharing their talents and joys, old folks enjoying a music festival. And we also had moments of reflection, prayer, anointing and Holy Communion. The integration of these elements and the discipline and enthusiasm of all delegates provided for a big time of celebration.
There were two moments that really are, in my opinion, the highlights of this Convention. On opening night Mirna Vies, Regional Director of the Ministry of Education in Lara State, representing the government of Venezuela, announced to the Convention that by decision of the Ministry of Education and the State government of Lara it was decided to name a Bolivarian school in the city of Barquisimeto, Rev. Exeario Sosa Luján, honoring the founder of the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela. It was an intense and emotional moment for us all. Exeario Sosa Luján was a pastor, prophet, teacher, ecumenist, community organizer and visionary recognized by churches and labor unions, and everybody in Venezuela now has the privilege of knowing this great leader. On October 9, 2007 at 8:00 AM a Bolivarian School in Barquisimeto was dedicated and named officially Exeario Sosa Luján.
The second relevant moment came when the Presiding Bishop of the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela, Rev. Gamaliel Lugo, announced in a plenary session that Rev. Amelia Rodríguez Sosa, widow of Exeario Sosa Luján, by decision of the Executive Committee of the UEPV, was named Bishop Emeritus of the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela. The congregation approved the decision by acclamation with a prolonged standing ovation. Rev. Amelia Rodríguez has been a pastor of local congregations, national president of the Women's Missionary Union and a talented musician and choir director. She also raised a family that to this day is actively involved at all levels in the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela.
As we honor these two faithful servants of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we are reminded of that biblical teaching that says: "If anyone would be first, he [or she] must be last of all and servant of all." (Mark 9:35). We praise God for the dedication and commitment of this couple, teaching us to be humble servants in God's reign.
Carmelo Alvarez serves as a missionary affiliate appointed by the Common Global Ministries Board of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ to serve with the Latin American Evangelical Pentecostal Commission (CEPLA) and the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela (UEPV) based in Chicago, Illinois. He serves as program consultant and visiting professor for the Latin American Pentecostal Commission (CEPLA) and the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela (UEPV).