GUATEMALA – Guatemalan Lutherans are mourning the death of Rev. Dr. Abdiel Orozco Aguirre, former president of the Lutheran Church in Guatemala (Iglesia Luterana en Guatemala – ILG). Dr. Orozco recently contracted COVID-19 and was hospitalized after his condition worsened. He slipped into a coma, eventually passing away on January 22, 2021.
“Brothers, our beloved pastor, Abdiel Orozco, is now in the presence of the Lord,” his congregation, Iglesia Luterana Castillo Feurte (Mighty Fortress Lutheran Church) wrote on social media announcing his death. “And it is the Lord who will allow us all to meet together in heaven.”
“This news is sad for the Lutheran Church in Guatemala,” said ILG President Ignacio Chan in a message to international church leaders. He expressed “sincere thanks for your prayers and comfort” in this time.
Dr. Orozco came to the ministry later in life, having spent many years as a medical doctor and immunohematologist. He received his medical degree from the Universidad de San Carlos de Gautemala, and eventually became an advisor to Guatemala’s ministry of health. While serving in that role, he pursued master’s studies at Cornell University (New York City, New York) and a doctorate in hematology from the University of Houston (Houston, Texas). He subsequently became the head of Guatemala’s national network of blood banks, a position in which he served for more than a decade.
Despite being the son of a Presbyterian pastor, Dr. Orozco did not attend church during his university days. While in Houston, however, he was introduced to the Lutheran faith. When he returned to Guatemala after his studies, he became involved with a Lutheran mission plant which was just beginning in Guatemala City.
Dr. Orozco began studies for the pastoral ministry a number of years later in 2007, and was ordained into the pastoral ministry in 2012 (he completed his service as head of Guatemala’s blood banks in 2011). In 2015, he was elected president of the ILG, a position to which he was reelected in 2017. He completed his tenure as ILG president in 2019.
In addition to serving two terms as president of the ILG, Dr. Orozco also served as National Director for the Lutheran Center for Theological Studies (Centro Luterano De Estudios Teologicos – CLET). As a testament to his continued interest in higher education, Dr. Aguirre recently received a Master of Arts from Concordia Seminary (St. Louis, Missouri) in 2020.
Two devotional services for Dr. Orozco were held on January 24, 2021. A funeral service was held on January 25—the date on which Dr. Orozco would have turned 63 years old. To accommodate health regulations, the services were also broadcast online.
The Lutheran Church in Guatemala is a member church of the International Lutheran Council (ILC), a global association of confessional Lutheran churches.