Guatemalan Lutherans elect new president

Newly elected President Ignacio Chan of the Lutheran Church in Guatemala.

GUATEMALA – On January 26, 2019, the Lutheran Church in Guatemala (Iglesia Luterana en Guatemala – ILG) elected Rev. Ignacio Chan as its new president during the church’s 2019 Assembly in Cristo Rey.

President Chan President Chan succeeds Rev. Abdiel Orozco Aguirre, who was first elected as president of the ILG in 2015.

The newly elected officers of the Lutheran Church in Guatemala.

Also elected during the 2019 Assembly were Rev. Byron Paz as Vice President, Luís Mazariegos as Secretary, and Efraín García as Treasurer. The new officers were installed on January 26 by Rev. David Rodriguez, a former President of the Guatemalan church. President Chan officially took office on January 30.

“I put myself at your service as a simple and humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord, trusting in your prayers,” said President Chan in an email following his election. “With the help of God, we will work in harmony.”

The International Lutheran Council (ILC), of which the ILG is a member church, sent greetings to President Chan following his election. “Congratulations and God’s blessings on the election in your church,” said ILC Chairman Hans-Jörg Voigt (Bishop of Germany’s Independent Evangelical Lutheran Church). “St. Augustine once wrote on the duties of a bishop as follows: He may ‘reprehend the troublemakers, console the faint-hearted, take care of the weak, refute the adversaries, beware of entrapment, arouse the languid, restrain those looking for quarrels, put the vain in their proper place, appease those who argue with one another, teach the uneducated, help the poor, set free those oppressed, encourage the good, bear with the wicked, and—oh—love them all.’ May God give you this love!”

The Lutheran Church in Guatemala has approximately 4,000 members in congregations throughout Guatemala.

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Attack kills one, wounds President Emeritus of Lutheran Church in Guatemala

President Emeritus Eduardo Bonilla Porras (Image: Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brazil.)
President Emeritus Eduardo Bonilla (Image: Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brazil.)

GUATEMALA – The President Emeritus of the Lutheran Church in Guatemala (LCG) has been wounded and another church member was killed after unknown assailants opened fire on their vehicle Friday, November 21.

President Emeritus Eduardo Bonilla and Franciso Paxtor (Synodical Secretary for the LCG) had earlier in the day taken part in an anniversary service at New Jerusalem Lutheran Church in Chajabel, where Rev. Bonilla had been invited to preach for the special occasion. Their car was attacked while on the drive back to Guatemala City, with both men receiving gun shot wounds. The two were able to drive themselves to the nearest town, from which they were rushed by ambulance to Quetzaltengango.

President Emeritus Bonilla was shot in the chest, with a bullet grazing his lung and missing his heart by centimeters. Francisco Paxtor was shot twice, once in the chest and once in the head. President Emeritus Bonilla was stabilized and transported Sunday by plane for medical care in the capital. He is expected to make a full recovery. Tragically, Paxtor could not be stabilized. He succumbed to his injuries in Quetzaltengango on Sunday.

Local media reports initially suggested the attack might have resulted from land disputes over church properties owned by the LCG. However, LCG President Emeritus Ignacio Chan writes that this is incorrect, further noting that this area of rural Guatemala has seen a number of recent attacks by persons unknown upon the general populace.

“At this time we are deeply grieved and shocked by this violent act on the lives of our dear brothers in Christ,” said Rev. Cornelio Midence, current President of the Lutheran Church in Guatemala. He asks Christians around the world to keep President Emeritus Bonilla and his family in prayer as he recovers from this violent attack, as well to pray for the family of Francisco Paxtor as they grieve his sudden passing.

“Please also remember in your prayers those who committed this act,” President Midence continued. “May God have mercy on them.”

The Lutheran Church in Guatemala is a church body of about 4,000 members. It is a member of the International Lutheran Council, a worldwide association of confessional Lutheran churches.

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Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Francisco Paxtor was a pastor. He was, in fact, a layman.