Chile: LWF Vice-President Rojas Appointed Chaplain to Presidential Palace

Rev. Dr Gloria Rojas Vargas during the 2013 LWF Council meeting. Photo: LWF/S. Gallay
Rev. Dr Gloria Rojas Vargas during the 2013 LWF Council meeting. Photo: LWF/S. Gallay

Creative Witness of the Church

(LWI) – LWF Vice President Rev. Dr Gloria Rojas Vargas has been appointed chaplain to the presidential palace in Chile. The appointment was issued by Chile President Michelle Bachelet on 14 May.

Rev. Rojas was the first woman ordained into the pastoral ministry of the IELC in 1985. She later became the first female President of the Church in 2001–2011. At a regional level, she was the first female leader that took on the role of moderator of the Bishops and Presidents Conference of LWF member churches in Latin America and the Caribbean. She is the first female LWF Vice-President of the region.

As chaplain to the Palace La Moneda, the seat of the Government of the Republic of Chile, Dr Rojas will be responsible for the pastoral care of the palace employees and the organization of worship services.

Since 1999 a law granted equal legal status to all churches and religions registered in Chile. As part of the implementation of that law, the government has instituted a Roman Catholic and an evangelical chaplaincy for the presidential palace.  Of Chile’s 16 million people, approximately 17 percent are Protestants. The IELC has 3,000 members and is served by 13 pastors, who are also engaged in social ministry and inter-religious dialogue.

“Peace and Justice for All”

In announcing the appointment of Vargas as chaplain to the presidential palace, the President of  the IELC Rev. Luis Jorge Alvarez, said the church is praying that Dr Rojas’ pastoral work and prayers will rise like incense to the heavens.

“Our joy and prayer as Protestant and evangelical people, will accompany our sister pastor in the prophetic words of peace and justice for all who dwell in or come to our homeland, without exclusion or discrimination,” Alvarez said.

LWF President Bishop Dr Munib A. Younan expressed “pride and great joy” at the appointment of Rev. Rojas. Younan said that the position was well deserved, and reminded him of the words of St. Paul, who said, (1 Cor. 12: 26): “If one member is honoured, all rejoice together with it.”

“Your appointment is but another assurance that the strength of the Church is nether in its numbers nor in its size, but the strength of the Church of God is the holistic witness to our Lord Jesus Christ that we carry in our societies,” Younan said.

“The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Chile (IELC) is a vivid example of that creative witness in which it serves its society” the LWF president noted.

Younan concluded: “Our Lutheran communion will pray for you and your ministry, so that God may give you strength and wisdom for this demanding ministry.”