Tribute to Rev. Carlos Duarte, Pastor President of the Evangelical Church of the River Plate

Rev. Carlos A. Duarte preaching at the closing worship of the 2016 synod of IERP. Photo: IERP/Eugenio Albrecht
Rev. Carlos A. Duarte preaching at the closing worship of the 2016 synod of IERP. Photo: IERP/Eugenio Albrecht

A committed and caring leader

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has extended its condolences upon the death of Reverend Carlos Alfredo Duarte Voelker, Pastor President of the Evangelical Church of the River Plate (IERP) in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. He is remembered as a human rights defender, for his commitment to aboriginal communities, families living with HIV/AIDS, his passion for climate justice, and for his ecumenical engagement.

Rev. Duarte died in the early morning on 21 January in Mar del Plata after being admitted four days earlier to the regional hospital’s intensive care unit following a stroke. Duarte was 62 years old. He leaves behind his wife Irene Weinzettel and two children, Alicia and Ariel.

After studies in Buenos Aires and ordination in Rosario, Santa Fé, in 1985, he served IERP parishes communities in Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Ecumenical engagement

“Carlos was a humble leader and very committed to peace with justice,” Rev. Dr Patricia Cuyatti, Area Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean of The Lutheran World Federation (LWF), wrote in a condolence letter sent to the church. “His self-sacrificing work for human dignity affirms the principles of life and dignity, and led him to warmly embrace many people throughout his pastoral ministry.”

Carlos was a humble leader and very committed to peace with justice. His self-sacrificing work for human dignity affirms the principles of life and dignity led him to warmly embrace many people throughout his pastoral ministry.
Rev. Dr Patricia Cuyatti, LWF Area Secretary for Latin America and the Caribbean

Duarte served as Vice-President of the church for several years before he was elected president of IERP in 2010. "I am one more link in a long chain that started back in Jerusalem with twelve guys who didn’t know what to do because their boss had died. And suddenly they discovered the light, the hope that things don’t end with death,” Duarte said when he was elected to the office of president.

As a church president, he also participated in the Ecumenical Movement for Human Rights (MEDH). He was a member of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI) and of the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches (WCC)

Signs of hope

In his Christmas message to IERP in December, Duarte emphasized Jesus’ authority and the actions that brought him to the cross. “Jesus did not choose to save himself [...] rather Jesus chose to save the entire creation, including us,” wrote Duarte, reflecting on Jesus as a prophet, healer and master, who was close to people in need. He also said in the message that "in our present days with so many invoking violence as a way, discrimination as a method, and lies as the foundational stone of all what they do, we need to persevere in our affirmation of life as a feast that is ‘pleasant’ to God."

“His theological-pastoral articulations will live in the hearts and minds of those of us who had the honour of listening to him”, the LWF condolence letter concludes.

Pastor President Duarte’s funeral will be held on Tuesday 23 January at 8:30 at the Congregación Evangélica de Crespo church in Entre Ríos. The church is also the very place where he was elected in October 2010 by the representatives of over 240 communities of the church.