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Bishop Raimundo Arms Valenzuela: In Memoriam
Oct-9-08 11:08 pm

Bishop Raimundo Valenzuela died at the age of 92 on September 28. His son, my colleague Professor Arturo Valenzuela, was kind to send me his biography. Here are some excerpts:
Raimundo Valenzuela Arms, Bishop Emeritus of the Methodist Church of Chile, and retired professor of the Comunidad Teológica Evangélica of Santiago, passed away peacefully in his sleep at the age of 92 on September 28th in Gaithersburg, Md., where he lived with Dorothy Bowie, his wife of 68 years, at Asbury Methodist Village.

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Since its founding by American missionaries, the Chilean Methodist Church depended for its finances and Episcopal appointments on the North East Conference of the Methodist Church in the United States, and subsequently on an administrative structure linking Southern Cone Methodist churches to the Board of Global Missions in New York.  In the late 1960s, Valenzuela helped spearhead the creation the autonomous Methodist Church of Chile with a direct affiliation to the General Conference of the Methodist Church, while helping to write the statutes of the Methodist Corporation of Chile. 

At the first annual conference of the restructured church, Valenzuela was elected its first bishop for a four-year term.  He was the responsible for the daily operations of the Church under the new statutes, and represented the Church internationally and domestically, placing particular emphasis on forging ecumenical dialogue.  The years of his Episcopal leadership coincided with the most critical and politically polarized moments in the history of Chile, and Bishop Valenzuela’s calls for moderation and a peaceful settlement of differences went unheeded.  As the military dictatorship began in September 1973, he joined Cardinal Silva Henríquez, Lutheran Bishop Helmut Frenz, and other religious leaders in forming the above noted Committee for Peace.  He also assisted in feeding people who took asylum in foreign embassies, a task undertaken by Diakonía, a social service organization he founded and presided.  In the process Diakonía helped people persecuted for their beliefs reach the safety of embassy walls.  He protested against arbitrary arrests and mistreatments of prisoners at a meeting of religious authorities with the Minister of the Interior of the time, and helped numerous people to safety through foreign exile.
He was clearly a remarkable man, who lived a remarkable life.

About the editor:

Anthony Clark Arend

Professor

Commentary and analysis at the intersection of international law and politics.

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» Learn more about the M.A. in International Law and Government at Georgetown University.


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