Aymara Indian Methodist bishop becomes a Bolivian ambassador

By Ecumenical News International
June 30, 2007

click hereMethodist Bishop Eugenio Poma, an indigenous Aymara Indian from Bolivia, has become his country's ambassador to Denmark. - reports Ecumenical News International (www.eni.ch).

"This is an important contribution to Bolivia and demonstrates our commitment as the people of God to continue contributing to and serving the country," the current head of the Evangelical Methodist Church in Bolivia, Bishop Carlos Poma, was quoted as saying by the Latin American and Caribbean news service ALC.

After serving as bishop of the Methodist church in Bolivia, Eugenio Poma worked from 1995 to 2003 at the Geneva-based World Council of Churches as programme executive for indigenous peoples' issues. He was then based in the Bolivian capital La Paz as coordinator of the indigenous peoples' programme of the WCC and the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI).

Poma's appointment, announced in May, follows the election at the end of 2005 of Evo Morales as Bolivian president. Morales is the first indigenous person to lead his country.

The new president pledged to give a greater voice to Bolivia's indigenous population, who are estimated to make up more than half of the country's 9 million people but who are said to feel that they have been systematically excluded from decision-making since the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century

In his autobiography, "Journey to Dignity", Poma recalls how he was the first Aymara Indian from his village on the Altiplano of Bolivia to attend high school. His journey included teaching in a tough area of Chicago, returning to Bolivia, and working with the Methodist Church, serving ultimately as its bishop.

About 95 percent of Bolivians are estimated to be Roman Catholic. Protestants account for almost all of the remainder. The majority of members of the Methodist church in Bolivia belong to the Aymara community.

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