The Rev Nilton Giese, a Lutheran pastor from Brazil, has been named as the new General Secretary of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI), following the resignation of its previous top official in 2008.
"The aim is to consider national witness as a priority, to get closer to the national church reality and, taking up these challenges, to shape an action plan for the programmes and regional desks of CLAI," said Giese in a statement after his election during a meeting of the church grouping's board of directors which took place between 19 -22 March in Lima, Peru.
In addition to his current work as CLAI's communication director, Giese has been acting General Secretary since February 2008. This followed the resignation of the previous holder of the post, the Rev. Israel Batista, along with six other staff members from the church body that groups about 140 mainly Protestant churches in Latin America and the Caribbean, and whose headquarters are in Quito, Ecuador.
"We feel blessed by God after a very difficult year for CLAI in 2008. I can see that God is calling us to a new phase," said Bishop Julio Ernesto Murray, the Anglican bishop of Panama, and president of CLAI's board of directors, the Latin American and Caribbean Communications Agency (ALC) reported on 24 March.
Forty-nine year old Giese, from the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession in Brazil, is married and has one adult daughter.
He studied theology at the Lutheran Seminary in Sao Leopoldo in Brazil and has taught at the Matanzas Protestant seminary in Cuba, as well as serving as a pastor in Cuba, Brazil and Costa Rica
Giese's predecessor, Batista, a Methodist from Cuba, took up his office in 1999. He had previously worked in Geneva, Switzerland, for the World Council of Churches.
[With acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches.]