Statement of Thomas Kemper on the Death of Emilio Castro
Thomas Kemper, chief mission executive of The United Methodist Church, joined other Christian leaders in paying tribute to the Rev. Dr. Emilio Castro, a Methodist from Uruguay who was one of the leading figures in ecumenical Christian mission in the last half of the 20th century. Dr. Castro died on April 6 in Montevideo just shy of his 86th birthday. He was on the staff of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland, for some 20 years and served as general secretary from 1985 to 1992. He was a clergy member of the Methodist Church of Uruguay.
Kemper, who heads the General Board of Global Ministries, said:
“Emilio Castro helped shape a holistic understanding of evangelism and mission. He was instrumental in the framing of the statement Mission and Evangelism: An Ecumenical Affirmation, issued in 1982—a statement that has served well for 30 years. It contained all the right points: refocusing conversion, recognizing the role of the poor in Christian life, and preparing Christians to live with and among adherents of other faiths. The statement profoundly declared, ‘In a world where so many find little meaning, except in the relative security of their affluence, how necessary it is to hear once again Jesus’ invitation to discipleship, service and risk!’
“Dr. Castro’s work and example were instrumental in the education of my generation of missionaries and mission thinkers. He was one of the first international mission leaders to come from Latin America, and he will remain an inspiration for years to come.
“We give thanks for Emilio Castro’s life and witness and remember his family at this time of loss.”
Kemper was a missionary in Brazil for eight years and led the mission work of The United Methodist Church in Germany before coming to the General Board of Global Ministries as general secretary in early 2010.