The World Council of Churches (WCC) has congratulated Rev. Dr Carlos Emilio Ham on becoming president of the Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cuba. Ham, a pastor of the Presbyterian-Reformed Church in Cuba, served the WCC as programme executive in various areas from 2001 to 2013.
The decision came at a meeting of the board of the Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary held on 10 February, which also named Dr Clara Luz Ajo Lázaro of the Episcopal Church of Cuba as vice-president of the Seminary. The new leadership will serve for the period from June 2015 to June 2018. Their installation will take place during the seminary’s graduation ceremony on 10 June 2015.
Ham, while based in Geneva, worked for the WCC in the areas of mission and evangelism, as well as diakonia and regional relations for Latin America and the Caribbean.
Quoting Professor Hans Ruedi Weber’s understanding of the WCC’s Ecumenical Institute, at Bossey in Switzerland, as the “laboratory of the ecumenical movement”, Ham also conceived of the Matanzas Seminary as a laboratory of ecumenical theological education in Cuba. “Inspired by God’s grace, following its rich heritage and supported by a fully engaged working team and by committed partners,” Ham hopes to “lift a continuing vision for the Seminary that is enthused by 1 Corinthians 12:4-9,” he said.
This vision, Ham explains, highlights ecumenism, implying a diversity of gifts but with the same Spirit, a variety of services but the same Lord. “This vision also includes spirituality, with the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good, and formation which promotes the utterance of wisdom and knowledge according to the same Spirit,” said Ham. “These are major missional priorities for the churches in the current Cuban kairos, which the seminary helps to facilitate,” he added.
“It is with pleasure that we have received the news of Carlos Ham being elected to lead the Matanzas Evangelical Theological Seminary in Cuba,” said Georges Lemopoulos, WCC acting general secretary. “We congratulate Carlos for taking up this significant responsibility in his new Christian ministry, through which we hope and pray that he will be able to transform the hearts and minds of many,” he said.
“We pray God to strengthen Carlos, guide him and accompany him in his new ministry, as he continues to carry on his ecumenical journey,” Lemopoulos added.
The Seminario Evangélico de Teología (SET) was established in Matanzas as an ecumenical pastoral training center. The Methodist, Presbyterian and Episcopal churches founded the Evangelical Seminary in 1946. It is governed by a board of directors elected from two of the establishing denominations - the Episcopal and Presbyterian churches, and it is a member of the Cuban Council of Churches.