Friday, May 01, 2009

R.I.P., Victor Mercado, 27 April 2009

My only encounter with Victor Mercado was through my participation in a week-long workshop that he offered on the Baptists in Latin America at the World Mission Conference in Greenlake back in the summer of 1990. Mercado retired six months before I became a volunteer American Baptist missionary in January 1993. Notably, he was the first area director for Latin America to be hired by International Ministries (IM) after American Baptist missions work in Latin America was transfered from the American Baptist Home Missions Society (aka National Ministries) to the American Baptist Foreign Missions Society (aka International Ministries). This was done, in part, out of recognition for the need to shift from a paternalistic approach to mission (in which our Latin American neighbors were viewed as a part of the U.S.'s back yard) to a mission of mutuality. Needless to say, Mercado provided much needed leadership to IM and its national partners in Latin America during this critical period of transition. He will be greatly missed.


VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 4/30/09)—Rev. Víctor Mercado, long-time American Baptist pastor and leader, passed away on Monday, April 27, 2009.

Mercado earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree at the University of Puerto Rico and worked for the General Electric Instrument Corporation before pursuing his seminary training at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico.

After seminary, Mercado served pastorates of churches in Caguas, Trujillo Alto, and Santurce. He also served as the president and treasurer of the Baptist Convention of Puerto Rico, served on the ABC Nominating Committee for several years, and held various positions on the Evangelical Council of Puerto Rico.

In 1975, Mercado joined the board of American Baptist International Ministries as area director for Latin America. He later served as the area director for the Carribbean. His ministry focused on training leaders, strengthening congregations, encouraging inclusivity, and pursuing interdenominational cooperation. He was passionate about a holistic approach to evangelism and church growth, including prophetic and justice concerns. In 1984, Mercado was named the associate director of the Overseas Division of International Ministries.

In 1992, to honor his distinguished work in Latin America, Mercado received the Arturo Parajon Order award—the highest distinction granted by the Baptist Convention of Nicaragua. He received an honorary doctoral degree, “Honoris Causa”, in Latin American Theology, from the Baptist Seminary of Mexico. He also received numerous other honors and commendations from various American Baptist organizations, including the Hispanic Caucus and the Baptist Churches of Puerto Rico.

When Mercado joined International Ministries, he commenting on how he viewed his ministry in the ABC, saying, “I see my work as being an interpreter to American Baptists, and of finding ways to help Hispanic people. Not all Hispanic people are alike; each country and group has its differences, and we must learn about them.”

Mercado knew how to defend and give a privileged place to ABC mission partners in Latin America and the Caribbean, where he was considered a champion of their cause. He interpreted the missionary cause as key to liberation, integrity and dignity.

Reid Trulson, executive director of International Ministries, said, "Victor was a wonderful inspiration. His strong voice for justice was both powerful and prophetic. He leaves a rich legacy of faith and leadership in the American Baptist Churches, and his work will continue to bless International Ministries and our partners for years to come. He will be missed."

Said American Baptist General Secretary A. Roy Medley, “Rev. Mercado was a tireless voice for economic and political justice. While his words were not always easy to hear, they were always offered out of concern for the well-being of the poor and oppressed, the health of the nations, and the integrity of the Church of Jesus Christ. It was my personal privilege to have worked with Rev. Mercado when he served with International Ministries and I with National Ministries. Through our conversations and our work together, he stretched my thinking, deepened my concepts of justice, and broadened my perspective. For this, I am forever grateful. We in the American Baptist Churches were made a better denomination and better disciples of Jesus because of Victor.”

A viewing was held at Primera Iglesia Bautista de Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, on Wednesday, April 29, followed by a memorial service celebrating Mercado’s life and ministry, and a funeral service was held April 30 at the Funeraria Ehret in Rio Piedras.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home