|Methodists in Puerto Rico elect new bishop|
The Rev. Rafael Moreno Rivas (left) was elected bishop of the Methodist
Church of Puerto Rico, succeeding Bishop Juan A. Vera (right), whose
term expires Jan. 1. A UMNS photo courtesy of the Methodist Church of
By Elliott Wright*
Nov. 20, 2009
A clergyman who is also a trained musician will be the next spiritual leader of the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico.
The autonomous Methodist Church of Puerto Rico traces its roots to
missionaries from the United States around 1900. It was for many years
linked to what is today the United Methodist Church, becoming fully
autonomous in 1992. The church has some 12,000 members and 170 pastors.
It is a member of the World Council of Churches and continues strong
fraternal relations with the United Methodist Board of Global
The Rev. Rafael Moreno Rivas, pastor of the University Methodist Church
in Rio Piedras since 2000, was elected bishop Nov. 14 at a special
session of the church’s General Conference.
He will take office on Jan. 1, when the term of Bishop Juan A. Vera
expires. Bishops in the Puerto Rican Methodist Church serve six-year
Moreno was raised in Santurce. In his biography, he describes himself
as a little boy as “tall, skinny, and black.” He grew up in a Methodist
home and showed early ability in music. He worked nine years as a music
teacher and was ordained as a Methodist deacon in 1978 and as an elder
The new bishop was the pastor of eight congregations in the years
between 1978 and today. He served as a delegate to the United Methodist
General Conference prior to autonomy, and was a district superintendent
Moreno attended the University of Puerto Rico in Rio Piedras and the
Music Conservatory of Puerto Rico, receiving a degree in vocal
performance in 1974. He has a master’s degree in music education from
the University of Illinois and graduated from the Christian Theological
Seminary in Puerto Rico in 1980.
He also earned a doctorate in religion, culture and social behavior
from Boston University in 1998. He noted that despite all his degrees
and years in higher education, he remains a “full-time student at
the ‘Yahweh School of Daily Living.’”
Moreno expects that his particular style of leadership as bishop will
focus on pastoral care, “rooted in personal, authentic life experiences
with Jesus Christ, anchored in the Bible as God’s word, interpreted in
the Wesleyan tradition.”
*Wright is the information officer of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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