Margarita Martinez, Bishop of ELCA Caribbean Synod, Dies

3/12/2007 12:00:00 AM

     CHICAGO (ELCA) -- The Rev. Margarita Martinez, bishop of the
Caribbean Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
(ELCA), died March 11 of cancer in Bayamon, Puerto Rico.  She was
59.  Funeral services will be held March 13-14 at Resurrection
Lutheran Church, Carolina, Puerto Rico.
     "Bishop Margarita Martinez challenged us to confront the
barriers we erect to divide us from one another and to cross
those barriers for the sake of reconciliation.  In her leadership
of the Caribbean Synod she gave us a vision of a more inclusive
and multicultural church.  In ecumenical relationships she
modeled the gifts of women in ministry and leadership.  She was a
strong mentor and spiritual friend to countless young people and
newly ordained pastors.  Deeply centered in the community of the
church gathered around the means of grace, she exuded joy as she
presided and preached," said the Rev. Mark S. Hanson, presiding
bishop of the ELCA.
     Martinez appointed the Rev. Francisco L. Sosa as acting
bishop of the synod Aug. 28, 2006, when information about her
declining health was disclosed.  Sosa preceded Martinez as the
synod's bishop.
     Born in New York, Martinez earned a bachelor's degree in
business administration from Universidad Mundial, Hato Rey,
Puerto Rico, in 1979.  She earned a master's degree in business
administration there in 1982, and earned a master of divinity
degree in 1989 from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at
Philadelphia -- one of eight seminaries of the ELCA.
     After her ordination in 1989, Martinez served as pastor at
Iglesia Evangelica Luterana Bethel, Dorado, Puerto Rico, and
Iglesia Evangelica Luterana San Marcos, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
She served as secretary of the ELCA Caribbean Synod from 1991 to
     Martinez was a voting member at the 1995 ELCA Churchwide
Assembly in Minneapolis, and she was elected an ELCA delegate to
the 1997 Lutheran World Federation Assembly in Hong Kong.  From
1997 to 1999, Martinez served as associate director for global
events, ELCA Global Mission.  The ELCA Caribbean Synod elected
Martinez to a six-year term as bishop in 2001.  At the time of
her election she was a mission developer at Cristo El Senor
Lutheran Mission, Cayey, Puerto Rico.
     Martinez is survived by one adult child, a brother and
     The ELCA Caribbean Synod has 6,140 baptized members in 34
congregations in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

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