The Latin American Council of Churches, known under its Spanish acronym CLAI, has elected Panamanian Episcopal (Anglican) Bishop Julio Murray as its first black president in a tightly-contested election.
“This is a new day for CLAI,” the 48 year-old Bishop Murray said after his election. “You are going to find a new direction here.”
The voting took place on Feb. 22 at Ward College in the city of Ramos Mejia, on the outskirts of Buenos Aires during the 5th assembly of CLAI, with different regions represented in the council jockeying for different candidates.
“I am very happy about this election,” Rev. Antonio Olimpio de Sant’Ana, the executive secretary of Brazil’s National Ecumenical Council to Combat Racism told Ecumenical News International. “We need to have more black people represented in this church body and we also need to have women in the leadership.”
Bishop Murray won after a third run off in voting for the presidency of the 150-member church council that is represented in 20 countries, after he and Pastor Felipe Adolf of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Ecuador each got 66 votes.