The World Council of Churches (WCC) mourns the passing of Maria Phaxsi Chavez Quispe, a consultant for the WCC’s Indigenous People’s Programme. Chavez passed away peacefully July 24 in Liestal, Switzerland, after a long battle with breast cancer.
Born in 1975, Chavez was a lay person from the Methodist Church of Bolivia, and also a theologian and biblical scholar. She joined the Geneva-based WCC in December 2008.
Before joining the WCC, Chavez taught at several theological institutions and was deeply involved in grassroots advocacy for the rights of indigenous peoples. As an active member of social movements, she mobilized groups of women in local churches.
Chavez was also sat on the advisory committee of the WCC publication The Ecumenical Review.
In his tribute to Chavez, the Rev. Dr. Olav Fykse Tveit, WCC general secretary, said: “Maria was born in Bolivia in La Paz, which means peace. She came to us at the WCC in peace. She worked for peace. And finally, she left us with a deeper understanding of what peace means.
“Through her focused and faithful work in theological reflection and in advocacy for just and inclusive communities-in particular for indigenous peoples-as well as her gentle demeanour and collegiality, the World Council of Churches, the ecumenical movement and likewise the WCC staff community have been made stronger and richer. Maria’s life and witness fully embodied the prayer, ‘God of Life, lead us to justice and peace.’ She truly will be missed.”
Chavez is survived by her husband, Hansueli Meier, and daughter, Zoe.