PerezThe Rev. Angel L. Perez, an LCMS leader in His­pan­ic min­istry, died Nov. 24 at his home in in Apop­ka, Fla., after a long, debil­i­tat­ing ill­ness. Perez was 68.

A memo­r­i­al ser­vice was held Dec. 2 at Ascen­sion Luther­an Church in Cas­sel­ber­ry, Fla., with a com­mit­tal ser­vice at High­land Mem­o­ry Gar­dens, Apopka.

Perez, who served as the Synod’s coun­selor for His­pan­ic min­istry from 1994 to 1998, was respon­si­ble for help­ing LCMS dis­tricts to equip con­gre­ga­tions to begin new His­pan­ic mis­sions. In 1998 he left that post to become an LCMS mis­sion­ary to Puer­to Rico, where he served until 2002. From 2002 to until his retire­ment in 2008, he was a mis­sion­ary for GOSPEL Mis­sion in Orlan­do, Fla.

Born and raised in Puer­to Rico, Perez stud­ied at the Synod’s Con­cor­dia uni­ver­si­ties in Austin, Texas, and Riv­er For­est, Ill., before com­plet­ing col­lo­quy require­ments for ordi­na­tion through Con­cor­dia Sem­i­nary, St. Louis, in 1985.

In 1994, as pres­i­dent of the Synod’s Stand­ing Com­mit­tee for His­pan­ic Min­istry, Perez helped launch the first LCMS His­pan­ic mis­sion soci­ety, the Nation­al Soci­ety for His­pan­ic Mis­sions. Perez also served from 1994 to 1998 as chair­man of the Luther­an His­pan­ic Conference.

Oth­er ser­vice to the church includes work as a mis­sion­ary to His­pan­ic peo­ple for the LCMS Okla­homa Dis­trict (1991−97) and as pas­tor of El Buen Pas­tor Luther­an Church in Cleve­land (1986−91); Cristo Rey Luther­an Church, Okla­homa City (1991−97); Principe de Paz, Mayaguez, Puer­to Rico (1997−2002) and Ascen­sion Luther­an Church, Cas­sel­ber­ry (2002−08).

The Rev. Dr. Dou­glas R. Groll, for­mer direc­tor of the His­pan­ic Insti­tute of The­ol­o­gy, now Cen­ter for His­pan­ic Stud­ies, at Con­cor­dia Sem­i­nary and who con­tin­ues to teach there part time in his retire­ment, met Perez — a teller of “good jokes” — in 1978 after return­ing to the U.S. from mis­sion­ary ser­vice in Venezuela.

“Through­out the ’60s and ’70s there were stri­dent voic­es with­in the Puer­to Rican com­mu­ni­ties in most east­ern cities, decry­ing hous­ing dis­crim­i­na­tion and gen­er­al civ­il-rights abus­es against Lati­nos in gen­er­al and Puer­to Ricans in par­tic­u­lar,” Groll said. “Even with­in Cleve­land there were angry fire­brands who became quite vocal. Angel knew them all and was always able to extend an arm of love and under­stand­ing and was a gen­tle bridge of peace between Lati­nos who dis­agreed with one anoth­er and between Lati­nos and the Anglo com­mu­ni­ties who real­ly did not under­stand the prob­lem at all. Angel was a peacemaker.”

Groll added that Perez’s min­istry “was always that of the love of God in His Son, Jesus Christ. Angel always preached that and lived that. He rejoic­es with his Sav­ior now, but we will miss him.”

Sur­vivors include Perez’s wife, Maria; five chil­dren: Luis (Eliz­a­beth), Sta­cy (Car­men), Michael, Ricar­do (Kandyce) and Vic­to­ria (Ben­ny) Romero; sev­en grand­chil­dren; and five great-grandchildren.