CONSECRATION OF FIRST ASIAN ANGLICAN BISHOP IN LATIN AMERICA
Archdeacon Raphael Samuel was formally consecrated as the Diocesan Bishop of Bolivia at a Sunday morning service of the eucharist at Cristo Luz Del Mundo (Light of the World). The Presiding Bishop of the Southern Cone of the Americas, the Rt Rev Hector “Tito” together with the Bishops from Peru, Uruguay and Paraguay led in the consecration of the new Bishop of Bolivia. Bishop Raphael succeeds Bishop Frank Lyons who left the diocese of Bolivia last year to serve in the Diocese of Pittsburgh
The election of Archdeacon Raphael Samuel as the Bishop of Bolivia represents a landmark in church missions in that he is the first Asian missionary to be consecrated diocesan Bishop in the Spanish speaking Anglican world.
Bishop Raphael Samuel, is a Singapore clergyman sent by the Diocese of Singapore to serve in Bolivia. He and his wife, Michelle, are the longest-serving missionaries in the Bolivian Anglican Church.
Raphael, a Singaporean Tamil, was born in January 16th 1957. He was raised in a traditional Anglican parish and received Christ when he was a teenager. He hails from several generations of Anglicans and was educated in a Methodist school. After formal studies, he joined the Singapore Navy in 1974, after which he responded to the Lord’s call to serve in the Anglican Church in 1980. At this juncture, a life-changing experience of the Holy Spirit, left a deep and lasting impression on his life. As part of his preparation for full-time ministry, he studied theology for 4 years at Trinity Theological College, where he and Michelle met. The communal setting at St Peter’s Hall, an Anglican institute for ministerial training in the campus at Trinity, served as an integral part of his formation as a priest in the Anglican Church.
In 1991, the national director of Bolivian Church, Rev Greg Blaxland, visited Singapore with a view to raise missionary candidates for the work in Bolivia. At a meeting with the Singaporean clergy, he shared the need for ordained pastors to serve as missionaries in Bolivia.
Raphael, a pastor of a congregation, had already considered the possibility of serving in Latin America prior to Greg’s visit to Singapore. A few years earlier, SAMS Australia’s General Secretary, Rev Ted Newing had counseled him to pray and wait for the Lord’s timing. The invitation from Bolivia came as a confirmation of God´s calling to serve in Latin America. Bishop Moses Tay, the former bishop of Singapore, played an active role in forging links between the diocese of Singapore and the work in Bolivia.
Raphael, Michelle and their 3-year old son, Elijah, arrived in Bolivia in January 4th 1993. He and Michelle spent 6 months studying Spanish and the intricacies of cross cultural work at the Maryknoll Language Institute in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Since then, Raphael, has worked actively in the Bolivian diocese on several levels. He served as pastor of a congregation in Santa Cruz, and as Archdeacon of the diocese; has helped the Bolivian church acquire diocesan status, started new works; raised leaders, and assisted local clergy to assume the leadership of the congregations. Raphael completed his Masters in Theology in Spanish in 2010 and is working on further post graduate studies in the area of family counseling.
His wife, Michelle, is actively involved in various ministries in the church, especially in the area of worship and the creative arts. Their son, Elijah, is due to graduate from a university in Singapore this year.