Dr. Willy Gaspar, a 45-year-old dentist, was ordained and installed as the first pastor of the emerging Dominican Republic Lutheran Mission March 13 at Amigos de Christo Church in Las Americas, near the capital city of Santo Domingo.
Gaspar, who serves as LCMS World Relief and Human Care projects manager overseeing earthquake recovery efforts in Haiti, was colloquized in February by faculty professors of Concordia Seminary of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Argentina (IELA).
“We are grateful to the Lord of the harvest for providing the first man such as Candidate Gaspar for his holy ministry in the Dominican Republic so that His people might be granted repentance and true forgiveness through faith in our dear Lord Jesus Christ,” said Rev. Ted Krey, regional director for Latin America and the Caribbean with LCMS World Mission.
Gaspar and his wife, Santa, began their theological studies in 2005 with Rev. Walter Ries Jr. from Brazil and Danelle Putnam, LCMS World Mission outreach missionary at the Bible Institute in Santo Domingo.
Following their confirmation, the couple started a Sunday school in their garage. Working with Krey, Gaspar helped begin regular Sunday evening services and in 2010 he started confirmation classes with seven people. An additional 10 were confirmed in December and more are waiting to begin new classes.
Currently about 50 to 70 people attend church services held under a small tent on property in Las Americas that was purchased in March 2010. Plans are to have a sanctuary built there this year.
Fluent in Creole, French and Spanish, Gaspar wrote to Reporter about his feelings on becoming a pastor: “I do not remember much the day in my life I finally took the true decision to become pastor. But, what I know, never in my 45 years of my life have I been so happy. The happiest days in my life could be the day of my graduation as doctor of dentistry, or the day I get married, or maybe the day when was born my first daughter; but I can say, all of these happiest days do not mean anything comparing to the joy I am feeling for the ordination because I am in the right way.”
The IELA seminary will oversee all theological training for the developing new Dominican Republic church body whose name is Iglesia Evangelica Luterana Confessional (IELCO) and has agreed to help establish an independent Lutheran seminary in the Dominican Republic by 2017.
In his e-mail, Gaspar listed several reasons for his happiness, including:
- “because I feel the grace of the Lord in my life.”
- “because I am working to share the joy of Christ with others.”
- “because I recognize then I get my full insurance of life from the death of our Lord.”
- “At last, so happy, because I recognize that Jesus is preparing our permanent home for all of us all who recognize that [His] death was not an accident.”
To watch a YouTube video of part of the ordination service, click here.
Posted March 9, 2011/Updated March 30, 2011