LOUISVILLE (PNS) — After nearly a half-century of service to the Church, the Rev. José Luis Casal, director of Presbyterian World Mission, has announced his plan to retire, effective Aug. 15.
“José Luis championed World Mission with imagination, enthusiasm and a deep love of Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. Dr. Diane Moffett, executive director and president of the Presbyterian Mission Agency. “I want to extend my deep gratitude to him for two years of service to the mission agency and 48 years of service to the Church.”
In his remaining 2½ months, Casal will wrap up his work with staff and global partners aimed at setting a new course for World Mission’s work around the world. He will leave after the conclusion of World Mission’s strategic planning process, which began last fall.
“The prospect of retirement fills me with both joy and sadness,” Casal said. “Joy, because retirement allows me to spend more time with my family. I’m also relieved that I will not have to participate in so many meetings here and overseas and can spend more time taking better care of myself after a challenging year of health problems. But, of course, I feel sadness leaving the important work of the mission agency and my friends here.”
Before joining World Mission in April 2017, Casal had been general missioner of Tres Rios Presbytery in Midland, Texas, since 2002. Born in pre-revolutionary Cuba, where he was ordained, Casal served as a pastor and in many other capacities in the Cuban church. In 1989, he joined the Latin American Council of Churches in Quito, Ecuador, and also worked with the World Student Christian Federation in Latin America and the Caribbean. In 1991, he served in ministry at the United Evangelical Church in Ecuador, a Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partner church at that time. In 1994, he moved to Florida to co-pastor Iglesia Presbiteriana El Cordero, a Hispanic congregation in Miami. And before joining Tres Rios, he was the organizing pastor of Iglesia Presbiteriana Canto de Esperanza in the Chicago area.
Casal’s work within the Church includes service on dozens of key committees. Casal has also received several awards of distinction. He served as founder and moderator of Hispanic Presbyterian Men and moderator of the Chicago Presbytery’s Cuba Task Force. From 2006 to 2013, he served as secretary and later as vice president of the Executive Committee of the National Council of Churches of Christ in the U.S., and at the 221st General Assembly (2014) in Detroit, he received the Ecumenical Service Recognition Award.
He has also written two books of poems and composed more than 80 hymns and other songs in Spanish and English that have been published in hymnals in Cuba, Latin America and the U.S.
Moffett said planning is underway for interim leadership in World Mission, and the search for a new director will begin soon.
by Kathy Melvin, Presbyterian News Service