As some of you may be aware, Gustavo Parajon - a frequent Greenbelt speaker, and friend and inspiration to Greenbelt attendees, trustees and staff - passed away in Nicaragua yesterday (Sunday 13 March).
A physician, pastor, and tireless campaigner for the people of Nicaragua, he was trained in Cleveland and Harvard, before returning with his wife Joan to work with the rural people of his native Nicaragua, acting as mission workers and peacemakers. He spoke frequently at Greenbelt, including at 1987's Cabaret Nicaragua, right up to Greenbelt 2010.
The funeral and memorial service is being held at First Baptist Church, Managua tomorrow (Tuesday 15 March) at 2pm and a representative of the Greenbelt Trustees will be present.
We send our thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
For those in the UK wishing to spend a moment reflecting on Gustavo's life and work, and the great amount of joy and wisdom he shared with us, we will be having a time of quiet in the lunchtime service at Greenbelt HQ at All Hallows-on-the-Wall, 83 London Wall, London EC2M 5ND, starting at 1.10 pm. All are welcome.
We will release information about a further memorial service later in the year - details to be confirmed.
Garth Hewitt, who worked closely with Gustavo, has released a statement about his friend. Here's an excerpt:-
Many of us first heard Gustavo at the Greenbelt Festival in 1987 at an event called Cabaret Nicaragua. He was such an inspiration that not many years later we were not only visiting but also asking that Amos Trust could become a partner with CEPAD. He was a regular speaker at Greenbelt over the years and he made a huge impact. Amos arranged for him to speak at Greenbelt once again last year, and we are so thrilled that we did so. To have him back with us was a reminder of the quiet wisdom and strength that we all valued so much.
Gustavo was the recipient of many awards for human rights, peacemaking and his work of relief and development. Admired by people not only in Latin America but also around the world. Such has been his model to me that if I have any image of Jesus, it is of someone who walks with a limp and speaks with a Nicaraguan accent looking strangely like Gustavo.
Gustavo spoke at Greenbelt 2010 about Nicaragua, and the work of CEPAD (Council of Protestant Churches of Nicaragua). In advance of his talks, former Greenbelt director Sue Plater wrote about why she was excited about seeing Gustavo at Greenbelt again:
I’m always excited to be in the presence of Gustavo Parajon, a gentle and unassuming man who has influenced the influencers – from well-known political and artistic figures through to Greenbelt organisers.
I’m excited to have him back at Greenbelt, to hear his quiet voice challenge me again about how life could be lived. This is someone who has opposed colonialism and oppression all his life, and whose style of making us think is to make us ask.