Carlos Peña, vice president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), was presented the Servus Dei award during the 2016 ELCA Churchwide Assembly. The Servus Dei (Servant of God) medal is given to honor officers of the ELCA at the completion of their terms. Peña, who has served as vice president since 2003, has decided not to seek a third term.
A citation approved by the ELCA Church Council in recognition of Peña’s service states: “During his tenure, Carlos demonstrated forthright commitment to the faith and genuine compassion for the people in congregations and communities throughout the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”
In presenting the award, ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton said, “We give thanks to God for the contributions Carlos has made to the life of this church. Although Carlos has chosen to conclude his service as vice president, we remember Ecclesiastes 3: ‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.’
“Carlos will continue his dedication to witness and service in daily life in the variety of other activities that he undertakes. In the passing of his responsibilities as vice president to his successor, may God grant him persistent hope in the gospel we proclaim and delight in remembering the privilege of serving as the fourth vice president of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.”
In his remarks to the assembly, Peña said, “If you would have told me going into Milwaukee in 2003 that I would have been elected as vice president of this great church, I would have said, ‘No way. I’m a businessman, a business owner. What do I know about God’s work? What can these hands know about God’s work?’ There wasn’t a day in Milwaukee that I didn’t ask God, ‘Why me? Why me?’ But that quickly changed to, ‘Why not me?’ And when God called, God provided, and for that I’m thankful. It’s been a great 13 years. And thank you again for all of your love and support and prayers during this time. Thanks be to God.”