May 1, 2012, Tampa—Passionate and committed were the words used to describe the honorees of the Encounter with Christ dinner held at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa on Monday. Drs. Nora and Wilson Boots have left an enduring mark on the life and service of the Methodist family of churches in Latin America and the Caribbean through the Encounter with Christ permanent fund.
The couple was part of the brainstorming, organizing, and birthing of the permanent fund, which celebrates its 20thanniversary this year with a current balance of $1.5 million. A balance of $1 million is needed before disbursements of the fund’s annual interest income can be made to mission projects. Since reaching that mark in 2006, the fund has provided a total of $372,000,000 to about 50 projects in 21 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The words tenacious, faithful, and persistent also describe this couple, whom Bishop Joel Martinez said had “joined their hearts and their futures in Bolivia.” Wilson Boots first traveled to Bolivia as a United Methodist missionary. Nora Quiroga was tasked with teaching him Spanish. Although after their marriage they moved to the United States, where Wilson served as a pastor and district superintendent in the New York Annual Conference, they never lost their love and concern for the people of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Many old friends made the trip over the river from the Tampa Convention Center, where the 2012 General Conference of The United Methodist Church is being held, for a chance to thank Wilson and Nora for their tireless efforts to provide tangible and lasting financial resources to the Latin American family of Methodist churches. So many friends from the former World Division of the General Board of Global Ministries attended the dinner that Nora quipped that she should call a staff meeting.
For much of her professional life, Nora had served as director for the Latin America and Caribbean office of the World Division. She also served as a pioneer in the mission agency’s work with the community-based primary health-care model. She made it possible for indigenous women of Latin America to travel to Jamkhed, India, to meet and learn from indigenous women there in a program developed by Drs. Raj and Mabelle Arole.
Today, Encounter with Christ continues to extend community-based health care into rural communities as one of its priorities for ministry in Latin America and the Caribbean. The fund’s other mission priorities include evangelism, new church development, and meeting the needs of women, children and youth.
Established in 1992 after consultation among United Methodist leaders, members of the Council of Evangelical Methodist Churches in Latin America and the Caribbean (CIEMAL) and the Methodist Church of the Caribbean and the Americas (MCCA), distribution of the mission funds currently occurs through a shared decision-making partnership of church leaders of the Latin American and Caribbean churches and the General Board of Global Ministries.
The 2012 General Conference has voted to support Encounter with Christ in a resolution that celebrates its achievements and calls upon annual conferences, local churches, and individuals to renew and increase their commitment to the fund and the ministries that it makes possible in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the dinner, Bishop Martinez indicated that $10 million to $15 million was the envisioned goal for this permanent fund.
Bishop Martinez was joined by bishops Elias Galvan and Jane Middleton in expressing gratitude for the lives and service of Wilson and Nora Boots. Pam Carter, who replaces Wilson as the fund’s director of interpretation, presented gifts and greetings as well.