National Lutheran News

ELCA’s Caribbean Synod bishop diagnosed with cancer

The Rev. Margarita Martinez, bishop of the Caribbean Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has been diagnosed with cancer. The discovery was made in Chicago, where Martinez had traveled in late August for medical tests. She had been advised by her physician in Puerto Rico to seek additional treatment.

“The results of my … biopsy were positive for cancer,” she said in a September 1 e-mail message to the synod and to the ELCA. “My physicians have recommended chemotherapy. I am currently exploring options for treatment in Puerto Rico.”

Martinez, whose residence is in Carolina, Puerto Rico, was being treated during September at Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Illinois. Her son accompanied her to the United States.

“I am very grateful for the many prayers and expressions of concern that have been shown to me and my family. However, I request that these be limited to cards sent to my home, rather than through phone calls or e-mails,” she wrote.
When she left Puerto Rico, Martinez appointed the Rev. Francisco L. Sosa as acting bishop of the synod through September 23. The step was taken with the consent of the Caribbean Synod Council. Sosa, who lives in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, preceded Martinez as bishop of the synod. He now serves as president of the Association of Hispanic Ministries of the ELCA.

In her message, Martinez said she is “grateful for Pastor Francisco Sosa’s willingness to serve as acting bishop … which allows me to focus on my treatment and healing.”
The ELCA Caribbean Synod has 6,558 baptized members in 34 congregations located in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The synod office is in Dorado, Puerto Rico.

ELCA staff at the churchwide office in Chicago held a special prayer service August 25 for Martinez. Another service was held at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, San Juan.
She was elected to a six-year term as bishop of the ELCA Caribbean Synod in 2001.