History made as Duarte elected general superintendent
Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Orlando, Florida
"This is what being a missional church gives you." -- Eugenio Duarte, the 37th general superintendent of the Church of the Nazarene.

Eugenio Duarte (pronounced "Dwart"), regional director for Africa and a native of the island of Brava in the Cape Verde Islands, became the first citizen from outside the USA/Canada Region elected to the Church of the Nazarene's Board of General Superintendents in the 100 year history of the denomination on Tuesday, June 30. Duarte was elected the 37th general superintendent on the seventh ballot on Tuesday, June 30, 2009, at the Church's 27th General Assembly. Duarte's election also reflects the multicultural face of the denomination.

Upon the announcement of the election, a crowd of delegates immediately swarmed Duarte in celebration, lifting him off his feet. Song erupted as the auditorium stood and clapped. Duarte finally was able to make his way to the stage followed by his fellow Africans waving a Cape Verde flag and photographers. He was warmly greeted by the presiding general superintendents, many of whom were in tears for this historic day.

Taking the podium, and after thanking the delegation, a humbled Duarte declared: "This is what being a missional church gives you."

Duarte spoke of being enrolled in a small Nazarene mission school at a very young age, and later returning to teach at that same school. He talked of his journey as a minister and the steps that have been taken, following God's lead for his life - a journey that has led him to the general superintendency.

"One who is inadequate has no right to say 'no' to God," he said.

He then told the crowd, "[Since] I have been a part of the Church of the Nazarene, it has always been the case that the church teaches me how to serve. That's all I know. That's all I came to do.

"I am willing to serve."

"Thank you very much for trusting me," he continued. "Thank you very much for trusting the mission. Thank you for trusting Africa."

Duarte then took his spot on stage - as is tradition - next to his fellow members of the Board of General Superintendents.

Duarte has been serving as the regional director for the Africa Region since 2005. Prior to this assignment, he and his wife, Maria Teresa, served as regional global missionaries with the Church of the Nazarene. Duarte was field strategy coordinator of the Africa French Equatorial and West Fields. 

Duarte was born on the island of Brava, one of the Cape Verde Islands. He gave his heart to the Lord at a young age. Upon his completion of high school in the city of Mindelo, he was chosen by the Portuguese, who governed the Cape Verde Islands at that time, to be secretary to the administrator on the island of May. While there, Duarte was active in the work of the Church of the Nazarene. He also met and married Maria Teresa, who was serving as postmaster on the island at the time. When Cape Verde received its independence from Portugal, the new government asked Duarte to go to Moscow to study electrical engineering. He declined that offer to respond to the call to preach.   

After his training in the Nazarene Seminary in Cape Verde, Duarte pastored on the island of Saint Antao. He was ordained in 1981 and later took charge of the publishing work in Cape Verde. He served the district as treasurer and as a teacher in the seminary, and then as pastor of the church in the city of Mindelo. He was later elected district superintendent.

Duarte's talents were obvious, and soon he was called to direct the work in Central Africa. The Portuguese-speaking areas of Africa were growing so fast that it became clear that a field strategy coordinator was needed. Duarte was asked to take that responsibility. In August 2003, his assignment was changed when he was asked to serve West Africa and the French Equatorial fields.

On November 23, 2005, the Board of General Superintendents, in consultation with World Mission Director Louie E. Bustle, announced the election of Duarte to serve as Africa regional director. A majority response was received from a mail ballot sent to the General Board, ratifying the election at that time. Duarte began his role as regional director in March 2006.

Duarte holds a master's degree in leadership from California's Azusa Pacific University and an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Africa Nazarene University (2006). He speaks at least five languages, including English and three of the major African languages. He has a gentle spirit, is a firm leader, and has a good understanding of mission philosophy.

Upon Duarte's election as regional director in 2005, Bustle described Duarte as "a good man and a great leader."

"His quiet and effective leadership has earned the respect of people through the continent of Africa," stated Bustle. "He loves the Church of the Nazarene and testifies through word and deed that Jesus is our hope. God is doing great things in Africa; I look forward to seeing how He will use Duarte to build His Church."

Under Duarte's leadership, the work has continued to grow rapidly and expanding to new areas of the continent of Africa, making it the fastest growing region in the denomination. In fact, 22 percent of all Nazarenes are African.

Eugenio and Maria Teresa live in Johannesburg, South Africa, and have three sons, Sergio, Francisco, and Richard, and two grandsons.
--NCN News, World Mission, General Secretary's Office

Historical Notes from Nazarene Archives

Young, Coulter, and Lawlor
Three earlier Nazarene general superintendents were born in the United Kingdom. Samuel Young was born in Scotland, Edward Lawlor in England, and George Coulter in Northern Ireland. The families of all three men immigrated to North America while they were youths.  Young and Coulter became naturalized U.S. citizens, while Lawlor's family settled in Canada and his career as a Nazarene leader developed in that country. 

Eugenio Duarte of Cape Verde
The election of Eugenio Duarte to the Board of General Superintendents represents the closing of a circle that began in 1901, when John Diaz was sent as a missionary to Cape Verde. He was sent by the Association of Pentecostal Churches of America, the Nazarene parent body located in New England and the Mid-Atlantic states of the U.S. At the time, Hiram F. Reynolds was in his fourth year as general missionary secretary of the APCA.  Under his general leadership, the APCA opened the India field in 1898. Cape Verde became its second field of missionary endeavor. 

John Diaz was a native of Cape Verde who immigrated to New England, where he joined a flourishing immigrant community of Portuguese and Cape Verdeans that was concentrated especially in Rhode Island. Diaz professed his evangelical faith and joined the APCA. He was the first person of color commissioned as a missionary by any parent body of the Church of the Nazarene, and he gave leadership to the church in Cape Verde for several decades, as it grew into one of the denomination's stronger fields. Eugenio Duarte, the 37th general superintendent, is the product of a missionary church planted and nourished by one of Cape Verde's own sons. 

Note: Click here to read a letter of gratitude to the Africa Region from Duarte.

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  • i had some tears in my eyes as i read the story. i was thrilled such a person God had raised for ... MAKOEASI on 07/13/09
  • Dear brothers, I am a newborn Christian living in Portugal but born in Cape Verde Islands. Altho... TRADUGAL on 07/09/09
  • The election of Dr. Duarte is historic indeed. Amazing stuff. PHILOS2017 on 07/03/09