Rev. Dr Jose Belo Chipenda

WCC Seventh Assembly, Canberra 1991: Dr Chipenda speaks at a media conference given by the media consultants to the Aboriginal and Islander Commission (AIC).


He was born on 9 October 1929 in Bailundo, Huambo, Angola. He was married to Eva Joao Miguel De Carvalho and a father to Selma Terese and late Gilberto Jesse. He was ordained in 1956 by the Evangelical Church in Angola. He dedicated his life to the service of the body of Christ, promoting Christian unity through various ecumenical instruments. 

Among his many roles was serving as programme secretary for the WCC Programme to Combat Racism from 1973–1980. In that role, he was quoted by the press as saying: People who are committed to justice struggle for justice.”

WCC general secretary Rev. Prof. Dr Jerry Pillay joined the United Church of Canada, Evangelical Church in Angola, the All Africa Conference of Churches, and many others across the globe in celebrating Chipendas life.

Dr Chipenda was respected and celebrated for his tireless work within the ecumenical movement,” said Pillay. He leaves a lasting legacy that has given generations to come opportunities to positively and prayerfully impact their nation and their world.

We echo the words of AACC general secretary, Rev. Dr Fidon Mwombeki,” added Pillay. Dr Chipenda was indeed an accomplished African ecumenist whose legacies are indelible within the ecumenical movement globally and Africa in particular.” 

Pillay extended his sincere condolences to Chipendas friends and family, as well as all the church communities with which he worked.

Chipenda served as the fifth general secretary of the All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) from 1988-1997 alongside the late Archbishop Desmund Tutu as president of the conference. During his tenure, Chipendas visionary leadership inspired AACC members to significantly increase their contributions. It was during his time as general secretary and Archbishop Tutu as president that AACC launched a fundraising campaign One Member, One Dollar Initiative” that facilitated the completion of the construction of the AACC headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya in 1992.  

He also served as general secretary for the Angola Council of Churches from 1985–1987. Prior to that, he was pastor of the Evangelical Congregational Church, Lobito, Angola; travelling secretary of the National Student Christian Federation, United States, 1964–1965; and foreign student secretary of the World Student Christian Federation, Geneva, 1966–1969. He also served as secretary for Africa for the World Student Christian Federation, Nairobi, Kenya, 1969–1973; and director for the Center for Study of Theology and Culture in Lobito, 1980–1985.

Baldwin Sjollema, who worked with the WCC Programme to Combat Racism, extended his deepest sympathy to Chipendas family. 

Taking leave of a friend and former colleague like José is not easy,” said Sjollema. José had the patience to listen to his opposites, even if they were impatient, or more serious, when they were sometimes rude and impolite, clearly racist.”

Sjollema recalled that Chipenda organized two important world consultations, one entitled Racism in Theology-Theology against Racism,” and the other a consultation on racism in childrens books and church literature.

I will not forget José as a friend and colleague on whom I depended so much,” said Sjollema. His life on earth has ended. His contribution, as a man of deep faith, to a more human world is what we celebrate today.”

An online memorial service for the global community will be held on 22 January, 3pm (CET). A church service will be held in Sherbrooke, Canada, on 27 January.

Memorial Service for The Rev. Dr. José Belo Chipenda (please register)