TAIPEI, Taiwan

The Mennonite World Conference (MWC) said it has appointed Cesar Garcia of Bogota, Colombia, as general secretary-elect, marking the first time the denomination has chosen a leader from the Global South.

The appointment was one of the first actions taken at the MWC Executive Committee’s annual meeting being held in Taipei, Taiwan, May 4-11, according to a news release from the MWC. “The affirmation of Cesar’s candidacy is a historical moment for us,” said MWC President Danisa Ndlovu. “It is a recognition of our positive integration as a community of faith as we see the Global South offering its richness to the Global North.”

Garcia, 39, will succeed Larry Miller as general secretary on Jan. 1, 2012. Garcia said, “I am excited about the possibility of serving in the leadership of MWC with the purpose of praying, thinking and acting as part of Christ’s global church. God is glorified when the multicultural interdependency of his church is evidenced in our way of doing theology, practicing ecclesiology and bearing Christian witness in the world.”

The Executive Committee also approved moving the location of the MWC head office to Bogota from Strasbourg, France.

Garcia, who was chair of the Iglesias Hermanos Menonitas de Colombia (Mennonite Brethren Churches of Colombia) from 2002 to 2008, is currently completing masters studies at Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary in Fresno, California, the MWC reported.

He also serves as secretary of the MWC Mission Commission and as a member of MWC’s task force on the creation of a new network of service ministries. In addition, he has been active in inter-Anabaptist and ecumenical endeavors in Colombia. Garcia is married to Sandra Baez, who is also completing studies in Fresno. They have two teenage daughters.

The MWC represents more than 1.6 million members in 99 Mennonite and Brethen in Christ national churches in 56 countries.