Seibel, Valdir

Country: Switzerland
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Serving At: Evangelical Methodist Church of Geneva
Home Country: Brazil

The Rev. Valdir Seibel is a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries working in congregational development. He is pastor of the International Church in Geneva, Switzerland.

A United Methodist elder, Valdir was ordained in 1994. After earning a bachelor’s degree in theology, he served as pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Brazil and the Latin American Christian community in Geneva.

Geneva has a particularly high number of migrants and individuals without a chance for legal residency. For more than 20 years, the French United Methodist Church has hosted the group in their church building and has supported the ministry, but the French congregation has decreased in numbers and increased in age. Their possibility of support is diminishing.

In his new role, Valdir will lead worship services and Bible and theme studies, welcome people in their own language (Spanish and/or Portuguese), provide administrative support and guidance, listen to and accompany people on a spiritual and pastoral level, offer training as required and liaise with the French-speaking circuit, administrative bodies and non-governmental organizations in Geneva.

“From an early age,” he said, “I felt called by God to mission. As the son of an evangelical family, I learned that God had to be the priority in our lives. Motivated by this teaching and the accompaniment of the pastor of my local community, I learned to hear this call more clearly. I joined the church’s diakonia school and then the theology faculty. Thus began my journey with God, which continues to this day.”

Born in a small village of German immigrants in the mountainous region of the state of Espírito Santo, Brazil, Valdir participated from an early age in church activities and Sunday school with his family. At age 14, he was confirmed in the faith after two years of preparation. Two years later, he began studies at a Lutheran diaconal school.

“During these studies, accompanied by the school teachers and the pastor of my local community,” Valdir said, “I felt called to study theology.”

After completing theology studies, he began his first pastoral ministry as a volunteer pastor in a small church in Nicaragua.

Supported by the World Council of Churches and the Lutheran World Federation, he worked with war refugees from the civil war in El Salvador, mainly young ex-combatants, many of whom were physically disabled and traumatized by the war.

“In the early 1990s,” Valdir said, “I returned to Brazil, and the church sent me to a parish in the Amazon region. From 1995 to 1998, I returned to Central America, this time to El Salvador, to work with the Lutheran University of El Salvador. It was a work of formation and training of local church leaders.”

Since 2008, he has served with the Swiss Methodist Church, initially as a volunteer pastor, and from 2016 as a local pastor with the Latin American Christian community in Geneva.