Edgar Palacios of El Salvador received the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award during a meeting of the General Council in Chile on July 6.
The council forms part of the BWA annual gathering that was held from July 2-7 in Santiago.
Palacios was hailed as a pastor and leader, teacher and theologian, and as a pioneer educator.
Referred to as a respected peacemaker, he received special recognition for helping to negotiate peace in El Salvador during the civil war of 1980-92 and for working for the social well-being of the marginalized in Central America and in North America.
In his quest to bring peace to El Salvador, Palacios testified before the United Nations, the Organization of American States and the United States Congress on the situation in El Salvador. He served as co-president of a peace conference on El Salvador in the Netherlands.
Among other things, Palacios was coordinator and executive director of the Permanent Committee of the National Debate for Peace in El Salvador (CPDN), was executive secretary of the National Council of Churches of El Salvador, and a representative of the Historical Protestant Churches of El Salvador.
Currently a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., Palacios served pastorates in El Salvador and Mexico and co-founded the Lutheran University of El Salvador.
In his response, Palacios paid tribute to “the heroism and courage of hundreds of leaders of the Salvadorian people that worked with the CPDN, who gave their lives and talents to achieve justice and peace.”
He made special mention of Medardo Gómez, Lutheran bishop of El Salvador, “my friend,” who supported the struggle for peace in El Salvador.
He recalled the role played by his late wife, Amparo, a Mexican by birth, but whose “heart was for El Salvador and Latin America.”
He lauded her efforts to influence the U.N. and the United States Congress to ensure that those who suffered had a voice “in these centers of power.”
“I was only a servant,” Palacios told the roughly 300 Baptist leaders and delegates that had gathered from some 40 countries around the world.
“The Lord used me. With this award, the world Baptist family reaffirms its vocation for justice, the respect for human rights, and human dignity.”