Alva, Alcides Justiniano (1911–1997)

By Juan Carlos Priora

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Juan Carlos Priora 

Alcides Justiniano Alva Portilla was a recognized Peruvian teacher, researcher, academic manager, and educational administrator in Peru, Argentina, and Chile. He was director of departments in the Inca Union Mission (Peru, Bolivia), in the Austral Union Conference (Argentina, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay) and in the South American Division.1

Early Years

Alcides was born in Contumazá, Department of Cajamarca, Peru, on January 21, 1911. He was the eldest son of a teacher named Segundo Mercedes Alva and Catalina Portilla. His siblings were Esther, Alfonso, Edmundo, Lilia, Gonzalo, Manuel, José Isaí, Ernesto, and Sara. His parents and uncles were Adventists. Alcides was baptized in Miraflores, Lima, Perú, in 1929. His mother died when he was 12 years old. He knew hard rural work.

He completed primary studies in Contumazá and Cascas, Peru, in the latter place at the school founded by his uncle, Agustín Alva y Alva. He attended the first two years of high school in Contumazá, at the school that his uncle Agustín also organized. The exams were taken in the city of Cajamarca. He prepared the subjects of the third year on his own, and the exams were taken at the National School “San Juan” in the city of Trujillo. An aunt who lived there suggested he go to Lima to look for a job. Once he was in Lima, Uncle Agustín picked him up, took him to his house, and showed him the Industrial Institute, a predecessor of the Peruvian Union University. Agustín took him in, got him to work on the farm and encouraged him to study there. That act was decisive, for it allowed Alcides to continue his studies, and awakened in him the desire to teach, his life vocation.

Further Studies, Family, and Work Activity

In 1933 Alcides graduated from River Plate Adventist Academy, Entre Ríos, Argentina. Between 1937 and 1939 he studied at Pacific Union College, California, United States, where he obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree, specializing in education and chemistry. In 1946 he graduated in pedagogy and as a secondary education biology teacher. In 1948 he completed his postgraduate studies at the Universidad Nacional Mayor de San Marcos [National University of San Marcos], Lima, Peru, the oldest in South America (founded in 1553), obtaining the title Doctor of Education.

On December 28, 1932, he married Reina María Carranza Godoy, born in Lima, Peru, on June 10, 1907. She graduated from a teaching course at River Plate Adventist Academy (1933). They had three children: Nivea Eunice Alva Carranza, Silvio Alcides Alva Carranza and Elisabeth Beatriz Alva Carranza.

He started his work as an elementary school teacher in Contumazá, Cajamarca, Peru (1931–1932). After studying at River Plate Adventist Academy, Entre Ríos, Argentina (1933), he became a teacher at the Lake Titicaca Training School, Juliaca, Puno, Peru (1934–1936). For a few months he acted as a bookkeeper (accounting) in the offices of the Inca Union Mission (1937). When he completed his studies at Pacific Union College, California, United States, he returned to Peru as a teacher at Lake Titicaca Training School and director of education and youth of Lake Titicaca Mission (1939–1941). In the capital of the country he taught at the Industrial Institute of Lima (1942–1944).2 He then served as director of Inca Union Training School, Lima, Peru (1945–1949), a predecessor of the Peruvian Union University. He was ordained to the evangelical ministry in Lima, Peru (1945). From Peru he went to Chillán, Chile, as professor (1950–1953) and as principal (1954–1956) of Colegio Adventista de Chile [Chile College]. He later served as a professor of the higher level at the River Plate Adventist Academy (1957–1960).3 In this institution he also directed the Instituto de Estudios por Correspondencia [Institute for Correspondence Studies] (IEC). He continued as director of youth and education of the Austral Union Conference (1960–1962). The General Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church of 1962 appointed him director of education of the South American Division (1962–1970). At last he organized and directed the career of education science at the University of Montemorelos, Mexico (1970–1983). In 1981 the Education Department of the General Conference gave Alcides J. Alva the highest recognition granted by the Adventist education system worldwide, the Medal of Distinction.

Alva had a very busy life, teaching, advising both institutions and university students, traveling, and giving lectures and seminars, in addition, he made time to write articles and prepare course syllabi. Some of these works related to science and religion, research, the origin and history of the Bible, and youth problems.4 As director of the education department in the South American Division (SAD), he created and edited a teacher update review entitled Renovación [Renewal] (13 x 20 centimeters, and about 65 pages), whose first number appeared in 1964. Concerned about offering Adventist university students tools to defend the Adventist Christian worldview in the midst of a materialistic, evolutionary and secularized academic world, he created in 1967 a publication entitled El Universitario Adventista [The Adventist University Student] (about 20 pages), which from the education department of the South American Division was distributed to the eight countries of the SAD. This publication was simple in its presentation but deep in its content.

Retirement and Contribution

Retired from active teaching (1983), he established his residence in Riverside, California, United States, but did not remain inactive. He collaborated with the Geoscience Research Institute (GRI), based in Loma Linda, California, as author and editor of Origens [Origins] (English) and Ciencia de los Orígenes [Science of the Origins] (Spanish), reviews edited by GRI.

Alcides J. Alva died on November 23, 1997. He left a lasting influence on the lives of his students and colleagues. He was an example of overcoming, solvency, industriousness and use of time.

Sources

Alva, Alcides J. Ciencia y religión [Science and Religion]. Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: River Plate Adventist Academy Editorial, 1958.

———. Ciencia y religión. Biología [Science and Religion. Biology]. Villa Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: River Plate Adventist Academy Editorial, 1972.

———. Ciencia y religión. Parte II: Geología [Science and Religion. Part II: Geology]. Villa Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: SEM Editorial, 1966.

———. Fuentes Bíblicas: Origen e historia de la Biblia [Bible Sourecs : Origin and History of the Bible]. Villa Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: SEM Editorial, 1965.

———. Principales problemas de los jóvenes [Main Problems of Young People]. Villa Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: River Plate Adventist Academy, 1970.

Alva, Alcides J., and Rolando A. Itín. Elementos de Investigación General: Guía para la presentación de monografías [General Research Elements: Monographs Presentation Guide]. Puiggari, Entre Ríos: SEM Editorial, 1962/1965.

Alva Ibarra, Nivea Eunice. Nivea Eunice Alva Ibarra to Juan Carlos Priora. December 23, 1994. Letter. Author’s personal archive.

La Voz del Colegio [Voice of the Academy]: review published by the students of the River Plate Adventist Academy, year 35. Villa Libertador Gral. San Martín, Entre Ríos: 1957-1960.

Notes

  1. Nivea Eunice Alva Ibarra to Juan Carlos Priora, December 23, 1994, author's personal archive. The letter contains valuable biographical data from his parents. Research made in the author’s private collection of the review El Universitario Adventista [The Adventist University Student] and the review Renovación [Renewal]. The Review and Herald, the official communication body of the Seventh-day Adventist Church for the Spanish-speaking countries in the South American Division, was consulted from 1958 to 1969. Alcides J. Alva's service registry was consulted from the office of the Argentina Union Conference of the Seventh-day Adventists, based in Florida, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  2. This institution had been closed for offering coeducation. In 1944 Alva got it reopened with two institutes, one for boys and the other for girls.

  3. See: La Voz del Colegio [Voice of the Academy]: review published by the students of the River Plate Adventist Academy, year 35, Villa Libertador Gral. San Martín, Entre Ríos, November 1957-1960.

  4. Some examples: Alcides J. Alva, Ciencia y religión [Science and Religion] (Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: River Plate Adventist Academy Editorial, 1958), 239 pp.; Alcides J. Alva and Rolando A. Itín, Elementos de Investigación General: Guía para la presentación de monografías [General Research Elements: Monographs Presentation Guide] (Puiggari, Entre Ríos: SEM Editorial, 1962/1965), 107 pp.; Alcides J. Alva, Fuentes Bíblicas [Bible Sources]: Origen e historia de la Biblia [Origin and History of the Bible] (Villa Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: SEM Editorial, 1965), 88 pp.; Alcides J. Alva, Ciencia y religión. Parte II: Geología [Science and Religion. Part II: Geology] (Villa Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: SEM Editorial, 1966), 102 pp.; Alcides J. Alva, Ciencia y religión. Biología [Science and Religion. Biology] (Villa Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: River Plate Adventist Academy Editorial, 1972), 284 pp.; Alcides J. Alva, Principales problemas de los jóvenes [Main Problems of Young People] (Villa Libertador San Martín, Entre Ríos: River Plate Adventist Academy, 1970), 72 pp.

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Priora, Juan Carlos. "Alva, Alcides Justiniano (1911–1997)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 10, 2021. Accessed January 19, 2021. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6GD1.

Priora, Juan Carlos. "Alva, Alcides Justiniano (1911–1997)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 10, 2021. Date of access January 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6GD1.

Priora, Juan Carlos (2021, January 10). Alva, Alcides Justiniano (1911–1997). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved January 19, 2021, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=6GD1.