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1956. Rodolpho Belz, 10th President of Brazil College, 1953-1956. Database on-line. Center for Adventist Research Image Database. http://centerforadventistresearch.org/photos (accessed Jun 1, 2020).

Belz, Rodolpho Wagner (1898–1978)

By The Brazilian White Center – UNASP

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The Brazilian White Center – UNASP is a team of teachers and students at the Brazilian Ellen G. White Research Center – UNASP at the Brazilian Adventist University, Campus Engenheiro, Coelho, SP. The team was supervised by Drs. Adolfo Semo Suárez, Renato Stencel, and Carlos Flávio Teixeira. Bruno Sales Gomes Ferreira provided technical support. The following names are of team members: Adriane Ferrari Silva, Álan Gracioto Alexandre, Allen Jair Urcia Santa Cruz, Camila Chede Amaral Lucena, Camilla Rodrigues Seixas, Daniel Fernandes Teodoro, Danillo Alfredo Rios Junior, Danilo Fauster de Souza, Débora Arana Mayer, Elvis Eli Martins Filho, Felipe Cardoso do Nascimento, Fernanda Nascimento Oliveira, Gabriel Pilon Galvani, Giovana de Castro Vaz, Guilherme Cardoso Ricardo Martins, Gustavo Costa Vieira Novaes, Ingrid Sthéfane Santos Andrade, Isabela Pimenta Gravina, Ivo Ribeiro de Carvalho, Jhoseyr Davison Voos dos Santos, João Lucas Moraes Pereira, Kalline Meira Rocha Santos, Larissa Menegazzo Nunes, Letícia Miola Figueiredo, Luan Alves Cota Mól, Lucas Almeida dos Santos, Lucas Arteaga Aquino, Lucas Dias de Melo, Matheus Brabo Peres, Mayla Magaieski Graepp, Milena Guimarães Silva, Natália Padilha Corrêa, Rafaela Lima Gouvêa, Rogel Maio Nogueira Tavares Filho, Ryan Matheus do Ouro Medeiros, Samara Souza Santos, Sergio Henrique Micael Santos, Suelen Alves de Almeida, Talita Paim Veloso de Castro, Thais Cristina Benedetti, Thaís Caroline de Almeida Lima, Vanessa Stehling Belgd, Victor Alves Pereira, Vinicios Fernandes Alencar, Vinícius Pereira Nascimento, Vitória Regina Boita da Silva, William Edward Timm, Julio Cesar Ribeiro, Ellen Deó Bortolotte, Maria Júlia dos Santos Galvani, Giovana Souto Pereira, Victor Hugo Vaz Storch, and Dinely Luana Pereira.

 

 

First Published: January 29, 2020

Rodolpho Wagner Belz was a pastor, evangelist, teacher, and church administrator.

Early Years (1898–1922)

Rodolpho Wagner Belz was born July 27, 1898, in Gaspar Alto, which was at the time a district of Brusque, in the state of Santa Catarina, Brazil.1 He was the son of Francisco Belz, who was an Adventist teacher and Bible instructor (1867-1949), and Gertrudes Wagner Belz.2 Rodolpho was the grandson of Guilherme3 and Johanna Belz,4 who were among the first Brazilian Adventists. From the union of his parents, two sisters were born: Ignês Belz Assenheimer (1891-1982)5 and Ana Boettcher (?-1963).6

Rodolpho was a third generation Adventist, so from an early age he received an education based on Christian principles. Throughout his life he followed in the religious footsteps of his ancestors. He began his primary education in 1905 in the small Adventist school in Gaspar Alto. He completed the first years of elementary education in 1909 in the public school of São José, in Florianópolis, capital of the state of Santa Catarina. In 1911, when he was about 13 years old, he was baptized by Pastor Friedrich Robert Kümpel, in the same city. In 1916 he completed the gymnasium in the city of Rio Claro, in the state of São Paulo.7

He finished elementary school in 1917 and continued his studies at the Brazil College, Adventist Seminary, where he graduated with a degree in theology on December 17, 1922, in the first class of graduates of this institution. While in the seminary he received a scholarship. He worked as secretary of the board, translator (English and German), and stenographer. On Sundays he worked as a tailor, dyer, and assistant at the Brazilian Publishing House.8

Life and Ministry (1922–1972)

Two days after Rodolpho’s graduation in 1922, he married Alice Chagas,9 who was born around 1900.10 The marriage ceremony was conducted by Pastor A. B. Westcott,11 at the São Paulo Central Adventist Church.12 Alice contributed to the Seventh-day Adventist Church as a pianist for the first series of evangelistic meetings held by the Church in the State of São Paulo, and she assisted her husband in several other evangelistic series that resulted in the establishment of some of the oldest churches in the states of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo.13 Cláudio, Fábio, Cleyde, and Otávio were born from this union.14

Rodolpho began his ministry shortly after his graduation when he was appointed to be an evangelist for the São Paulo Conference. In 1923 he held public evangelistic campaigns in the following cities of São Paulo state: Socorro, Amparo, Ribeirão Preto, and Espírito Santo do Pinhal. He worked with pastors Jerônimo Garcia, Domingos Peixoto da Silva, and Luiz Braun, and remained engaged in these activities until 1925. He studied philosophy, history, geography, and English at Escola Superior Paulista de Filosofia and graduated from that school in 1925. The knowledge obtained enabled him to serve the Lord in a broader range of functions within the Adventist Church.15

On January 5, 1926, he was ordained to the pastoral ministry in a ceremony led by pastors Carlyle B. Haynes, F. W. Spies, and N. P. Nielsen. Following his ordination, he was elected in 1926 to be the director of the Youth, Sabbath School, and Missionary Departments of the São Paulo Conference. He worked in these positions for a year before being appointed to serve as the dean and professor of Theology at Brazil College. He served this institution until the end of 1927. In 1928 he returned to evangelistic work. He worked as an evangelist in the city of Vitória, capital of the state of Espírito Santo, along with Pastor Raul Cordeiro, and in São Paulo Conference with Pastor José Amador dos Reis.16

Also in 1928, he was sent as a missionary to Africa where he worked for a short period of time. He returned to Brazil in 1929 and began to work as a pastor of the São Paulo Central Church. In 1930 Rodolpho pastored other churches in the state of São Paulo and held a series of public evangelistic meetings with Pastor José Amador do Reis at the gymnasium of the Conselheiro Rodrigues Alves Avenue, located in the city of São Paulo. By the end of the year he returned to Brazil College to teach theology at the Seminary. In 1933 he was transferred to the Rio-Minas Gerais Mission. His ministry in this conference was concentrated in the city of Rio de Janeiro, where he was pastor of the Central, Meier, Olaria, and Nilópolis churches. Because this was a period of great physical and mental exhaustion due to intense evangelistic activities, Rodolpho became extremely stressed, almost to the point of death. Following his recovery, he continued his activities in Rio de Janeiro until 1935, when he was appointed president of the São Paulo Conference.17 At that time he helped to establish the Medical Missionary Department.18

In January 1941,19 Rodolpho was elected president of the South Brazil Union Conference and was the first Brazilian to hold this position.20 He led the union for 11 years until 1951. His next position was as secretary of the South American Division, at the time located in the city of Montevideo, Uruguay. At the same time, he was acting director of the Adventist radio programs “A Voz da Profecia” and “La Voz de la Esperanza,” which were produced for Portuguese and Spanish speaking listeners.21 He held these positions until 1952.22

In 1953 Rodolpho returned to Brazil College where he worked as the principal, dean, and professor of the Theology Seminary. He also taught English, history, and geography until 1956.23 Rodolpho’s relationship with his students was positive. As Pastor Osmundo Santos noted, he “inspired so much confidence and was so friendly with the students that they voluntarily confessed to him school violations that would justify their expulsion.”24 In 1957 he was appointed president of the Rio-Minas Gerais Conference, then headquartered in the city of Rio de Janeiro. He served in this area for a year and a half until the middle of 1958, when he was elected president of the East Brazil Union Conference, at the time located in the city of Niterói, state of Rio de Janeiro. In 1968 he also served as deputy director of the South American Division Voice of Prophecy and Television Departments.25 In the middle of 1969,26 he returned to be secretary of the South American Division,27 a position which he held until 1971.28

Rodolpho served the church actively until his retirement in 1972.29 Even when he was engaged in intense pastoral work, he left a literary legacy. He published several articles in Revista Adventista (Adventist Review).30 He wrote the following books: E Então Virá o Fim;31 A Vida e Seus Problemas;32 Focalizando Nossa Época;33 Nas Encruzilhadas da Vida: alocuções à mocidade;34 Quando Tudo Falha;35 and the devotional calendar entitled “Gratos Por Quê?”36 which was edited after his death; and the pamphlet A Última Mensagem, published by the Brazilian Publishing House.37

Rodolpho’s dynamism contributed to the fact that his performance was not restricted to the Adventist world. His contribution to society was equally recognized. Two streets were named after him: Rodolpho Belz Street in the Jardim Lar São Paulo district, located in the city of São Paulo and made official by the city hall on November 7, 1980;38 and Professor Rodolpho Belz Street, located in the Santa Cândida district in the city of Curitiba, state of Paraná.39 In addition to these honors, the city council of São Paulo awarded him a posthumous Anchieta Medal, the highest public honor granted by entities of the city; and also the Gratitude Diploma of the city, due to the services rendered to the population as a pastor and educator.40

Final Years (1972–1978)

Rodolpho believed he should remain active even in retirement. In 1972 he pastored the Brooklin Church in the city of São Paulo. Around 1973 he moved to Rio de Janeiro where he was pastor of the Vila Izabel Church until 1975. He liked to preach and be useful in the work of the Master. He returned to the city of São Paulo in 1976, where he settled in the Brooklin Paulista district. He stayed there for his final years and died January 12, 1978, at the age of 79, in São Paulo Adventist Hospital. His burial took place the next day at the Cemetery of Peace, located in the Morumbi district in São Paulo. Alice, his wife, lived for another three years. She died July 26, 1981, at the age of 81, and was buried with her husband.41

Contribution

Rodolpho Wagner Belz left a remarkable legacy of service to the Adventist Church. As an evangelist, he contributed to the advancement of Adventist preaching in various Brazilian states. As a teacher he was known for his dedicated and inspiring example. As an administrator he contributed to the development of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Brazil, “always being an inspiration to those he led and an example of zeal and dedication to the Work.”42 And finally, as a writer Rodolpho contributed by producing works of spiritual content that still have an amazing impact on the lives of their readers.

Sources

“Alice Chagas Belz.” Revista Adventistayear 76, September 1981, 21. Accessed September 12, 2016, http://acervo.revistaadventista.com.br.

Belz, Rodolpho. A Última MensagemSanto André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira.

Belz, Rodolpho, A Vida e Seus ProblemasFirst edition, Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 19--.

Belz, Rodolpho. E Então Virá o FimSecond edition, Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 1967.

Belz, Rodolpho. Focalizando Nossa Época. First edition, Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 19--.

Belz, Rodolpho. Gratos Por Quê? First edition, Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 1979.

Belz, Rodolpho. Na Encruzilhada da Vida: alocuções à mocidade. Second edition, Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 19--.

Belz, Rodolpho. “Nótulas do Este.” Revista Adventistayear 64, March 1969.

Belz, Rodolpho. Quando Tudo Falha...: onde obter socorro? 9th edition, Tatuí, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 1987.

Borges, Michelson. A Chegada do Adventismo ao BrasilFirst edition, São Paulo, SP: Casa publicadora Brasileira, 2000.

Brito, A. G. “Rodolpho Belz – o Descanso do pioneiro incansável.” Revista Adventista, year 73, n. 2, February 1978, 19-20. Accessed September 9, 2016, http://acervo.revistaadventista.com.br/.

“CEP da Rua Rodolfo Belz, Lar São Paulo – São Paulo,” Busca CEP (Online), 2017.

Filho, Felipe S. “Vida e Obra de Rodolpho Belz.” Monograph, Instituto Adventista de Ensino, 1984.

“Ignês Belz Assenheimer.” Revista Adventista, year 77, August 1982, 33. Accessed September 12, 2016, http://acervo.revistaadventista.com.br.

Köhler, Arno. “Ana Boettcher.” Revista Adventistayear 59, February 1964, 35. Accessed April 23, 2017, http://acervo.revistaadventista.com.br/.

Letter from Débora to Sônia (12/11/96). In: Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center, UNASP-EC), Shelf 2. Rack 13. Folder “Belz, Rodolfo.” Accessed May 16, 2016.

“Na Encruzilhada da Vida.” Revista Adventistayear 36, October 1941, 15. Accessed April 23, 2017, http://acervo.revistaadventista.com.br/.

N. P. Neilsen. “O Trabalho Progride.” Revista Adventista, year 36, May 1941, 11-12. Accessed April 23, 2017, http://acervo.revistaadventista.com.br/.

Prefeitura do Município de São Paulo. In: Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center, UNASP-EC, Shelf 2. Rack 13. Folder “Belz, Rodolfo.” Accessed May 16, 2016.

Ritter, G. G.. “A Obra Médico-Missionária.” Revista Adventistayear 36, July 1941, 11. Accessed April 23, 2017, http://acervo.revistaadventista.com.br/.

Ritter, Germano G. “Francisco Belz.” Revista Adventistayear 44, October 1949, 25. Accessed September 12, 2016, http://acervo.revistaadventista.com.br.

Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography. In: Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC), Shelf 2. Rack 13. Folder “Belz, Rodolfo.” Accessed May 16, 2016.

Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook. Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1938, 1941-42, 1945, 1950-53, 1959, 1970. 

Silva, Daniel Barbosa. “O Início do Movimento Adventista no Brasil e Rodolpho Belz.” Monograph, Instituto Adventista de Ensino, 1979.

W. E. Murray. “Transferências de Obreiros.” Revista Adventista, year 46, February 1952, 9. Accessed April 23, 2017, http://acervo.revistaadventista.com.br/.

Notes

  1. A. G. Brito, “Rodolpho Belz – o Descanso do pioneiro incansável,” Revista Adventista, year 73, n. 2, February 1978, 20.

  2. Germano G. Ritter, “Francisco Belz,” Revista Adventista, year 44, n. 10, October 1949, 25.

  3. A. G. Brito, “Rodolpho Belz – o Descanso do pioneiro incansável,” Revista Adventista, year 73, February 1978, 20.

  4. Michelson Borges, A Chegada do Adventismo ao Brasil (São Paulo, SP: Casa publicadora Brasileira, 2000), 60.

  5. “Ignês Belz Assenheimer,” Revista Adventista, year 77, n. 8, August 1982, 33.

  6. Germano G. Ritter, “Francisco Belz,” Revista Adventista, year 44, n. 10, October 1949, 25; and Arno Köhler, “Ana Boettcher,” Revista Adventista, year 59, n. 2, February 1964, 35.

  7. Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography. (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC), 1.

  8. Ibid.

  9. Ibid.

  10. “Alice Chagas Belz,” Revista Adventista, year 76, n. 9, September 1981, 21.

  11. Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC), 1.

  12. Felipe S. Filho, “Vida e Obra de Rodolpho Belz” (Monograph, Instituto Adventista de Ensino, 1984), 4.

  13. “Alice Chagas Belz,” Revista Adventista, year 76, n. 9, September 1981, 21.

  14. Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography. (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC), 1.

  15. Ibid.

  16. Ibid.

  17. Ibid.

  18. Ritter, G. G., “A Obra Médico-Missionária,” Revista Adventista, year 36, n. 7, July 1941, 11.

  19. Neilsen, N. P., “O Trabalho Progride,” Revista Adventista, year 36, n. 5, May 1941, 11.

  20. Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography. (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC, 1; “São Paulo Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1941), 192; and “South Brazil Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1942), 142.

  21. Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography. (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC), 1-2; and “South Brazil Union Conference,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1951), 178; and Murray, W. E., “Transferências de Obreiros,” Revista Adventista, year 46, n. 2, February 1952, 9.

  22. “South American Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1952), 157; and “South American Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1953), 161.

  23. Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography. (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC), 2.

  24. A. G. Brito, “Rodolpho Belz – o Descanso do pioneiro incansável,” Revista Adventista, year 73, n. 2, February 1978, 19.

  25. “South American Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1969), 201.

  26. Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography. (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC), 2.

  27. “South American Division,” Seventh-day Adventist Yearbook (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association, 1970), 207.

  28. Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography. (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC), 2.

  29. Ibid.

  30. Daniel Barbosa Silva. “O Início do Movimento Adventista no Brasil e Rodolpho Belz” (Monograph, Instituto Adventista de Ensino, 1979), 16-21.

  31. Rodolpho Belz, E Então Virá o Fim (Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 1967).

  32. Rodolpho Belz, A Vida e Seus Problemas (Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 19--).

  33. Rodolpho Belz, Focalizando Nossa Época (Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 19--).

  34. Rodolpho Belz, Na Encruzilhada da Vida: alocuções à mocidade (Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 19--); and “Na Encruzilhada da Vida,” Revista Adventista, year 36, n. 10, October 1941, 15.

  35. Rodolpho Belz, Quando Tudo Falha...: onde obter socorro? (Tatuí, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 1987).

  36. Rodolpho Belz, Gratos Por Quê? (Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira, 1979); and Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography. (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC), 2.

  37. Rodolpho Belz, A Última Mensagem (Santo André, SP: Casa Publicadora Brasileira).

  38. São Paulo City Hall (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC); and “CEP da Rua Rodolfo Belz, Lar São Paulo – São Paulo,” Busca CEP, 2017, accessed on April 23, 2017, http://buscacepapp.com/endereco/rua-rodolfo-belz/.

  39. Letter from Débora to Sônia (12/11/96) (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC).

  40. Daniel Barbosa Silva. “O Início do Movimento Adventista no Brasil e Rodolpho Belz” (Monograph, Instituto Adventista de Ensino, 1979), 22.

  41. Rodolpho Belz’s chronological biography. (Collection of the National Center of Adventist History/Ellen G. White Research Center: UNASP-EC), 2.

  42. A. G. Brito, “Rodolpho Belz – o Descanso do pioneiro incansável,” Revista Adventista, year 73, February 1978, 20.

     

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UNASP, The Brazilian White Center –. "Belz, Rodolpho Wagner (1898–1978)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Accessed May 24, 2024. https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BGFI.

UNASP, The Brazilian White Center –. "Belz, Rodolpho Wagner (1898–1978)." Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. January 29, 2020. Date of access May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BGFI.

UNASP, The Brazilian White Center – (2020, January 29). Belz, Rodolpho Wagner (1898–1978). Encyclopedia of Seventh-day Adventists. Retrieved May 24, 2024, https://encyclopedia.adventist.org/article?id=BGFI.