Rev. Perla Belo dies; was former director of Asian Ministries for ABHMS

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 12/10/20)—The Rev. Perla Dirige Belo of Seattle, Wash., went to be with the Lord on Saturday, Dec. 5. From 1990 until retiring in 2003, she served as director of Asian Ministries for American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ (ABHMS), when it was known as National Ministries.

She was married to Gasat Maza Belo. Born Aug. 19, 1938, in Manila, Philippines, she was a daughter of Gregorio and Lourdes Dirige. She immigrated to the United States in 1962.

As director of Asian Ministries, she developed and oversaw many ministries with Asian and Asian-American churches. Her responsibilities included developing pastoral and lay leadership; transforming and renewing churches; planning conferences and retreats; recruiting professional leaders; providing support and resources to churches; and offering scholarships to seminarians and higher education students.

In addition, she worked with the Asian American Baptist Caucus, run by the Office of the General Secretary, to build relationships and identify emerging leaders and churches. She served on the American Baptist Churches USA Board of General Ministries. She was assigned by the Office of the General Secretary to ABHMS’ Board of Directors as a special director.

She served a term as chair of the Evergreen Association of American Baptist Churches.

She taught music for Seattle public schools. She taught music, piano and led choir at Blaine Memorial Methodist Church in Beacon Hill, a Seattle neighborhood.

She was a member of Filipino American Christian Fellowship, which she and her husband helped found in Lynnwood, Wash., and where she had served as pastor following her retirement from ABHMS.

She majored in piano at University of Philippines; earned a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena, Calif.; a Master of Theology at Princeton (N.J.) Theological Seminary; and a teaching certificate at Seattle Pacific University.

She was ordained at University Presbyterian Church (UPC), as the first Asian woman to be ordained in the Presbyterian Church USA, where she became an associate minister. She and her husband created the International Friendship House at UPC, a ministry and residence for international students studying at the University of Washington.

Survivors: Husband; son, Nathan Belo; daughter, Ariele Belo; sisters, Ofelia Dirige, Evelyn Resella, Didi Orejudos, Julie Conte and Lois Campagna; brother Hector Dirige; and grandsons, Ezekiel Faulkner and Jaedon Belo.

Services: Thursday, Dec. 10, 2020.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.