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David Cortés Fuentes and Josefina Sáez Acevedo answer God’s call to service

Mission co-workers are headed for the Dominican Republic

by Kathy Melvin | Presbyterian News Service

David Cortés Fuentes and Josefina Sáez Acevedo will be serving in the Dominican Republic. (Photo by Tammy Warren)

LOUISVILLE — After four years of service with the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas and the Church in Cuba, Rev. Dr. David Cortés Fuentes and Josey Sáez Acevedo have answered God’s call to serve as mission co-workers in the Dominican Republic.

Cortés Fuentes will assist partners throughout the Caribbean. Sáez Acevedo is serving at the invitation of the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana.

Cortés Fuentes’ extensive experience as an administrator and professor in the United States and his service as a mission co-worker and professor at the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas have given him a deep knowledge of theological education and an openness to diverse perspectives.

In his new role as regional theological educator and curriculum consultant for the Caribbean, he will accompany Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) partners in the region hoping to strengthen their foundation in theological education. As time permits, he will also be available for to teach short courses in the areas of his expertise.

In her new role as Christian educator with the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana, Sáez Acevedo will be part of a team that develops and adapts curricula based on the priorities of the partner church.

The couple will live on the Caribbean island of Hispañola, land that Haiti and the Dominican Republic share. While the region is known for tourism, there are a many serious social issues facing the islands that Church partners are addressing through faithful Christian witness, including poverty, human trafficking and climate change.

The PC(USA) has been a part of mission and ministry in the Dominican Republic since the late 19th century. With the United Methodist Church of the U.S., the PC(USA) helped establish the Iglesia Evangélica Dominicana (IED), the first Protestant denomination in this predominately Roman Catholic country, and have remained partners since it became an independent church in 1922. Today the IED has a strong focus on Christian education, theological education and community outreach.

Cortés Fuentes and Sáez Acevedo have a long history of serving the Church. For more than two decades, Cortes taught seminary students in the United States, and for nearly a dozen years, Sáez Acevedo was a Christian educator in several congregations. But things began to change in 2014, when they began to sense a call to international mission service. By the late spring of 2015, they accepted the call to enter mission partnership with the Evangelical Theological Seminary in Matanzas and became the first PC(USA) mission co-workers serving in Cuba since the Cuban revolution in 1959.

Prior to entering mission service, Cortés Fuentes worked for four years as pastor of Iglesia Presbiteriana Hispana Emmanuel in Claremont, California. From 2000 to 2009, he was director of academic services and associate professor of New Testament at San Francisco Theological Seminary’s Southern California campus. He was also director of the Hispanic Ministries Program at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago and pastor of Ceiba Baja Presbyterian Church in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico.

Sáez Acevedo began mission service after serving for seven years as director of children’s ministries at La Verne Heights Presbyterian Church in La Verne, California. From 2003 to 2007, she was interim director of Christian education for the children and family ministry at Claremont Presbyterian Church in Claremont, California.

Cortés Fuentes earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Puerto Rico, a Master of Divinity from the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, a Master of Theology (ThM) from Union Presbyterian Seminary in Richmond, Virginia, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Northwestern University/Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Illinois.

Sáez Acevedo has an Associate of Arts degree from the University of Puerto Rico and did additional study at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut, California, and at the San Francisco Theological Seminary.

Cortés Fuentes is a member of the Presbytery of San Gabriel, part of the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii. Sáez Acevedo is a member of the Claremont Presbyterian Church. She also has deep roots with the La Verne Heights Presbyterian. Their home church is the Presbyterian Church in San Sebastian, Puerto Rico, where they both grew in faith and love and their call to be educators and learners in the wider church.

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