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Irizarry announced as Board of Pensions vice president for education

Presbyterian minister and professor to oversee transformed training activities

Press Release | Board of Pensions

BoardOfPensions2PHILADELPHIA – The Rev. Dr. José Irizarry says he was a pew child. “I learned how to crawl and walk in the pews of the church,” he said. “It was home for me.”

Becoming a minister, he said, was just one step in his development, which began in those pews in his small church in Puerto Rico. “I feel called by that community,” said Irizarry, who was recently named Vice President, Education at The Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). “That community nurtured me into leadership.”

Irizarry’s appointment is part of a transformational process underway at the Board to serve more, serve better, and serve the church. Educational opportunities are being expanded to assist congregations and other PC(USA)-affiliated employers manage their employment relationships in a changing church and to help members achieve spiritual, health, financial, and vocational well-being. Irizarry will shape and direct this expansion.

“José has the background we need to build our support for employers and members,” said Frank C. Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions. “He has spent a great deal of his career considering an increasingly complex church. He’s done this as a student, a teacher in the classroom, and as a minister in the parish.”

Irizarry has also taken ministry on stage. At his home church, he helped start a traveling troupe of performers, “a creative way in which the congregation was trying to find new ways of conveying the gospel.” Later, as a college student, he noticed a small drama school across the street. He walked over—and into a three-year stint in Puerto Rican professional theater. “When I teach, I usually use dramatic theory as a framework,” he said. “I keep that knowledge base.”

Irizarry joined the Board from Villanova University, where he was Associate Professor of Theological and Religious Education. In addition to ministerial positions, he has held classroom and administration posts in several institutions of higher learning, including the Seminario Evangelico of Puerto Rico, San Juan; Cambridge College, Cambridge, Massachusetts; Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago; and Pacific School of Religion, Berkeley, California. He has served the PC(USA) in numerous volunteer posts, most recently on the Committee on Theological Education.

After earning a bachelor’s in philosophy from the University of Puerto Rico, Irizarry went on to attain a Master of Divinity in ministry studies from McCormick Theology Seminary and a doctorate from Northwestern University in religion, society, and personality sciences. He holds several professional certificates, including in fundraising and program evaluation. Through it all, the pew child has lived on within.

“I was preaching by 15,” Irizarry said. “I was an elder at 16, a clerk of session at 18. My community nurtured that in young people… Pastors saw this as a part of their call, to nurture leaders.”

Today, Irizarry is the leader they made from the boy years ago.


About the Board of Pensions

The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is a connectional church. The Board of Pensions, one of six agencies of the General Assembly of the PC(USA), fulfills a unique role in the community by upholding the commitment made by congregations to care for installed pastors and by providing ways for churches and other Presbyterian-affiliated employers to care for other teaching elders and other employees. The board administers the church benefits plan, serving about 20,200 pensioners and survivors, 13,600 active plan members, 20,900 dependents, and 8,500 inactive members (those with vested pension credits who are not actively participating in the plan).

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