Presbyterian Mission Agency presents $10,000 DREAM Grant to Puerto Rican seminary

Funding for ‘Smart Room’ will extend coursework throughout Latin America, U.S.

by Gregg Brekke | Presbyterian News Service

Rhashell Hunter, Tony De La Rosa, Doris Garcia Rivera and Jose Gonzalez at the presentation of a $10,000 DREAM Grant check to the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico. (Photo by Gregg Brekke)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – A $10,000 DREAM Grant check was presented to the Boriquen Synod in Puerto Rico to enhance the distance learning technologies at the Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico (SEPR). Tony De La Rosa, interim executive director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency, offered the check to SEPR President, Dr. Doris J. Garcia Rivera, during the afternoon plenary of the spring 2017 meeting of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board (PMAB).

“This $10,000 grant will benefit the seminary and should be used for the establishment of a technological classroom that will enable the seminary to provide classes electronically to students on the other side of the island where most Presbyterians are currently residing,” said De La Rosa. “We give thanks to God for the seminary and its coordination with the synod and its Presbyterian witness.”

SEPR is the only Protestant—Reformed and evangelical—theological school in Puerto Rico, serving the needs of ordained and lay leaders over the past 97 years. The seminary serves Presbyterian, Baptist, Lutheran, Disciples of Christ, Methodist, Congregational and various evangelical groups, with a current enrollment of 225 students across its degree and certificate programs.

The grant will help fund a “smart room” to enable online teaching from the seminary, reducing travel costs and time for students in Puerto Rico and extending the reach of the seminary throughout Latin America and to Hispanic congregational leaders in the U.S. At a total cost of $22,850, the grant is accompanied by funds from the synod and seminary to complete the initiative.

With a primary goal of “strengthening Puerto Rican Presbyterian lay and pastoral leadership,” the grant application says the online Spanish-language workshops and classes will, with the insights and input of Presbyterian young leaders, enable the seminary to “adjust the content to support the theological educational needs of multi-ethnic congregations with Hispanic members and support ministries with New Immigrant Hispanic populations.”

Garcia Rivera believes the initiative will advance the seminary’s capability to provide tools for leadership development to strengthen the ministries in Hispanic congregations, especially among Presbyterians in the western end of the island, who commute 2-3 hours to San Juan for classes.

“Churches and leaders have been asking for courses and programs to be more available and accessible to the people,” said Garcia Rivera. “[In addition to] this opportunity to have the smart room, we are also providing space that is more in the light of the kingdom [of God] because it provides a space where students can use their time wisely. And the seminary will be enriched to have more students, especially from the Presbyterian churches—with their character and history and special way of living the gospel.”

“There is a dire need to promote vocations and competencies for innovative ministries among Hispanics,” the grant application said. “[Also] to provide accessible content that can be integrated into the present academic graduate programs recognized by the synod for ordained ministry.”

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