Puerto Rican seminary begins work on ‘Smart Room’ thanks to DREAM Grant from Presbyterian Mission Agency
July 3, 2017
Doris Garcia Rivera, president of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico, remembers how grateful she was, standing on the stage at a meeting of the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board earlier this year in Puerto Rico.
When Tony De La Rosa, the agency’s interim executive director, presented a $10,000 DREAM Grant check to the Synod of Puerto Rico for use by the seminary, Garcia Rivera was ecstatic.
“For us to receive that check,” she said, “it means possibility for us to make our dream a reality.”
When Garcia Rivera arrived as the first female president of the seminary in 2014, she wanted to expand its reach across the island and beyond. Under her guidance the seminary began dreaming about how to better serve its broad-based ecumenical community in Puerto Rico.
Seminary officials had already been talking about how to enhance their capability to provide tools for leadership development to strengthen Hispanic ministries on the west side of the island, where most Puerto Rican Presbyterians live.
“We knew they were having trouble coming to San Juan to study,” she said. “Mainly because of traffic — students drive 90 minutes each way for evening classes — but also because they are bi-vocational leaders. They are already serving in Presbyterian churches, as pastors and elders, so their time is very limited.”
With more courses and programs accessible through a “Smart Room” for Hispanic ministry leaders, the seminary will expand its reach — not only across the island, but also in Latin America and to Hispanic congregational leaders in the U.S.
“You know the millennials are here,” Garcia Rivera said. “We’re starting to think about them as leaders in our churches. They’re very technological; this tool will also help us reach out to them.”
Garcia Rivera grew up in Puerto Rico and spent 23 years as a missionary in Latin America, where she founded theological centers that broadened the reach of religious training, particularly in Costa Rica and Mexico.
Now she wants to help the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico come “more closely to the dream God has” for the institution she leads.
What is her dream?
“To deepen the call that we have,” she said. “It started almost 100 years ago with the missionaries’ dream, to provide training of the leaders of our nation — religious leadership for our nation.”
“For me to able to do this, because of your gift, I have a deep sense of gratitude but also a sense of accomplishment in my call as a missionary.”
The Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico serves the needs of ordained and lay leaders of 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 total cost of the “Smart Room” is $22,850. Funds from the Synod of Puerto Rico and seminary will help complete the initiative.
Paul Seebeck, Mission Communications Strategist, Video and Digital Asset Management, Presbyterian Mission Agency
Today’s Focus: DREAM Grant
Let us join in prayer for:
PC(USA) Mission Co-workers
PC(USA) Agencies’ Staff
Let us pray:
God, help us discern your voice as we seek to follow your call, and help us discern your presence in all the work we undertake in your service. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.