The Board of Directors of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico (ESPR) has elected the Rev. Doris J. García Rivera as the school’s president. She assumed office August 1 and was installed on Sept. 28 ― first woman to hold the position.
The seminary — which is related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) by covenant agreement — was founded in 1919. ESPR’s primary purpose is the training of pastoral and lay leaders for service in the ministry and the mission of God’s people in Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, Latin America and the United States.
“It was a blessing and an honor to share in Dr. García Rivera’s first board meeting on September 27,” said the Presbyterian Mission Agency’s Rev. Chip Hardwick, director of the Theology, Worship, and Education ministry area, who is a member of ESPR’s board. “Her gifts will usher in a new era of progress and innovation for the seminary.”
García Rivera has a wealth of educational experience in Central America and Mexico, including 23 years as a missionary in Latin America, particularly in Costa Rica and Mexico, where she founded theological centers and worked with indigenous groups, youth, women and other vulnerable populations.
She has a B.A. in biology and chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico, where she also earned a master's degree in microbiology and medical zoology. In addition, she holds a master of arts in religion and multiculturalism from the Andover Newton Theological School in Massachusetts, and completed a Ph.D. in biblical and historical studies with a concentration in Hebrew Bible and sociology at the Boston University School of Theology.
García Rivera — who enjoys teaching, working with women, biblical studies and sociological issues — has spoken at many international conferences and has taught at several educational institutions in Puerto Rico and the United States.
“The Rev. Dr. Sergio Ojeda Cárcamo's presidency deepened the relationship between the PC(USA) and the seminary, which is unparalleled in its recognition as the premier theological school in the region,” said the Rev. Lee Hinson-Hasty, coordinator for Theological Education and Seminary Relations for the Presbyterian Mission Agency and executive secretary for the Committee on Theological Education (COTE).
“The Rev Dr. García Rivera’s experience in the mission field, in science and in Biblical studies demonstrates the vision of the ESPR board and leadership possibilities of this multi-disciplined new president,” Hinson-Hasty added. “Something is brewing anew at ESPR and I believe it will serve the church well for years to come.”
García Rivera is one of two women serving as presidents of Presbyterian-related seminaries. The Rev. Katharine Rhodes Henderson was inaugurated in 2010 as president of Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City, which is also in covenant relationship with the denomination.