In a General Assembly marked by firsts, the Rev. Miguel Angel Dros Lorenzo — the first moderator to conduct committee business in a language other than English — knows who and what deserve his enthusiastic “gracias.”
“The technology has taken us to new platforms,” the moderator of the Environmental Justice Committee told GA News reporter Fred Tangeman during the GA Live episode aired on Friday but taped on Wednesday owing to Dros Lorenzo’s committee duties. “We can’t control everything, but we have been able as a team to see we have a complete picture.”
“I have a great relationship with the vice moderator [Aaron Ochart of South Louisiana Presbytery], who has given his best,” Dros Lorenzo said. Global Language Resources has worked closely with the committee, “and others have been a great help, too. I received all the elements needed to be successful in the process.”
Watch Tangeman’s conversation with Dros Lorenzo here.
Dros Lorenzo is pastor of Iglesia Presbiteriana en Ensenada in Guánica, Puerto Rico. He spent 14 years as a chemist with Abbott Pharmaceutical before being laid off in 2010. He started seminary at age 39 and graduated from Seminario Evangélico de Puerto Rico in 2018.
In addition to serving as pastor, Dros Lorenzo’s denominational experience includes 2½ years as the stated clerk of the Presbiterio del Suroeste.
Tangeman noted that the moderator of the Environmental Justice Committee comes from a part of the world severely impacted by climate change.
It turns out that Dros Lorenzo had to pass his ordination exams in the fall of 2017, just as Hurricane Maria was inflicting catastrophic damage on Puerto Rico.
“I would drive around searching for [an internet] signal so I could take the ordination exams on time,” Dros Lorenzo said. “Hurricane Maria showed us … that we don’t have the infrastructure in Puerto Rico. Even though storms can be predicted, it’s unpredictable what their effect will be.”
“We have the resilience and it’s part of our lives, but we see that climate change has transformed the way we do things in Puerto Rico,” Dros Lorenzo said. “Ninety-eight percent of our electricity comes from burning oil. We don’t have alternate systems.”
Asked by Tangeman about whether environmental justice is possible in Puerto Rico, Dros Lorenzo said most Puerto Ricans don’t see it as “within possibilities.”
“Sometimes, community voices are not heard by the decision-makers,” Dros Lorenzo said. “We have to create changes on the inside to see sustained change within our lifetimes.”
He said he sees GLR and the technology that has enabled him to lead a committee providing justice as well.
“If we have interpretation available, it allows for voices who have been silenced to be heard,” Dros Lorenzo said. “I am very thankful for this approach.”
Tangeman wondered: Anything else to share?
“I was assigned to a great committee!” Dros Lorenzo said through a wide smile. “I’m thankful all the members have the tools needed to achieve the goals we have.”
“The fact that I can moderate in Spanish — it’s a dream many people in Puerto Rico have,” he said. “I ask the community of Puerto Rico and the Hispanic world to hold us in your prayers.”