PhD Student Profile: Adriana (Dri) Rivera

Area of Study: Christian Education and Congregational Studies

Adriana (Dri) Rivera, M.Div. is an educator with a love for the stories of the city and her people. She earned a Bachelors in Secondary English Education from Indiana University Bloomington in 2016. A lifelong learner, Dri was a 7th grade English teacher in East Chicago, Indiana for five years, as well as a lay leader in children’s and youth ministry. Raised in the Puerto Rican Pentecostal church (IDDPMI), she inherited a strong passion for Scripture and service, as well as a sensitivity to the activity of the Holy Spirit. Adriana began her seminary journey at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago through the Certificate in Latinx Theology and Ministry. There she was able to take bilingual courses that were available to Latinx clergy and lay leaders who might not have had access to the traditional seminary experience. She has also hosted and attended workshops on community organizing, international missions, mental health, and integrating technology into the church experience. Her academic journey continued into the Master of Divinity program, which she earned in May 2021. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Christian Education and Congregational Studies with concentrations in Latina feminist theology and critical pedagogy. As a poet and part of the Puerto Rican diaspora, Adriana is interested in how language and stories (testimonios) can be used for decolonial and life-giving purposes in classrooms, congregations and communities.

Papers and Publications

“Virtualizing the Church: Why Aren’t People Connecting?”
In this workshop, participants were invited to design original asset maps to identify personal, spatial, physical, and technical resources that churches have used to facilitate their virtual endeavors. The session included a large group lecture and small group reflective conversations via Zoom. Participants were able to share resources and commitments that were developed throughout the series.

“Why Are There Bodies in the River? Faith-Based Community Organizing”
In this workshop, participants were introduced to the basic tenets and movements of faith-based organizing. They were then invited to describe the strengths and pain points of their communities while analyzing power structures in those same spaces. Participants then created action steps using SMART goals to address pain points.

Listen to “The Girl Became Flesh” (May 2020) on YouTube https://youtu.be/cYAS6C5i5uo
This poem reimagines Proverbs 8, Genesis 1 and John 1 with a feminist focus, celebrating women as light and life bearers in a world where women’s bodies are often commodified and consumed. This poem was included in McCormick’s “Divine Wisdom Festival” in the summer of 2020 as an example of alternative methods of proclamation.

Listen to “Races, Raíces” (October 2020) on YouTube https://youtu.be/NMjN19k_g9Q
Written for Hispanic Heritage Month, my favorite line is “I am more than a conqueror” which not only acknowledges my theological convictions but also acknowledges the decolonial identity work I do every day as I wrestle with my Puerto Rican heritage; a beautiful mix of indigenous Taino, African human trafficking survivors, and European colonizers. I am more than the colorist and racist beliefs that still infiltrate Latinx culture and even Latinx churches.