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Hispanic-Latinx Fellows Program

Hispanic-Latinx Center


Hispanic-Latinx Center

Cátedra Paulo Freire


Cátedra Paulo Freire

Degrees and Programs


Degrees and Programs

Hispanic-Latinx Fellows Program

Since 1988, Garrett-Evangelical has been committed to bringing Hispanic culture and experience into the life of the seminary and provide continuing education to the church through our Center. The Hispanic-Latinx* Center strives to serve the needs of Hispanic and Latin American students, pastors, and churches. The center provides services to churches throughout the North Central Jurisdiction by recruiting students for ordained ministry and by training seminarians, pastors, and lay leaders for effective ministry in cross-cultural settings.

In line with this commitment, Garrett-Evangelical's Hispanic-Latinx Fellows Program supports Hispanic-Latinx students who are called to ministry. This fellows program recognizes the unique gifts of our Hispanic and Latinx applicants who will be ministering in bilingual settings and/or who have significant contributions to make to the global religious landscape. Priority is given to United Methodist bi-lingual and/or first and second generation Hispanic and Latinx students,

As a Hispanic-Latinx Fellow, a student in guaranteed the following:

  • A scholarship ranging from 50-100% of tuition;
  • Gatherings with the Hispanic-Latinx Fellows and faculty advisor, Dr. Débora Junker, Associate Professor of Critical Pedagogies and Director of the Hispanic-Latinx Center, for fellowship, mentoring, and conversation around various topics related to theological education and professional ministry formation;
  • Opportunities to work with and help shape the activities of the Hispanic-Latinx Center; and
  • Networking with our Hispanic-Latinx alums.

To learn more about the Fellows Program at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary, contact our Admissions Office at 1.800.SEMINARY (outside of Chicago), 847.866.3998, or

*“Latinx” is a gender-neutral alternative to “Latino/Latina.” As a reflection of our quest for representing our base, the Center has had various names in its history: Hispanic Center, Hispanic Latino Center and Hispanic Latino(a) Latin American Center. Our community continues to grow, change and to learn new ways to come to terms with itself in all its glorious complexity. We believe the name "Hispanic-Latinx Center" connects us explicitly to our heritage while also communicating our desire to be an expansive, welcoming space.

Early Action Scholarships for Hispanic-Latinx Fellows

Hispanic-Latinx Fellows Scholarship

minimum of a 75% tuition scholarship will be awarded to students eligible for of our Hispanic-Latinx Fellows Program who apply as a full-time student to a master degree program by November 15, 2021.

Criteria includes: The student must be eligible for our Hispanic-Latinx Fellows Program, applying as a full-time student for Fall 2022, and have a minimum of a 3.1 GPA.

To apply in full, students must submit their online application, resume, statement of purpose, references, and transcripts from any institutions attended for credit.

All students who apply by November 15, 2021, will receive an admission decision by December 15, 2021.

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Hispanic-Latinx Faculty Members

Dr. Nancy Bedford, Georgia Harkness Professor of  Theology

Nancy Elizabeth BedfordDr. theol. (Tübingen, 1994), was born in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. She has been the Georgia Harkness Professor of Theology at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary (Evanston) since 2003. Previously she taught theology at Instituto Universitario ISEDET and Seminario Internacional Teológico Bautista (both in Buenos Aires). She has written or edited eight books and written over 70 book chapters and journal articles, which have appeared in five languages.

Her latest book is Galatians, A Theological Commentary forthcoming summer 2016 from WJK in the Belief series. Her current project is on the Christology of the marvelous exchange from a Latin American and Latino/a perspective. Her research interests focus on global feminist theories and theologies, Latin American theologies, Latino/Latina theologies in North America, theologies in migration, liberating readings of Scripture, hermeneutics, and the rearticulation of classical doctrinal loci from the perspective of critical, artistic and poetic reason.

She is a member of Reba Place Church (Mennonite) in Evanston, where she is on the preaching rotation. She is married to Daniel Stutz, with whom she has three daughters, Valeria, Sofía and Carolina.

Dr. Débora Junker, Associate Professor of Critical Pedagogies

Dr. Débora Junker is the Director of the Hispanic-Latinx Center and Associate Professor of Critical Pedagogies at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. She received her Doctor of Philosophy degree in education and congregational studies from Garrett-Evangelical; she also holds a Master of Arts in Christian education from Christian Theological Seminary and a Master in Religious Science (practical theology) degree from the Methodist University of São Paulo - Brazil. She also received post-graduate specialization in the psychopedagogy of early childhood and adolescence from the Methodist Institute of Higher Education of São Paulo – Brazil and a licentiate in letters from the Methodist Institute of Higher Education of São Paulo – Brazil. Junker has published numerous articles, chapters, and books in the field of Christian education. She is currently working on a new book, Religious Education for Global Citizenship: Embracing Compassion and Solidarity.

Dr. Luis Rivera, Associate Professor of Theology

Dr. Luis Rivera is Associate Professor of Theology. He served as the Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Garrett-Evangelical from 2014-2019. Prior to joining the faculty of Garrett-Evangelical in 2014, Rivera served as faculty member and academic dean and vice president for academic affairs and the James G. K. McClure Professor of Theological Education (2009-13) at McCormick Theological Seminary (PCUSA) in Chicago. Rivera started his teaching career in 1986 when he joined the faculty of the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico (1986 -1995).

Rivera holds degrees from the University of Puerto Rico (B.A.), the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico (M.Div.), and Harvard University, the Divinity School (Th.M., Th.D.). His research and teaching focuses on the theological and hermeneutical challenges posed by the experiences of global migrations and the formation of diaspora communities and congregations amidst multicultural societies in a globalized world.

He is co-editor of Diccionario de Intérpretes de la Fe (2004; also in Portuguese (2005) and English (2006) and contributor to the following works, among others:  Encyclopedia of Religion and Violence (Routledge, 2004), Shaping Beloved Community (JKWP 2006), Character Ethics and the Bible (JKWP, 2007), Feasting on the Word (JKWP, 2008), The Encyclopedia of Hispanic American Religious Cultures (Baylor University, 2009), and Jesus in the Hispanic Community: Images of Christ from Theology to Popular Religion (2009).

Rivera has served Hispanic theological education and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) in several ways. He has been a teacher, workshop leader, and Board member for the Hispanic Summer Program. He served as mentor and is the current chair of the Member Council of the Hispanic Theological Initiative. He was a member of the National Advisory Committee for the Center for the Study of Latino/a Catholicism, San Diego University. Rivera was chair of the program committee of ATS Chief Academic Officers Society and a consultant for the Committee on Race and Ethnicity. He has also contributed to the work of the Forum for Theological Exploration and the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.

Rev. Dr. Osvaldo Vena, Emeritus Professor of New Testament Interpretation

Born in Azul, Argentina, on October 29, 1950, Osvaldo Vena attended the Buenos Aires Bible Institute of the Christian and Missionary Alliance from where he graduated in 1975 with a Th.B. He came to the U.S. in August of 1976 to attend Bethel Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he obtained a M.Div in 1980. During his time at Bethel, he served as a minister in an independent Hispanic congregation in Minneapolis.

In 1980 he entered Princeton Theological Seminary, from where he graduated in 1981 with a Th.M. Back in Argentina he was ordained in 1985 by the Reformed Church and was appointed to serve in two different congregations of the Presbyterian Church, first as interim minister and later as senior pastor. From 1983 to 1989 he completed his Th.D. in ISEDET (Instituto Superior de Estudios Teológicos) in Buenos Aires. Invited by the Church of Scotland, he spent nine months in New College, University of Edinburgh, doing post-doctoral research.

From Scotland he came to the U.S. where he served as an interim minister in a UCC congregation in Joliet, Illinois and as a bilingual teacher in two different school districts in the Chicago area. He was called in 1995 to Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary as an assistant professor of New Testament Interpretation and director of the then Center of Hispanic Ministries. He was promoted to associate professor in June of 2000 and granted tenure in October of 2001. In May of 2010 he was promoted to the rank of Full Professor.

Apart from many articles and essays, written both in English and Spanish, he has published numerous books including The Parousia and Its Rereadings. The Development of the Eschatological Consciousness in the Writings of the New Testament,(Peter Lang, 2001), Apocalipsis (Revelation) (Augsburg Fortress, 2008), Evangelio de Marcos: Comentario para Exegesis y Traducción (Mark: A Commentary for Exegesis and Translation) (United Bible Societies, 2008), and Jesus, Disciple of the Kingdom. Mark’s Christology for a Community in Crisis (Eugene, Oregon: Pickwick Publications, 2014).


Rev. Dr. Javier A. Viera, President and Professor of Education and Leadership

Dr. Javier A. VieraRev. Dr. Javier A. Viera is president and professor of education and leadership at Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Viera is the first person of color and first Latino to hold the office of president in the seminary’s 167-year history. Joining Garrett from Drew University, where he served as vice provost, dean of the theological school, and professor of pastoral theology, Viera led the transformation of the theological school's curriculum, launched new degree programs and initiatives, and was instrumental in efforts that have increased enrollment and fundraising. His broad scholarly interests have centered on inter-religious dialogue, adult learning and development, and the role of religion in contemporary Latin America. 

Prior to his service at Drew, Viera served in congregational ministry for two decades, leading rural, suburban, and urban congregations, most recently at Christ Church in New York City, where he served as executive minister. He is an ordained elder in the New York Conference of The United Methodist Church, and has served the denomination in leadership at the general, jurisdictional, and annual conference levels.

Viera holds a bachelor of arts from Florida Southern College, a master of divinity from Duke University’s divinity school, a master of sacred theology from Yale University’s divinity school, and a doctor of education from Columbia University. He is also completing a doctor of philosophy dissertation in Latin American studies/history of Latin America from the Universidad Interamericana de Puerto Rico.

A sought-after speaker, Viera has preached, lectured, and presented throughout the nation and around the world. He has written for various publications on ministry and education, with three articles and a book chapter soon forthcoming. Other professional activities include the Wabash Center Advisory Committee, the University Senate and Commission on Theological Education of The United Methodist Church, the Religious Education Association, and the American Academy of Religion.

Viera serves on the board of directors of several Latinx educational, cultural, and advocacy organizations, as well as chaired his local community Human Rights Commission which works for criminal justice reform and police accountability, immigrant protections and solidarity with local indigenous peoples, food justice, fair housing practices, climate justice, and raises awareness on the impact of ecological racism on Black and Brown communities. Throughout his career he has been a strong advocate for the poor, having co-founded two not-for-profit organizations that focused on economic empowerment and opportunity in communities of color. 


Meet Some of Our Hispanic/Latinx Alumni

Rev. Julia Puac-Romero (G-ETS 2017)

Soon after I was appointed at St. John's United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Hurricane Harvey devastated the coast of Texas. I am reminded that when it comes to Flood Bucket relief for local churches around the United Methodist connection it is almost like riding a bike, you never forget how! They continue to give back to many other communities with the mindset of "They were here for us, let us give back now." Our congregation’s hope is to take a team to connect with a church in Houston soon!

I am the first woman of color/Latina clergy person to be appointed to St. John’s. I am embracing this as an opportunity to strengthen the local church. I was asked to serve on a committee with four other clergy and our D.S; one of those clergy is another recent Garrett-Evangelical graduate! Together we are envisioning what Hispanic-Latinx ministries can look like for the Louisiana conference. Currently, having the connection with my field placement at Humboldt Park UMC is proving to be my greatest asset in helping spearhead this work. 

Nander Novaes (G-ETS 2018)

I grew up in a Christian home surrounded by the sacred music repertoire of George Frideric Handel, J. S. Bach, and Charles Wesley. Both my father and my mother were music ministers at our local Methodist church in Brazil – my dad was the choir conductor, and my mom was the organist. Church was our second home. I was about five years old when I first started being guided by my parents in the paths of music, especially church music.

From a young age, I was invited by my local pastors to visit our fellow parishioners in need, to actively participate in sharing the word of God, and to lead the community in worship through music. At that time, I had already an idea of my vocational calling toward music and pastoral ministries. However, it would take many years until I could finally start embracing my calling. At the age of 18, I was appointed music director at our local church, which would lead me to represent the Methodist Church of Brazil as a worship leader at the Conference of Latin American Evangelical Methodist Churches in Buenos Aires, Argentina. That was a life-changing missionary experience, which would bring me closer to my vocational calling.

Maria Salazar (G-ETS 2019)

Maria Alejandra Salazar is a Master of Divinity graduate of Garrett-Evangelical and a graduate of Northwestern University with a Bachelor of Science in Social Policy and Education with a Minor in Latina/o studies. Born in Lima, Peru, Maria Alejandra considers herself a one-and-a-half generation immigrant, meaning she was not born in the United States, but she spent her formative years in the United States. A community organizer and advocate for immigrants, she worked to pass the Illinois DREAM Act, legislation designed to make scholarships, college savings, and prepaid tuition programs available to undocumented students who graduated from Illinois high schools. Maria Alejandra also worked to expand immigrant access to Temporary Visitor Driver’s Licenses, in order to increase the number of immigrants driving with insurance, and to decrease the risk of being deported for minor infractions of driving without a license or without insurance.