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Hispanic-Latinx Fellows Program

Hispanic-Latinx Center

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Hispanic-Latinx Center

Cátedra Paulo Freire

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Cátedra Paulo Freire

Degrees and Programs

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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 is launching a new Hispanic-Latinx Fellows Program in order to better support 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 advisor, Dr. Débora Junker, Assistant Professor of Christian Education 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 Alumni/ae.

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 GetAdmitted@Garrett.edu.

*“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.

Hispanic-Latinx Faculty Members

Dr. Nancy Bedford, Georgia Harkness Professor of Applied Theology

Nancy Elizabeth BedfordDr. theol. (Tübingen, 1994), was born in Comodoro Rivadavia, Argentina. She has been 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, Assistant Professor of Christian Education

Dr. Débora Junker is the Director of the Hispanic-Latinx Center and Assistant Professor of Christian Education 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, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Academic Dean

 Prior to joining the faculty of Garrett-Evangelical in 2014, Luis 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).

Dr. 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, 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).

Meet Some of Our Students and 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.

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Maria Salazar (MDiv Student)

Maria Alejandra Salazar is a Master of Divinity student at Garrett-Evangelical, having graduated from 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.

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