McCormick installs first Latino dean in PCUSA as the board continues proactive financial planning
In one of the most momentous and celebratory weeks in its recent history, McCormick Theological Seminary installed the first Latino dean of a seminary of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), while its board of trustees continued taking proactive steps to preserve the seminary’s long-term financial health and core mission.
In his inaugural address, Dr. Luis Rivera-Rodriguez, who is serving a five-year term as dean, spoke of the efficacy of theological education in today’s world in terms of preparing “interculturally competent” pastors and leaders. Dr. Rivera’s previous work as Director of the Center for the Study of Latin@ Theology and Ministry and his research in the areas of immigration and diaspora communities has convinced him of the need for seminaries such as McCormick to develop programs and faculty who are able to engage the realities of ever-diversifying communities with a built-in awareness of their own cultural identities.
“One of the challenges we face is how to integrate the perspectives and pedagogies developed in the fields of cross-cultural training, diversity education and anti-racism education to theological education,” Rivera said in his address, suggesting a new era of “dealing creatively, empathically, appropriately, and fairly with cultural differences. This has been in the womb of McCormick for some time and I, as your dean, ask that together we participate in the birth of this vision.”
Toward this goal of intercultural competency, McCormick operates three collaborative racial-ethnic ministry centers under the leadership of the Institute for Cross-cultural Theological Education. In addition, this Wednesday, November 4, the seminary celebrates the official launch of the Common Ground Project, an expansion of the former AADVENT Project bringing together Asian American, African American and Latin@ pastors and lay leaders to address collectively common challenges in their ministries.
Board keeps McCormick ahead of the curve
Gathering for its annual fall meeting, the Board of Trustees was in a similarly visionary frame of mind, tending to the final phase of its four-phase plan to achieve financial equilibrium. The Board appointed a working group to explore a variety of options relative to its real estate holdings, which include its administrative building at 5460 S. University Ave. and two residence buildings at 1400 E. 57th St. and 5535-39 S. Kimbark Ave. A report and recommendation is expected at the February meeting of the Board.
The first three phases – consisting of temporary salary and benefit reductions and other cost-saving measures – combined with signs of recovery in the market, have positioned McCormick well for this next move, says Board President John Anderson.
“That McCormick made some difficult decisions and sacrifices in the early going has made all of the difference,” he said. “We still have tough choices ahead, but we are no longer operating out of an immediate crisis and that allows for a climate of creativity in which we can do our best work.”
“We’re having some very energizing, forward-looking conversations with faculty, staff and students about how to build on McCormick’s strengths as a Reformed, urban, ecumenical and cross-cultural institution of the Church,” said Seminary President Cynthia Campbell. “The McCormick community is hopeful, and that’s reflected nowhere more powerfully than through the seminary’s alumni/ae, donors and friends who continue to support us with their monetary gifts and prayers. Our future of service to God’s people looks bright.”