David Vásquez-Levy to become first Lutheran, Latino president of a U.S. seminary

Posted on January 26, 2015 by ELCA News

The Rev. David Vásquez-Levy, a pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), will become the 12th president of Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif. Vásquez-Levy was a campus pastors at Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, one of 26 ELCA colleges and universities. Vásquez-Levy is the first Lutheran and Latino to serve as president of Pacific School of Religion, and one of four people of Latino/a descent serving as president for a U.S.-accredited seminary.

"I am excited to join a community that has been at the forefront of bringing the good news of the gospel to bear on issues as diverse as gender equality, civil rights, peace and justice (and more), and that is poised to be a catalyst to continued conversations that broaden the spectrum of people of faith and conviction that want to join together in shaping the future," said Vásquez-Levy.

Vásquez-Levy earned a Master of Divinity degree at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago in 1995, and a Doctor of Ministry degree there in 2001. The seminary is one of eight of the ELCA.

Vásquez-Levy has authored several publications and a dedicated advocate for humane immigration policies. After the 2008 immigration raid in Postville, Iowa, Vásquez-Levy co-led the Postville Relief Effort team. He served as a consultant on two documentaries discussing the raid, worked closely with Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services based in Baltimore, and he participated in White House conversations and congressional briefings about the raid in Postville and immigration.

"President David Vasquez will bring strength to the strategic direction of Pacific School of Religion to inspire, train and sustain spiritually-rooted leaders for social change," says David Tiede, president emeritus of Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and former interim president of Luther College.

Vásquez-Levy’s inauguration and celebration will be held Jan. 29, 2015, at 2:00 p.m. at First Congregational Church of Berkeley. Pacific School of Religion has formal relationships with the United Church of Christ, the United Methodist Church, and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). The United Church of Christ and the United Methodist Church are full communion partners of the ELCA.

Amanda Straw is a student at DePauw University in Greencastle, Ind., majoring in English writing. She served as an intern for the ELCA churchwide organization.