The Alumni Executive Committee of The General Theological Seminary is delighted to announce that the Rev. Jorge Juan Rivera-Torres, Class of 1962, is the recipient of the 2019 Distinguished Alumni Award. As historian at the Diocese of Puerto Rico, his work has kept Anglican/Episcopal history alive, and provided an example of a bridge between the Puerto Rican identity and the Episcopal Church’s ethos and tradition.
Jorge Juan Rivera-Torres was ordained as a Priest of the Puerto Rico Episcopal Church on December 24, 1962 by Bishop A. Ervine Swift; six months after his ordination as Deacon on June 23rd.
During his 56 years of ordination he has served as Pastor of eight churches and for 38 years as Historian and Archivist of the Episcopal Diocese of Puerto Rico. Throughout his ministry he has been active in different programs of the Church including service as Director of the Pastoral Clinic Program for 13 years.
Since 1971 Padre Jorge was a pioneer in the development and implementation of work with Hispanics communities of the Episcopal Church in USA. From 1973 to 1980 he coordinated the procedure for the inauguration of the Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico as an Extra Provincial Diocese of the Anglican Communion. In the 1980s he served as Executive Secretary of the Caribbean Episcopal Province; as a member of the Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) and of the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI). In the 90s during his ministry at Saint Luke and Saint Mary the Virgin Churches, he wrote the first volume of Historical Documents of The Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico, documenting the presence of Anglicanism in 1872 to the inauguration of the Iglesia Episcopal Puertorriqueña in 1980. Since 2000 he has authored two books: Historical Documents of The Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico, Vol. 2 and Pastoral Clinic Leadership Training.
In 2011 Rivera-Torres established the Historical Archive of the Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico with approximately 4,000 documents available for research and reference. In 2016 he directed the organization and establishment of a Museum with an exhibition of documents, collection of the Book of Prayer, vestments, works of art, and church important sacred objects. During the 110 Assembly of the Diocese of The Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico, the Museum was dedicated to The Rev Jorge Juan Rivera-Torres.
The Rev. Rivera-Torres was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico on May 4, 1936. He graduated from Ripon College in Wisconsin before attending General and receiving his Master of Divinity in 1962. He has furthered his education with studies at the University of Puerto Rico in History and at Carlos Albizu University in Psychology.
He is married to The Rev. Blanca E. Otaño (Blanqui) ordained as the first Hispanic clergywoman in the Presbyterian Church USA. He has three daughters Lisa Marie, Aurora Taina and Sofia Cristina and one son Jorge Juan. He is the grandfather of Jorge Juan III, Sergio Andrés and Valentina Sofía.
As the contemporary Episcopal Church faces the challenge of embracing and meeting the needs of the various Latino/Latina/Latinx communities that feel called into our fold, we can look to the work and writings of Padre Rivera-Torres to see how a once predominantly white and Anglo religious tradition adapted itself to a completely different culture.
Rivera-Torres will preach and be presented with the Distinguished Alumni Award at the Memorial Eucharist May 14, 2019, during the next annual Alumni Gathering. Please go to gts.edu/alumni for more information.
The Distinguished Alumni Award was created in 2004 to recognize and hold up Seminary degree holders with both extraordinarily original, path breaking ministries and extraordinarily faithful, though quiet ministries. Nominations are now being accepted for the 2020 Award. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or to make a nomination.
The past recipients of the GTS Distinguished Alumni Award are:
2018 The Rev. Deacon Geraldine A. Swanson ’08, Deacon to the Richmond Episcopal Ministry
2017 The Rev. Steven E. Hulme ’59, Rector Emeritus, St. John’s Church, Niantic, Connecticut
2016 The Rev. Paula M. Jackson ‘85, Rector, Church of Our Saviour/La Iglesia de Nuestro Salvador, Cincinnati, Ohio
2015 The Very Rev. H. Scott Kirby, ’63, Dean Emeritus, Christ Church Cathedral, Eau Claire
2014 The Rev. Margaret Ann Muncie, ’74, Executive Director, Canterbury Counseling Center, Greenville, SC
2012/2013 Br. Clark Berge, ’84, Minister General of the Society of St. Francis
2011 The Rev. Dr. Minka Shura Sprague, M.A. ‘78, Th.D ‘85, St. James Episcopal Church, Jackson, Mississippi, scholar, author, preacher, lecturer, and workshop/retreat leader
2010 The Rev. John L. Kater, ‘66 Professor Emeritus of Ministry Development, Church Divinity School of the Pacific
2009 The Very Rev. David duPlantier '93 Dean, Christ Church Cathedral, New Orleans LA, Co-founder Jericho Road Housing Project
2008 The Rev. Dr. Marion J. Hatchett '66 and '72, Professor Emeritus, University of the South, School of Theology, Sewanee, Tenn
2007 The Rev. Canon Elizabeth Geitz '93, Canon for Ministry, Diocese of New Jersey and author of several volumes, including Fireweed Evangelism; and The Rev. J. Fletcher Lowe '59 Executive Director, Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy
2006 Dr. Henry Carse '94 Director, Kids-4-Peace, St. George’s College, Jerusalem
2005 The Rev. Bertram Bennett '75, Priest-in-Charge, St. David’s, Bronx, NY and Chair, South Bronx Churches
2004 The Revs. Richard Fabian '70 and Donald Schell '71, Co-founders and co-rectors, St. Gregory of Nyssa, San Francisco