The Austin Seminary Board of Trustees, at a called meeting on June 27, elected the Reverend Dr. José Ramon Irizarry as the Seminary’s next president.
June 27, 2022—The Austin Seminary Board of Trustees, at a called meeting on June 27, elected the Reverend Dr. José Ramon Irizarry as the Seminary’s next president.
Reflecting on conversations with the candidate, Board Chair Keatan King recalled, “Dr. Irizarry lifted up the distinctive gifts of our seminary and gave voice to a hopeful vision of theological education for our time. For José, listening isn’t simply a best practice of leadership; it is his spiritual gift—one he has honed in his personal practice of contemplative prayer. José Irizarry will lead Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary by listening to all members of the community to hear God’s dreams, already emerging within us, so he can guide us in reaching our potential.”
Since 2016, Irizarry has served as Vice President of Education at the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). A scholar in the field of practical theology, Irizarry teaches at Villanova University and has held teaching and administrative positions at various educational and theological institutions including The University of Cambridge (Visiting Fellow), Lutheran School of Theology, the Pacific School of Religion, and McCormick Theological Seminary.
Out of his expertise as a bilingual educator, Dr. Irizarry directed Cambridge College’s regional campus in his native San Juan, Puerto Rico, (2011-2015) and served as academic dean, acting president, and held The Limardo Chair in Practical Theology at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico (2007-2011). He earned degrees from the University of Puerto Rico (BA), McCormick Theological Seminary (MDiv), and Northwestern University (PhD) as well as professional certifications from the Universitá per Stranieri di Perugia, Italy, Boston College, and Cornell University.
Supporting his work in the field of religious education and intercultural relations, Irizarry has traveled internationally to lead seminars and conferences and to conduct research. He has chaired academic accreditation teams in the US and Puerto Rico and served as president of the Religious Education Association in the United States and Canada. An ordained minister in the PC(USA), he has served the church as member of the Review Committee of the Whole (assessing the work of all agencies of the Presbyterian Church) and on the Committee on Theological Education. He was also a member of the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation (Westminster John Knox Press, Geneva Press) for eight years and is currently a Trustee at Columbia Theological Seminary. He served interim pastoral positions at Presbyterian and inter-denominational congregations in Puerto Rico and the US.
The Reverend Dr. Jill Duffield (DMin’13), who served on the Presidential Search Committee, said, “After our conversation with Dr. Irizarry, I kept returning to a question he posed to us: ‘Who needs theological education?’ His instinct and commitment to begin with people rather than program, opportunity rather than challenge, invited imagination and creativity. We began to consider new possibilities. This simple question has profound implications not only for what we do as a theological institution, but for who we are as a community of believers. I can’t wait to see how the Spirit will answer this question under Dr. Irizarry’s leadership.”
The Reverend Dr. José Irizarry is married to Mildred (Milly) Del Valle, a speech pathologist and ruling elder, and they are parents to three young adults currently engaging undergraduate and graduate studies: Yuyza (23), Darien Farel (21), and Abayomi Nicola (18). He will begin his tenure with Austin Seminary on August 22, 2022.
The Austin Seminary Board of Trustees has called Dr. Donghyun Jeong as Assistant Professor of New Testament, effective July 1; he will begin teaching in the fall. He has taught at Emory University since 2017, most recently as an adjunct professor in the Candler School of Theology. He also taught in Mercer University’s Department of Religion
May 31, 2022 | The Austin Seminary Board of Trustees has called Dr. Donghyun Jeong as Assistant Professor of New Testament, effective July 1; he will begin teaching in the fall. He has taught at Emory University since 2017, most recently as an adjunct professor in the Candler School of Theology. He also taught in Mercer University’s Department of Religion.
“Dr. Jeong’s extensive teaching record and growing list of publications impressed the committee, but he was most notable for his warm, pastoral concern for the students and their seminary experiences,” said Professor Margaret Aymer, dean-elect and chair of the search committee. “His on-campus lecture on Romans was striking for his ability to bring together the New Testament world, the history of the Presbyterian Church in Korea, and current events in the state of Texas. We are excited to have him join our faculty.”
A native of Seoul, South Korea, Dr. Jeong earned a BA with high honors from Yonsei University in 2009. He received the MDiv from Presbyterian University and Theological Seminary in 2014, the STM from Yale University Divinity School in 2016, and the PhD from Emory University in 2021. His dissertation title is “The Promise of Initiation: A Comparative Study of Ritual in the Pauline Communities and the Greco-Roman Mysteries.” He was recipient of the Laney Graduate Fellowship, the Pyungkwang Educational Scholarship, and the Yale Divinity School Scholarship.
Jeong’s monograph Pauline Baptism among the Mysteries: Ritual Messages and the Promise of Initiation will be published in 2023 by the German publisher De Gruyter. His chapter, “The Wandering People of God: A (Re)introduction to the Letter to the Hebrews Using a Sociolocative Textual Approach,” appears in Currents in Korean American and Korean Biblical Interpretation (SBL Press, forthcoming). Dr. Jeong has also contributed to the academy though peer-reviewed articles, book chapters and book reviews, and though presentations to scholarly conferences. His publications have appeared in prestigious academic journals, including the Journal of Biblical Literature and Novum Testamentum. He enjoys building bridges between faith communities and the academy and is an active participant in the American Academy of Religion / Society of Biblical Literature.
A candidate for Ministry of Word and Sacrament in the PC(USA) since 2020; for ten years he served churches in the U.S. and Korea and was a student missionary to the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2010. He is married to Hyojin Kim and they parent two elementary aged children. He says, “I am excited to join the Austin community, both in classroom and in campus life. As a scholar of color from South Korea, I appreciate the importance of interpreting the New Testament from one’s own context and multiple identities—such as race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality, physical abilities, immigration history, church tradition, and socioeconomic status. I look forward to participating in genuine conversations with students and faculty members for mutual learning and transformation.”
At its May 2022 meeting, the Austin Seminary Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Rodney Alan Caruthers II to the position of Assistant Professor of New Testament, effective July 1.
May 31, 2022 | At its May 2022 meeting, the Austin Seminary Board of Trustees appointed Dr. Rodney Alan Caruthers II to the position of Assistant Professor of New Testament, effective July 1. He is a Fellow at the Frankel Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. Prior to that he was visiting assistant professor and Bruce Gray Postdoctoral Fellow at Gustavus Adolphus College and served as an adjunct professor on the Ashland Theological Seminary faculty and Spring Arbor University.
Caruthers earned the PhD from the University of Michigan in 2019; his dissertation title is “Jewish Authors Writing in Greek: How and What They Learned During the Hellenistic and Early Roman Periods.” He holds a BA from Oakland University, the Master of Divinity from Ashland Theological Seminary, the Master of Theology from Emory University, and the Certificate in Greek and Roman History from the University of Michigan. He earned the King-Chavez-Parks Future Faculty Fellowship, the Rackham One-Term Dissertation Fellowship, the Radcliffe/Ramsdell Fellowship, and the Rackham Merit Fellowship from the University of Michigan.
In addition to his teaching experience, he has delivered papers at scholarly conferences and written book reviews and biblical entries for Encyclopedia of the Bible and its Reception (De Gruyter, forthcoming).
In the course of his graduate studies, he organized a number of scholarly conferences including the eighth Enoch Graduate Seminar (international / online), and “Echoes of the Exodus in Dr. King’s Work” and “A Celebration of MLK’s Biblical Legacy” at the University of Michigan. He also compiled the indices for Second Temple Jewish “Paideia” in Context (De Gruyter, 2017) and Paul The Jew: Rereading the Apostle as a Figure of second Temple Judaism (Fortress Press, 2016).
Dr. Caruthers’s warm and generous spirit captivated all who met him,” said Professor Margaret Aymer, dean-elect and chair of the search committee. “His lecture looking at ancient magic and its influences on Christianity was deeply impressive. As a former seminary administrator and a former regional trainer of BibleWorks software, he brings gifts of administration and technological prowess in addition to his deep understanding of the ancient world. The faculty is overjoyed that he will be joining us this fall.”
He is a member of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Enoch Seminar, the American Society of Papyrologists, and he was a member of the National Honor Society of Hebrew Language and Culture.
A member of the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Dr. Caruthers is a native Michigander who enjoys traveling, visiting museums, astronomy, and nature.
he Austin Seminary Board of Trustees has called Dr. João Chaves as Assistant Professor of Evangelism and Mission, effective July 1. He is currently Associate Director for Programming at the Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI) at Princeton Theological Seminary.
May 31, 2022 | The Austin Seminary Board of Trustees has called Dr. João Chaves as Assistant Professor of Evangelism and Mission, effective July 1. He is currently Associate Director for Programming at the Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI) at Princeton Theological Seminary.
“Dr. Chaves comes to Austin Seminary ready for the next moment in mission and evangelism because of his unique conversation with global Christianity,” said Professor Phil Helsel, chair of the search committee that called Chaves. “His breadth as a scholar—remarkable at this stage in his career—is matched by his passionate imagination and his meaningful kindness. Through exploring how key assumptions underlie our beliefs about the church, he made us feel realistically hopeful about its future.”
A native of Recife, Brazil, he earned a PhD from Baylor University in 2017; the title of his dissertation was “Disrespecting Borders for Jesus, Power, and Cash: Southern Baptist Missions, the New Immigration, and the Churches of the Brazilian Diaspora.” Chaves is an active lay member of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) and he serves in the Commission on Racial, Gender, and Economic Justice of the Baptist World Alliance.
Dr. Chaves is the author of four books including The Global Mission of the Jim Crow South: Southern Baptist Missions and the Shaping of Latin American Evangelicalism (Mercer University Press, forthcoming). His newest book, co-written with Mikeal Parsons, is tentatively titled Remembering Antônia Teixeira: Missions, Memory, and Violence Across Borders (Eerdmans, forthcoming). He contributed to numerous book reviews, peer-reviewed articles, and chapters in larger works. One of his ongoing projects includes editing Christianity, Race, and Ethnicity: Latinx Critical Conversations on Identity Construction and Religious Participation.
Chaves serves on the editorial board of Perspectives in Religious Studies, is co-director of the Baptist Scholars International Roundtable, co-editor of Perspectivas— the Journal of the Hispanic Theological Initiative, and chairs Latinx Religions at the American Academy of Religion Southwest.
Among many distinctions, he was a Baylor University BCU Scholar, University Ministerial Scholar, CBF Leadership Scholar, and received an HTI / Lilly Dissertation Fellowship. He was part of the writing team for the $7.3 million grant recently awarded to the HTI by the Lilly Endowment, titled “En conjunto! Strengthening the Recruitment, Retention, and Graduation of Latinx Masters and PhD Students.”
Dr. Chaves is married to Dr. Clare Duffy, and they are the parents of two. His interests include woodworking, playing soccer, and cooking Brazilian churrasco (what he calls “the real barbecuing”).