The Rev. Dr. David Vásquez has been
recommended to the Pacific School of Religion,
Berkley, California, Board of
Trustees by the Presidential Search Committee and Trustee leadership to become
the next president of PSR. The Board of Trustees will act on this
recommendation at an August meeting. It is anticipated a new president will
begin work Jan. 1, 2015.
Pastor Vásquez has served as campus
pastor at Luther College in Decorah since 2001. In that position, Vásquez and
his colleagues supported a dynamic campus congregation by cultivating student
leadership, developing and enhancing worship and study opportunities, small
group ministries and interfaith engagement, and leading educational experiences
in Guatemala, Ghana, Israel, Palestine and Jordan. He was awarded a $15,000
Louisville Institute grant to develop his "People on the Move"
project aimed at encouraging pastoral leaders to extend their leadership in
ways that benefit the broader church and culture.
Following the May 2008 immigration
raid in nearby Postville Vásquez went to the scene to support local people who
were affected and to help determine how the larger community could respond.
Through the creation of the Postville Relief Effort, Vásquez led a core team to
marshal resources to meet food, housing and legal aid, all the while advocating
for the needs of those affected and for more humane immigration policies. This
work led him to serve as a consultant on various documentaries, speak before a
congressional hearing on immigration policy, coordinate refugee resettlement
with the Lutheran Refugee Committee in Canada and attend two White House
briefings, adding a faith perspective to the national conversation on
At the time of Luther's
Sesquicentenial, Vásquez served on a regent-chartered task force aimed at
positioning Luther to respond to economic challenges and major shifts and
disruptions taking place in higher education while preparing the college for
presidential transition. He is a member of the College Resource Council that
advises the administration and regents on resource management and allocation in
support of institutional goals.
His recent research focus has been
on migration as a central image in sacred texts, exploring migration stories in
the Bible and in people's lives, including authoring "Out of the Waters:
Resisting the Power of Fear," a Bible
study on the book of Exodus published by the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee
Services; "1 and 2 Samuel," from the Books of Faith Bible Study
Series by Augsburg Fortress Publishers; and co-authoring with Diane Jacobson
"Ruth," published under the same series. Current projects include a
study on accompaniment for the ELCA Global Mission Unit.
Vásquez is a regular speaker and
preacher at regional and national events, addressing themes of migration and
faith, youth and adult development, biblical fluency, and higher education as
Previously Vásquez was pastor at St.
Mark's Lutheran church in Batesville, Indiana.
Vásquez holds a bachelor's degree in
computer science from Texas Lutheran University, a master's degree in divinity
from the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, and studied at Ludwig
Maximilian University of Munich. He received a Doctorate of Ministry in
Preaching (D. Min.) through the Association of Chicago Theological Schools.
Vásquez lives in Decorah with his
wife Dr. Karla Suomala, associate professor of religion, and their two
children, Dawit and Meheret.
“We want to congratulate Pastor
David, to wish him the best on this new adventure in vocation, and to thank
Pastor David and Professor Karla Suomala for their 13 years of dedicated
service to Luther,” said Luther President Paula Carlson.
“During his time at Luther, Pastor
David has worked with the campus congregation and student leadership to develop
and enhance worship opportunities, traveled around the world with student
groups for mission work, was awarded a $15,000 grant to develop his "People
on the Move" project and has twice traveled to Washington D.C. to meet
with lawmakers concerning fair and compassionate immigration reform. His
service to the college and the greater community has made a distinctive mark
that will not soon be forgotten.”