Rafael Malpica Padilla to preach at LSTC’s 157th commencement February 7, 2017

On May 21, the Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla, executive director of the Global Mission program unit of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) will preach at the 157th Eucharist and Commencement Service of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC). The service will be held at 2:30 p.m. at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 5472 South Kimbark Avenue, Chicago.

“Since this year’s commencement falls during the Reformation quincentenary, we sought a preacher who knows the breadth of global Lutheranism, and Rev. Malpica Padilla was the obvious choice,” said James Nieman, president. “From his own experience as a pastor and bishop, to his ELCA leadership with global partners and theological education, Rafael will enrich our celebration with his visionary perspective and grounding in the gospel.”

As executive director of the Global Mission program unit of the ELCA, Pastor Malpica Padilla oversees the ELCA’s worldwide program that deepens relationships and cooperation with Lutheran churches in approximately 90 countries through an accompaniment model for mission. Each year, ELCA Global Mission provides nearly $40 million in grants to companions, international scholarships, and financial and programmatic support for the work of over 230 missionaries. This includes Young Adults in Global Mission, volunteers in other countries, and 40 Chicago-based staff.

Before becoming ELCA Global Mission’s executive director in 2003, Malpica Padilla served in several positions with the ELCA’s Division for Global Mission from 1993 to 2003. He was bishop of the ELCA’s Caribbean Synod from 1987-1993 and a parish pastor in Puerto Rico following his ordination in 1981.  His extensive international and ecumenical experience includes service as an election observer in Haiti and El Salvador, a member of the executive committee of Church World Service, a member of the board of directors of Lutheran World Relief, and advisor to the Council of Lutheran World Federation (LWF), and a member of the LWF negotiation team with the state of Israel for the tax case of Augusta Victoria Hospital in Jerusalem.

Malpica Padilla earned a bachelor of arts degree in philosophy from the University of Puerto Rico and a master of divinity degree from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia. He has been awarded honorary doctor of divinity degrees by Newberry College in South Carolina, by the Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration in India, and by Trinity Lutheran Seminary in Ohio. In 2013 the Synod Council of the ELCA Caribbean Synod awarded him the title Bishop Emeritus.

Pastor Malpica Padilla is married to Luz D. Malpica, who works as an occupational therapist with children with learning disabilities. They are members of Bethany Lutheran Church in Crystal Lake, Ill.


Patti DeBias
Assistant to the President

Jan Boden
Director of Communication and Marketing

The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.

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