Rafael Malpica Padilla

Damm Chair in Leadership and Director of Latine Ministry and Theology


  • B.A. Philosophy, 1977
    Universidad de Puerto Rico, Recinto Universitario de Mayagüez
    Cum Laude
  • Master of Divinity, 1981
    Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
  • Doctor of Divinity honoris causa:
    Newberry College, South Carolina 1989
    The Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration, India 2006
    Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio 2010
    Serampore College, India 2019
    Instituto Internacional de Estudios Superiores, Mexico 2021
    United Lutheran Seminary, Gettysburg-Philadelphia 2023.


  • June 7, 1981

Professional Experience

  • 2021-2023 – Executive Director, Service and Justice ELCA
  • 2003-2021 – Executive Director, Global Mission ELCA
  • 2002-2003 – Associate Executive Director, Global Mission ELCA
  • 2001-2002 – Director for International Programs and Planning, Global Mission ELCA
  • 1993-2001 – Director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Global Mission ELCA
  • 1987-1993 – Bishop, Caribbean Synod, ELCA
  • 1981-1987 – Pastor, Reconciliation Lutheran Church, Caribbean Synod, LCA

Other Activities

  • 2021-2023: LIRS Board ember
  • 2021-2023 Lutheran Services of America (LSA) Board member
  • 2003-Present: Advisor to the Council of the Lutheran World Federation
  • 2003-2011: Lutheran World Relief Board member
  • 2000-2018: Member Board of Directors and Executive Committee Church World Service
  • 1994-2000: Chair, Forum on Latin America and the Caribbean, National Council of Churches
  • 1994: Co-chair U.S. Congressional Observer Delegation El Salvador Elections
  • 1988-2000: Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico Board
  • 1988-1995: Caribbean Conference of Churches Board


  • 1999 “Re-encounter and Reconciliation: The Task for Latin America Today,” Paul V. Martinson (ed.), Mission at the Dawn of the 21st Century: A Vision for the Church.
  • 2008 “Accompaniment as an Alternative model for Mission,” in Trinity Seminary Review, Volume 29, Number 2, Summer/Fall.
  • 2018 “Freeing Luther from Domesticated Serfdom,” in Peter Vethanayagamony and Volker Greinfenhagen (eds.), Global Lutheranism: Vitality and Challenges.
  • 2021 “Martin Luther for the Life of the Church,” in Conrad A. Braaten and Ryan P. Cumming (eds.) The Forgotten Luther III.
  • 2021 “Construyendo Puentes en Medio del Distanciamiento Social,” en Mercedes García Backmann y Hernán Dalbes (eds.) Iglesias en Pandemia, Templos en Crisis: Hacia Nuevas Eclesiologías en el Distanciamiento Social.


  • Bishop Emeritus Caribbean Synod, ELCA, 2013
  • Bishop Emeritus Iglesia Evangélica Unida, Sinodo Luterano Cuba, 2020
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