Rev. Angel Luis Rivera-Agosto

Rev. Angel Luis Rivera Agosto is an Ordained Minister of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Puerto Rico, with ministerial standing in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada. At NBA, he serves as the Community Engagement Senior Coordinator for Justice Initiatives where he creates and nurtures engagement strategies for the organization and its partners to transform the root causes of social injustice.

Rev. Rivera Agosto joins NBA with 30 years of experience serving in various missional, ecumenical, and pastoral settings. He pastored the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at Dajaos, Bayamón (student pastor), and the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) at Maricao Ward, Vega Alta, both congregations based in Puerto Rico. Most recently, he served as the Global Relations Minister for Latin America and the Caribbean for Global Ministries for nine years. He also worked as the Puerto Rico Council of Churches Executive Secretary and Program Coordinator of several programs at the Latin American Council of Churches (CLAI, acronym in Spanish), and the World Council of Churches.

Angel Luis graduated Magna Cum Laude from the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico and holds a Juris Doctor from the Inter-American University of Puerto Rico as well as a bachelor’s degree in social sciences from the University of Puerto Rico. He is the author of numerous articles and publications on mission, theology, socioeconomic justice, advocacy, and ecumenism.

Getting to Know Angel Luis

Why do you feel “called to care” about Disciples health and social service ministry?

Leonardo Boff, the Brazilian theologian, states in one of his reflections that we are all children of care. If our mothers had not welcomed us with infinite care, we would not have had a way to get out of the crib and go look for our food. He continues saying that care is the precondition that allows a being to come into existence. It is the anticipated guide to our actions so that they are constructive and not destructive.

Care comes into everything we do. We take care of what we love. We love what we care for. Due to the knowledge we have today about the dangers that weigh on the Earth and life, we know that if we do not take care of this planet and the life within it, we will all disappear. So, I think that the call to care is not an option. To care is to guarantee the possibilities of life on this planet, and the well-being of our relations with God, ourselves, and our neighbor. I also cherish the common meaning of the word “shalom” coming from the wisdom of Judeo-Christianism, both as “salvation” and “health.”  We save ourselves and others if we preserve health and defend it, for the sake of humanity and Creation.

Who is a hero of yours, and why?

I count “Las Abuelas de la Plaza de Mayo” (The Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo), from Argentina, as my heroes. “Las Abuelas” is an organization that helps to recover children, today adults, who were born to women who disappeared during the Argentinian military dictatorship from 1976-1983. Among those who were disappeared by the military authorities during this period, there were pregnant women who were kidnapped, held until they gave birth, and then murdered. The stolen children were given by the military to families for adoption. The grandmothers of those children, organized as “Las Abuelas” started a quest for their grandchildren, and have dedicated the last 47 years to investigating and identifying their grandchildren so they can return to their original families. They use DNA data collected from the dictatorship years, blood tests, and other ways to identify their grandchildren. Almost two hundred grandchildren have been recovered over decades. These grandchildren and their extended families continue the search for other stolen grandchildren since most of the grandmothers are now quite elderly or have passed away.

Additionally, Las Abuelas have continued to expand their search through legal means. They successfully have pushed for the declassification of international documents from foreign governments such as the United States Department of State. They then review the documents for clues to the whereabouts of disappeared grandchildren.

I can’t think of a better example of care, stubbornness, and thirst for justice, specifically when somebody can develop the capacity to turn pain and sorrow into a just cause.

If I tried to find you in a supermarket, what aisle would you be in?

In the dairy area, or near the candy section.