Nelson Rivera

Ph.D .– Temple University
S.T.M. – Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
M.Div. – Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia
B.A. – Universidad de Puerto Rico

The Rev. Dr. Nelson Rivera teaches courses in theology and ethics. He has previously taught at Moravian University and Theological Seminary, the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, and as a visiting professor at the Evangelical Seminary of Puerto Rico.

His published work covers topics in Lutheran theology, Theologies of Liberation, Latinx ministry and spirituality, and on the application of evolutionary epistemology in theology and the sciences. Dr. Rivera has served as translator, editor, and theological consultant for worship and church resources.

An ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), he has served congregations in his native Puerto Rico and the Philadelphia area. Dr. Rivera has served extensively in programs and committees across the academy and the Church, including the Faith and Leadership Academy, the ELCA Theological Roundtable, Moravian University’s Tenure, Promotion and Review Committee, and most recently as member of the 13th Round of the Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue in the USA. For years now, he has been a mentor and adviser to PhD students through the Hispanic Theological Initiative network.

Outside of the classroom, Dr. Rivera often engages in preaching, teaching, and leading worship in congregations across the ecumenical spectrum. In his spare time, he enjoys reading fiction, listening to music, and taking long walks.

Dr. Rivera is married to Sara Calderón, who works at Esperanza, Inc., a non-profit community organization in North Philadelphia; they have four daughters, a grandson, and a granddaughter.

Select Publications


The Earth Is Our Home: Mary Midgley’s Critique and Reconstruction of Evolution and Its Meanings (Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2010).

Ritos Ocasionales, editor and translator (Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2000).


“Darwin and Divinity,” The Hinge: International Theological Dialog 24/2 (Spring 2020): 3-15.

“Freedom in Reading the Scripture,” Journal of Lutheran Ethics [Online] (January 2018).

“Speaking of the Spirit,” Dialog: Journal of Theology 56/3 (September 2017): 272-278.

“Evolution,” The Lutheran Magazine 26/4 (April 2013): 18-19.