President Erwin Announces Honorary Degree Recipients for 2023

April 4, 2023

President R. Guy Erwin is pleased to announce that honorary degrees will be awarded to Bishop Patricia Ann Curtis Davenport and Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla at the May 19 Commencement ceremony in Lancaster, PA. Both will receive the degree of Doctor of Divinity, honoris causa. Bishop Davenport will preach at the 11:00AM Worship Service and Rev. Padilla will serve as Commencement Speaker at the 2:00PM Conferral of Degrees ceremony.

Bishop Ann Curtis Davenport (LTSP '07) assumed office as bishop of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) on Aug.1, 2018. Overwhelmingly elected by the synod assembly on May 5, 2018, she is the first African American woman to be elected a bishop in the 3.8-million-member ELCA. She was recently elected vice chair of the ELCA Conference of Bishops.

Bishop Davenport is leading the Southeastern Pennsylvania Synod in making disciples through information, education and inspiration that leads to transformation. She believes this is the way the synod makes a difference in the five-county area she is called to serve.

At the time of her election, Bishop Davenport served the synod as director for evangelical mission and assistant to the bishop, with responsibilities for new and redeveloping congregations, congregational vitality and urban ministries.

Bishop Davenport is a member of the Spirit and Truth Worship Center, Yeadon, PA, where she served as founding pastor. She earned a Master of Divinity degree from the former Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, now United Lutheran Seminary. She earned a Certificate in Black Church Concentration from the seminary’s Urban Theological Institute and is a certified ELCA Level One Coach.

She has served the national church in a variety of capacities, including co-chair of the ELCA’s Guiding Coalition, member of the Congregational Vitality and African Descent Strategy teams, and secretary of the board of Lutheran Services in America. She is a lifetime member of the Philadelphia chapter of the African Descent Lutheran Association and is active with the Black Clergy of Philadelphia, Religious Leaders Council of Philadelphia, Metropolitan Christian Council, and Christians United Against Addictions. Bishop Davenport is a much sought after speaker and leader.

She is the widow of Joel Davenport, with three adult children: Joel, Shanena and Jamar; and seven grandchildren, Joel III, Dominic, Chance, Cristian, Kayden, Justice, Kaleb, and Zion, who are her heart’s delight.

The Rev. Rafael Malpica Padilla (LTSP '81) recently retired as Executive Director for the Service and Justice Home Area (formerly the Global Mission Unit) of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, (ELCA).

In this capacity, he oversees the ELCA’s worldwide program, including relationships with Lutheran churches in approximately 90 countries; the relief and development work supported by World Hunger and Lutheran Disaster Response; relationships with Lutheran Services in America, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Services, Lutheran World Relief, ELCA Social Ministry Organizations, Independent Lutheran Organizations, and the Deaconess Community; the work of the Ethnic Specific Desk and relationship with the Ethnic Associations; the AMMPARO program; the advocacy work of the church through the ELCA Washington Office, State Public Policy Offices, the Lutheran Office for World Community; and matters related to Corporate Social Responsibility.

Prior to becoming ELCA Global Mission’s Executive Director in2003, Pastor Malpica Padilla served the Global Mission Unit in several positions and previously served as bishop of the ELCA’s Caribbean Synod.

Pastor Malpica Padilla holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of Puerto Rico (1977 Cum Laude) and a Master of Divinity degree from the former Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, now United Lutheran Seminary. He has been awarded honorary Doctor of Divinity degrees by Newberry College in South Carolina, the Academy of Ecumenical Indian Theology and Church Administration in India, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, The Serampore College (University) in India, and the Comunidad Teológica de Mexico.

Posted by Linda Fiore