Dear United Community,

You may be aware that Dr. Eleazar Fernandez began a phased retirement in the fall of 2020. Recently, Dr. Fernandez informed me of his intention to fully retire, effective December 31, 2021. This fall term (2021) will be his final term teaching for United.

Dr. Fernandez has been a beloved professor, a leader in seminary education, an internationally important voice in liberation theology, and a global theologian for nearly three decades.

He received his Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University, Th.M. from Princeton Seminary, and M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary. Eleazar began his tenure at United in 1993 as Assistant Professor of Constructive Theology and was promoted to Associate Professor in 1996. He was awarded tenure in 2000 and was promoted to Professor of Constructive Theology in 2004.

At United, Dr. Fernandez has taught numerous courses in the areas of Constructive Theology, Liberation Theology, Theological Voices from the Global South, and a wide variety of courses in ethics and justice. For his final course this fall, he is teaching Constructive Theology.

Dr. Fernandez has authored and edited many books and numerous articles and book chapters. Among his many books, he has published Toward a Theology of Struggle (Orbis Books 1994), Reimagining the Human: Theological Anthropology in Response to Systemic Evil (Chalice Books 2004), and Burning Center, Porous Borders: The Church in a Globalized World (Wipf & Stock 2011). He has edited volumes also, including Teaching for a Culturally Diverse and Racially Just World (Wipf and Stock 2014) and most recently, Teaching in a World of Violent Extremism (Pickwick Publications 2021).

United Interim President Dr. Molly T. Marshall writes, "For nearly 30 years United students and faculty have benefited from the expansive ministry of Dr. Fernandez. This commitment to scholarship and the service of theological education has made a stellar contribution both at United and internationally. We celebrate with him the conclusion of his service as a treasured theology professor."

Dr. Fernandez is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ in the Philippines and is the President of Union Theological Seminary of the Philippines. Subsequent to his retirement from United, he will focus his full attention on his work in the Philippines.

When invited to reflect on his time at United, Dr. Fernandez writes, "I thought it was only yesterday when I started teaching at United Seminary. Committed to going back to the Philippines to serve the land of my birth, I thought that I would only stay for a couple of years, but the couple of years became five and the five turned into almost three decades .... As I close my years at United, I can only hope that my diaspora life—my teaching, speaking, writing, and yes, my living—has helped broaden our horizons, deepen our compassion, and widen our connections to the world around us. Thank you United for your generosity and hospitality. May your decisions and actions be not guided by your fears, but your hopes. Sail boldly and confidently in the direction of your dreams!" (Read his entire message to the United community.)

In coming months the United community will have opportunities to express our appreciation for Dr. Fernandez and to celebrate his ongoing legacy at United in the broader world.

Please join me in celebrating Dr. Eleazar Fernandez on his retirement from United Seminary.


Dr. Kyle Roberts
Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean