With nearly three decades of exemplary service to Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico (STPR), this past spring, Dr. Julio Aponte Acosta announced his retirement as executive director of Nyack’s seminary in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Under his administration, the seminary that began with just five students, expanded its programs and in time offered both graduate and undergraduate degrees.
Anyone who knows Dr. Aponte knows he is a leader who wants to finish well. So what will retirement look like for Dr. Aponte? As of August 30, he’ll be wearing a new hat—and become the director of the Doctor of Ministry program at STPR, with plans to launch in the spring of 2020.
When Vice President and Dean of Alliance Theological Seminary in New York Dr. Ron Walborn invited Dr. Aponte to consider directing the program, his response was “’I’m not saying no; but I’m not saying yes.’”
Because he doesn’t take the call on his life and ministry lightly, Dr. Aponte conferred with the top level advisory board—his family. After meeting for several hours, they gave him their candid thoughts on the proposition. His daughter’s response was, “I don’t visualize you totally retired.” His son said, “You should consider it.” His wife said, “It’s your choice. You have to make the decision.”
With a sense of his family’s blessing, the short-lived retirement required a next step. Along with the individuals he identified as his faculty for the doctoral program, Dr. Aponte traveled to New York to observe the July D.Min. classes on the ATS Rockland County campus. What he and his team experienced during his stay in New York, prompted Dr. Aponte to phone his wife to share that he would accept the new role at Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico.
What caused the pivot in those retirement plans?
“I saw the seminary as being a small child that would become an adult. I was somewhat sad having to leave without completing my dream to see a full complement of degrees offered there,” explains Dr. Aponte. Now he will have the satisfaction of having laid the foundation and developed a seminary that offers, undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees that maintain the Alliance distinctives. Since 1990 when he initially served as a volunteer to establish the seminary, his extraordinary leadership was evident, which led to him officially assuming the role of executive director.
Dr. Julio Aponte proved to be an exemplary servant leader as the school gained a solid and widely-respected reputation. However, the strength of his leadership became even more evident during perilous times as the island of Puerto Rico was assaulted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Clearly, the right person was at the helm.
Nyack/ATS President Dr. Michael Scales says of the new D.Min. director, “Because of his loyalty and his love for Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico, Dr. Aponte is the ideal leader to pave the way for this new program. He has been a faithful steward over the institution at its best times and its worst times. The doctoral program is in very capable hands. During one of Puerto Rico’s darkest hours, he declared these words: ‘¡Firmes y Perserverantes! (Firm and persevering!)’ I have no doubt with the new Doctor of Ministry program at Seminario Teológico de Puerto Rico, this will continue to be his resolve.”