I believe that Meadville Lombard Theological School serves a unique role in Theological Education as an institution that prepares religious professionals that are academically rigorous, grounded in solid spiritual practices, passionate about justice work, and have a robust, inclusive UU-identity. Because of my vocation as a theological educator and service as a lay leader, I am committed to leading an institution that fosters intellectual rigor and promotes spiritual practices in its preparation of leaders capable of engaging a complex world demanding religious literacy, intercultural competency, administrative skills, fluency in communication styles and channels, and the ability to adapt to shifting demographics.
During Fall 2019 Ingathering, my first as president, I had an opportunity to engage with these new students in conversation around a number of my presidential priorities. Among these priorities, I discussed what I proposed as five areas of Effective Religious Leadership in the 21st Century: 

  • Fostering intentional learning communities for social change and shared leadership 
  • Robust engagement with Unitarian Universalist Theology and with the larger Unitarian Universalist Movement
  • Cultural competency skills and religious literacy
  • The growing importance of ecumenical and multi-faith education for religious leaders
  • Technological fluency for i-Ministry 

I see the capacities for the UU ministry in the 21st century would include:

  • Providing hospitality and creating space for healing and transformation
  • Facilitating the opportunity to connect with and encounter others
  • The possibility to be transformed and be of service can be sustained with a message that inspires one to hope

UU Theological Education is most effective when it lives prophetically into what our Unitarian Universalist Movement can offer to the world: to help reshape a broken world through the power of justice, equity, and compassion in our ways of being faithful to our sacred faith and with responsibility for one another.

Dr. Elías Ortega


Dr. Elías Ortega started his presidency in July 2019. He is an interdisciplinary scholar, educator, and a UU lay leader. He currently serves the larger Unitarian Universalist movement as a member of the UUA’s Commission on Institutional Change.

Read more about Dr. Ortega