Black History Month

Dr. Nathaniel Perez | Called to Serve in a Kairotic Moment

February 21, 2022

I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord,
‘plans for well-being, and not for calamity,
in order to give you a future and a hope.
(Jeremiah 29:11)

People often wrestle with plans that they hope will align with God’s plans for them. Others don’t dig their heels in and negotiate; they run.

“I knew God’s calling on my life as a child, but I spent years running away from that calling,” confesses Dr. Nathaniel Perez.

Once he realized that he could not outrun God, he found himself on a fast track. Just seven months after he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior, he was enrolled as a student at Alliance Theological Seminary (ATS).

At ATS, he earned a Master of Divinity degree in 2007. He joined the Nyack College staff in 2009 as a Higher Education Opportunity Program (HEOP) counselor—the perfect role model for young people in need of guidance and encouragement during their pursuit of undergraduate studies. Nate, as he is fondly known, not only modeled the value of higher education to his students. He became a bona fide example of lifelong learning, when in 2019 he completed the ATS Doctor of Ministry program.

“I was amazed at the diversity of both the College and the Seminary. I developed friendships with people from all over the globe and those relationships are vital to me today. As an ATS student, I loved my experience. The faculty and community at ATS were beyond what I could have expected. They were committed to seeing students not just grow in their knowledge of the Bible, but also in seeing them develop spiritually,” Nate shares.

Another facet of his call to leadership was tapped in 2020. Dr. Nathaniel Perez was appointed Director of Nyack’s Center for Racial Reconciliation (CRR). This vital part representing Nyack’s core value of being socially relevant was established in June of 2020 during a season of unprecedented national and global political unrest, exacerbated by the pandemic. The man who once ran from God’s plan for his life began to see that he was prepared at ATS for the kairotic moment that could not be denied.

Jennifer Jones Austin resized

Dr. Jennifer Jones-Austin

“The Center for Racial Reconciliation is our way to bridge the gap between diversity and community. For true community to develop, we must begin to have conversations about racial justice and reconciliation. Diversity does not necessitate community, but having diversity in our institution allows us to have a platform to have difficult conversations about the Gospel and race. The Center has allowed us to focus more directly on other aspects of the Gospel that have been ignored for far too long,” the CRR director explains. He is joined by Dr. Jennifer Jones-Austin, CEO of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA), who is the CRR Scholar-in-Residence.

Following the launch of the Center, several impactful events took place on virtual platforms with panels, notably, the “Beyond Diversity Series,” now archived on the Center’s website and the annual Nyack Scholars Symposium. Even before CRR existed, Nathaniel Perez was positioned for this work. In the spring semester of 2018, he developed the course, “Introduction to Racial Reconciliation.”  This spring, “Faith, Power and Advocacy,” is a new course being offered.

In retrospect, Dr. Perez says, “When I arrived at Nyack/ATS, I saw an institution that was vibrant. Today I see an institution that is ready to take the next step in bringing the whole Gospel to the whole world. I’d love to collaborate on developing a Social Justice and Race degree program.” CRR’s visionary leader says, “It is my dream to see us become one of the leading institutions in racial justice and reconciliation work.”

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