Ruben Rivera

Job Titles


Ruben was the Chief Diversity Officer at Bethel University, and has long been a faculty of the history department and taught one course each semester at the college and one in the summer at the graduate school. As Chief Diversity Officer, Ruben engaged in numerous strategic initiatives across all our schools, including the Shalom seminar, developing institutional capacity in cultural intelligence and intergroup dialogue, racial and other forms of bias mitigation, hiring for inclusive excellence, the Act Six Urban Leadership Scholarship Program, Cultural Connection Center, growing a thriving diverse student body, and more. Ruben's vision is for Bethel to be a place of belonging and shalom across the wide human diversity built upon biblical values and promising researched practices. This is essential to fulfill our strategic mission to "become the Christ-centered university of choice for this century," nurturing people "who can engage the world's most challenging problems to God's glory and for our neighbors' good." Ruben brings many of the trainings given at Bethel to leaders of Converge Worldwide and other churches and schools in the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities and the Twin Cities.

Started at Bethel



  • Vangard University - B.A., 1986
  • Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary - M.A.T.S., 1989
  • Boston University - Ph.D., 2007


As a Latino person of color, Ruben grew up invisible in the public school curriculum of the day, indeed invisible in the whole of the Republic. It was not until he converted to Christ through the dynamic ministry of a church led by former Los Angeles Latino gang types that he first saw himself as visible (in God's curriculum). Ruben attended a Christian liberal arts college in California and his wonderful experience there made him want to seek a career in Christian higher education. However, as he traveled across the U.S. and continued his education and work, he was saddened by what for over twenty years he called the cultural captivity of Christ to race, gender, politics, materialism, etc. Yet Ruben has also met and learned from remarkable Christians who leave it all on the field for Jesus. These are the strong-in-faith-yet-humble who do not get caught up in unremarkable Christianity that is politicized, or marked by spiritual grandiosoty or prejudice that claims to love God while maintaining what I call Samaritan loopholes (John 4:9; cf. Luke 10:25-37), thereby hating or otherwise excluding many people and groups. Ruben's experience with Christians across the country and denominations, his education in biblical studies and the history of Christianity, and years of teaching have formed the foundation from which he does his work at Bethel and churches: that Christ must ever be culturally relevant, but never culturally captive, that remarkable Christianity asks not who is his neighbor, but who am he is a neighbor to?

Courses Taught

At the college: Latin American Civ, Christianity in the U.S., Hispanic Christianity in the U.S., Minorities in America, Christianity and Western Culture

At the graduate school: Leading in a Complex and Pluralistic Society

Certificates and Licenses

Intergroup Dialogue

Cultural Intelligence

Difficult Dialogues

Racial Justice Facilitation

Intercultural Development Inventory


"Heaven is other people." R. Rivera