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GTU Announces 2021 Alumnus of the Year: Rev. Dr. Al Tizon

BERKELEY, CA – August 3, 2021 – The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is pleased to announce the selection of Rev. Dr. Al Tizon (PhD ‘05) as the 2021 Alumnus of the Year. Dr. Tizon is executive minister of Serve Globally, the international ministries arm of the Evangelical Covenant Church, and affiliate professor of missional and global leadership at North Park Theological Seminary. He has engaged in community development, church leadership, advocacy, and urban ministry in the United States and in the Philippines.

“Dr. Tizon’s selection as the GTU Alumnus of the year is well deserved,” said Dr. Elizabeth S. Peña, Interim Dean and VP for Academic Affairs. “He represents the fullness of what the GTU aspires to be. Dr. Tizon’s global perspective and the intersectionality of his teaching and activism reflects what the GTU hopes for all of its graduates.” 

As the first Filipino to be named GTU Alumnus of the Year, Dr. Tizon recognizes the importance of this honor both for the immigrant community that shaped him and for the Filipino leaders who will follow him. He also emphasized the vulnerable and marginalized populations honored by this recognition.

“Being recognized for the kind of work in which I’ve engaged—justice, reconciliation, peacemaking, earthkeeping, urban ministry, whole mission—speaks to the value of the poor, oppressed, marginalized, and lost in the eyes of God,” Dr. Tizon wrote after receiving the news of his selection.  “Of course, it feels good to be recognized personally. But, with this award, the GTU acknowledges, affirms, and advocates for the world’s most vulnerable.” 

Dr. Tizon’s doctoral work at the GTU was in missional theology. He is the author or editor of six books, including Transformation After Lausanne: Radical Evangelical Mission in Local and Global Perspective (Regnum, 2008) and Whole & Reconciled: Gospel, Church, and Mission in a Fractured World (Baker Academic, 2018). As an evangelical Christian, Dr. Tizon said he appreciated sharing about the diverse perspectives within his own tradition while at the GTU, while also engaging with a wide variety of other faith traditions and cultural perspectives. 

Dr. Tizon arrived at the GTU after 10 years of community development work in the Philippines. This background led him to choose a school with a plurality of religious and cultural voices, offering a robust engagement with the international and materially impoverished communities that had already shaped his own thought and practice. 

“The GTU provided the perfect environment for someone who knew that there was more to life, faith, and mission than the evangelical tradition to which he adhered (and continues to adhere), as part of a small, theologically conservative mission-sending agency...”

“The GTU provided the perfect environment for someone who knew that there was more to life, faith, and mission than the evangelical tradition to which he adhered (and continues to adhere), as part of a small, theologically conservative mission-sending agency,” he said. “The residents of the impoverished communities (both urban and rural) in which I lived and worked taught me invaluable life lessons, forcing me ask questions such as: What of orthopraxy, in addition to orthodoxy? What does it mean to practice rightly among the poor? And what does it mean to practice rightly with people of other cultures and other faiths? These questions led me to the GTU, where one is exposed to diverse faiths, cultures, and thought. I knew a ‘single-lens’ institution wouldn’t do.”

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About the Graduate Theological Union

The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is one of the world’s most comprehensive centers for religious education, and one of the largest and most diverse partnerships of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States. 

More than a consortium and academy, the GTU is a dynamic laboratory that provides scholar-innovators with a staging ground to reimagine the future of interreligious life. An education with the GTU equips leaders to translate learning into action that will have tangible impact in the world.

Since its founding in 1962, the GTU has been at the forefront of interreligious education and dialogue, and the work of our eminent alumni, students, and faculty across cultures, traditions, and technologies continues to create new pathways to a truly pluralistic future.

Discover more about our programs and the work of our alumni and community at gtu.edu.