BTS Mourns the Passing of Prof. Manny Ortiz
Biblical Seminary mourns with the Ortiz family and remembers with joy the life of our brother and colleague, Dr. Manny Ortiz (November 20, 1938 – February 8, 2017)
BTS mourns the passing of our beloved friend and professor, Manny Ortiz, on Wednesday, February 8th. Our hearts go out to Blanca, his wife, and the entire Ortiz family for the grief they now must bear. We rejoice that he is in the presence of the Lord he served and we give hearty thanks for the legacy he has left in his many parishioners, students, and colleagues. The following reminiscence by Prof. Michael Kelly (Old Testament) could no doubt be supplemented by many others:
In October 1989 I was minding my own business in Chapel Hill, NC. I was on my way to (I thought) a successful calling in medicine, and experiencing great joy doing research at Duke University.
But the rotary phone rang.
We spoke English for a few minutes; then I went into Spanish. When he could tell it was not my heart language (I'm fluent in Spanish, but a native English speaker), we went back to English.
It was Manuel Ortiz.
I had applied to a school near Philadelphia where Manny was a professor of missiology. He had obviously seen my application. I had intended to get some theology to enrich my medical ministry, but Manny pressed me. His big question: have you really explored Christian ministry, particularly in the city? I see you have done ministry in Mexico City and Quito, Ecuador. Have you really thought about ministry as an all-consuming calling? That one, basic question stumped me. How could such a simple question undo me?
I have had a lot of professors who surprised me with the extent of their knowledge—Manny in particular! He was a practitioner, right? Doing costly ministry in the Philadelphia “Bad Lands,” right? Well, as a third-year seminary student (having given up my medical career), I read Martin Heidegger. I thought I was the smartest guy ever. When I told Manny, he gave me a five-minute synopsis of Heidegger - those who knew Manny would be surprised that he limited his comments to five minutes. Then he gave me five minutes on contemporary hermeneutics, the notion of "understanding" and the 21st-century sea-changes of globalization and urbanization. Then he drove it all home with five more minutes on why all of this is important for the common good, not just for "Christian" ministry. Fifteen minutes that reoriented the arc of my life! Manny was missional before the term was invented.
Manny was my professor, my colleague and my friend. What a blessing.
Please join the rest of us in praising God for Manny’s remarkably fruitful life. To get a deeper insight into Pastor Manny’s work in the city, view this video produced by the Christian Reformed Church Home Mission Board:
A Few Words from Other BTS Colleagues:
What a legacy Manny had! He lectured in the classroom; he wrote the books; he preached from the pulpit; he sang in the church; he mentored young women and men; he planted churches; he encouraged the disheartened; he ministered to the poor; he guided the confused; he cared about his community; he exhibited grace to those who did not show him grace, and he formed a blessed alliance with Sue Baker. Manny had a special love for his four children and his beautiful, Blanca. In other words, he loved God with all his heart, and he loved his neighbor as himself. What a legacy Manny had!
Frank James, President of BTS
I live in Germantown because of Manny; I love the city and God’s mission in the city because of Manny; I met my wife because Manny introduced us. May his Lord and my Lord be praised.
Kyuboem Lee, DMin | Doctor of Ministry Program Director | Assistant Professor of Missiology
Manuel was my beloved pastor, mentor, and friend. He was a wonderful man of God who leaves behind a legacy--a legacy of which I am honored to be a part & which I am duty-bound to responsibly bear and live out. God's comfort, strength, and love to his family, Spirit & Truth church family and church plant families.
Duane Belgrave, Sr. Adjunct Professor, BTS
A great man and mentor in the kingdom! Manny kept me sane during the almost surreal theological discussions we used to have during WTS faculty meetings. "We hold THE Truth in trust for the rest of the church." Manny would roll his eyes bow his head, and almost imperceptibly shake it. Then you knew that your impression was right: that was arrogant and silly. Thank God for Manny!!
Steve Taylor, Associate Professor of NT, BTS
He was a great encouragement and inspiration to me. I shall miss him.
Dave Dunbar, President Emeritus and Professor of Theology, BTS