Karla Koll is one of the 200+ missionaries sent out by the PCUSA. She was commissioned as a mission worker in 1988. Kingston Presbyterian Church has been supporting her mission for many years. Karla has served previously in Guatemala at the Latin American Biblical University (UBL). She has served since 2013 as a Mission co-worker and as professor of history. mission, and religions at The Latin American Biblical University (UBL) in San Jose, Costa Rica.
UBL is an ecumenical institution that offers programs in Biblical Studies and Theology. The UBL prepares church and community leaders for service to the church and as agents of transformation in their communities and countries. Its students and professors come from various Protestant traditions as well as Roman Catholic communities. UBL was founded in 1923 as a Bible institute and is now accredited as a university. The students, who come from throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, study in both residence and distance programs. UBL offers theological education that focuses on contextualized learning, helping students affirm God’s desire for fullness of life for all.
In the UBL’s classrooms Pentecostal pastors learn next to Roman Catholic nuns. People with years of leadership experience in these faith communities study together with new believers whose intellectual curiosity has led them to study theology. Students from indigenous cultures and communities of African ancestry share their perspectives. All students are encouraged to reflect theologically out of the contexts from which they come. Together with faculty members, they seek to construct theological responses to the urgent challenges facing the peoples of Latin America.
Today she is helping UBL’s students discover how they can more faithfully and effectively serve Christ’s church. “I have the joy of guiding women and men into deeper understandings of their faith in Christ as my colleagues and I provide them with tools for working in God’s mission in ways that transform lives and communities.” In addition, Karla’s work at UBL gives her the opportunity to help Presbyterians in the United States “be drawn to greater commitment to work in God’s mission for the fullness of life for all.”
As she pursues her work, Karla says she is inspired by 2 Corinthians 5:17–21, which describes our calling as Christians to be engaged in reconciliation. “As followers of Christ, we are called to be ambassadors for the new creation God is bringing about,” Karla emphasizes. “The call to work for reconciliation has been central to my ministry.”
Karla, a member of Pueblo Presbytery in southeastern Colorado, began her ministry as a theological educator in Latin America in 1986 when she accepted a PC(USA) mission appointment to Nicaragua. After eight years in Nicaragua, she returned to the United States to pursue doctoral studies in mission, ecumenics, and the history of religions at Princeton Theological Seminary. As she was completing her doctorate, she re-entered mission service in 2000 and began work in Guatemala, where she served until June of 2013. Karla holds an undergraduate degree from St. Olaf College in Minnesota and two master’s degrees from Union Theological Seminary in New York.
Karla is married to Francisco Javier Torrez Bermudez, a native of Nicaragua. They are the parents of an adult daughter, Tamara Torrez-Koll, a college student in Oregon.
Karla occasionally returns to the U.S. and is available to visit congregations. Email her to extend an invitation to visit your congregation or organization. Contact: Karla Ann Koll (firstname.lastname@example.org)