Alumni Feature: Derrick Leitao

Derrick Leitao graduated this past May with a Master of Divinity degree. Derrick came to faith in Christ in his twenties when, through the influence of a few strong Christian men who shared the gospel with him regularly, he became convicted of his sin and turned to embrace Christ as his Savior. While studying at Westminster, Derrick worked for the Westminster Bookstore and the Admissions Department. Originally from East Providence, Rhode Island, Derrick, his wife Nicole, and their two children recently moved to West Barnstable, Massachusetts where Derrick is serving as a Pastoral Intern at the Presbyterian Church of Cape Cod (OPC).

How did you decide to come to Westminster, and what did you plan to do with your degree?

I decided to come to Westminster after speaking with a colleague at my previous vocation. He gave me a website, wtsbooks.com. Then I searched for the seminary website and after reading a book by Dr. Carl Trueman, and J. Gresham Machen, and listening to a few lectures, I was convinced that this was the seminary for me to attend in order to get my MDiv for the pastorate.

What does your day-to-day ministry look like now?

I am currently preparing sermons and lessons every week. I accompany the pastor on visits and assist with funeral services. I am also pursuing licensure in my Presbytery, so time has been allotted for that as well.

What are some particular challenges in your ministry or field of work that Westminster helped prepare you for?

Westminster provided the proper tools for sermon preparation, especially when using the original languages every week, since my priority will be administering the ordinary means of grace for my congregants.

Which professors and other relationships at Westminster have had the biggest influence on you?

There are a few professors who were of great influence. Dr. Carl Trueman was a big influence as he helped to provide a wholesome view of Church History and how we stand on the shoulders of giants who have gone before us, from the Ancient Church to the present. It would be foolish to cut ourselves off from that. Dr. Lane Tipton was influential as he not only provided sound exegesis in his Systematic courses, but also took the time to speak to us and give pastoral advice. In the same way, I enjoyed learning from Dr. R. Kent Hughes in the realm of pastoral counsel. Dr. G.K. Beale and Dr. Brandon Crowe in the New Testament department sought to show us Christ in the Old Testament and brought us through the New Testament with insights that really helped in my spiritual growth and strengthened my faith in the Lord.
I have made a handful of good friends from different parts of the country and the world, who I plan to be in contact with for the rest of my ministry. It’s been a great blessing to have such friends.

How can seminaries like Westminster continue to have a positive influence in your area of ministry?

My only advice would be to stay committed to Reformed Orthodoxy and stay within those bounds and do not compromise as many have already.

What about your time at Westminster has left the biggest impact on you?

The biggest impact was spending time under careful teaching from some of the best professors given to the Church.

What five books would you recommend that students should read before they go into seminary?

I recommend reading The Last Adam by Brandon Crowe, Interpreting Scripture with the Great Tradition by Craig A. Carter, The Identity and Attributes of God by Terry L. Johnson, Christianity and Liberalism by J. Gresham Machen, and Kingdom Prologue by Meredith Kline (not in order of importance).

How can the Westminster community pray for you, your family and your ministry in the weeks and months ahead?

If you would, please pray for wisdom in using my time. There are many distractions from the word. Pray that there would be boldness from the pulpit to the hearers.