After a few months of intensive searching and interviewing, the Joint Search Committee (JSC) recommended Rev. Alcris Limongi to the congregation and she began as Parkdale’s new Minister of Pastoral Care in late July, 2017.
As part of the application process, the JSC asked all the applicants to submit a statement of faith. Alcris’ statement was clear and unequivocal. She believes in the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, the authoritative and relevant role of Scripture, both personally and for the church. She understands ministry as service. She says at the end of her statement of faith that, “I am God’s child and I have the enormous privilege of being called to serve him, his church and his world.”
Alcris attended the Roman Catholic Church as a child. She had a deep sense of wanting to be like a priest—closer to God. This feeling never left her. Alcris left the Roman Catholic Church when she was told that if she wanted to serve God she should become a nun. That didn’t go over well with her.
“I was born and raised in the Roman Catholic Church in Venezuela. In my late teens I felt I was called to ministry. Since then an amazing journey began for me.
With this call in my heart I have followed God to spaces and places that I would have never imagined. As I go, each stage has shaped me, taught me skills that I’d need along the way and refined my God-given-gifts,” Alcris notes.
She went on to study engineering but still felt the call to serve the church. She attended a Pentecostal seminary in Venezuela but again was told if she wanted to serve the church she should become a pastor’s wife. Alcris then joined the Presbyterian church because they were the only denomination in Venezuela who would ordain women.
When she came to Canada in 1996 she was put in touch with Reverend Linda Butler then minister of Bloor Street United Church in Toronto. Linda had served in Buenos Aries and was fluent in Spanish. The two women have been friends ever since.
“As a retired ESL teacher, I can tell you that her spoken English is excellent and her written English remarkable for someone who came to English well into her adult years,” remarked Mary McLeod, Co-Chair of the Joint Search Committee and Chair of the Pastoral Care Team.
In 2006, Alcris received her M.Div. at Emmanuel College University of Toronto and then became a doctoral candidate in New Testament studies at the Toronto school of theology. In addition to her work at General Council Offices, Alcris has served as pulpit supply to many congregations across the country. Her references remarked that she is a fine preacher and that her sermons are creative and scripture-based.
In her work as Racial Justice, Gender Justice and Sexual Minorities Program Coordinator at General Council Offices of the United Church of Canada (UCC) from 2009 – 2013, she provided leadership and helped the UCC become an anti-racist, anti-sexist, welcoming denomination. During her time there, she had extensive experience designing programs for and facilitating small groups, in addition to designing a curriculum on Courageous Conversations about Differences.
Alcris sees Pastoral Care as one of the main pillars of ministry. Although she has not served specifically as a pastoral care minister, she has a wealth of experience to bring to the position. For example, she served as an associate pastor for the Latino community at Millbrook United Methodist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina in 2015-16. During her
interview with the JSC she gave several examples of very difficult situations where she was in fact providing excellent pastoral care including through prayer and reading of scriptures.
Alcris has a solid academic background, including PhD studies. She has an in-depth knowledge of the scriptures (more than most, according to one of her references). She has organized English reading classes for children, worked with seniors and developed an on-line theology course.
“I believe we have found in our process, a person who sees pastoral care as sacred. She is able to engage fully with the people she is speaking with. The Joint Search Committee saw this in our interview with her and I observed this personally when Alcris and I spent some time together one afternoon,” concluded Mary.
As she begins her Ministry at Parkdale, Alcris hopes to demonstrate her love for God through her ministry – “One of my strongest gifts is in teaching and preaching. I have been exposed to a great variety of theological contexts and theologies. God has given me the ability of understanding complex issues and explaining them with simplicity. I am a life-long learner. Also I have a good sense of humour, compassion, empathy; and my heart is in serving God and God’s people and God’s world community in a special way. I pray and hope that the unconditional love and grace of God and God’s open table are the markers of my ministry.”
Rev. Alcris Limongi: 613-728-8656 Ext. 224