During the Gainesville clergy lunch last week (barbecue style in the Kanapaha church fellowship hall), I sat by Eddie and asked him what he has been up to. This General Assembly (GA) Commissioner will be putting a lot of activities on pause when he goes to Detroit in June. And it is clear that everything he does will be enriched by the GA experience!
Eddie, who came to us from Charleston Atlantic Presbytery, has been serving as a Parish Associate at First Presbyterian in Gainesville for about a year now. He preaches, teaches and shares the sacraments when asked by the head of staff, Bob Shettler. Eddie also serves with the deacons and works with several committees: Local and Global Missions, Christian Education, and Membership.
Eddie becomes quite animated when asked about his teaching outside the parish. Currently he is teaching a course in Systematic Theology in Spanish for Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary which has an extension campus in Orando, Florida. He also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Religious studies for two Roman Catholic Universities: St. Leo and Barry, both which have extension centers in Jacksonville. He was a seminary professor (teaching in Spanish and Portuguese) while serving as a missionary in different countries in Latin America.
When I asked Eddie why he applied to be a GA commissioner, he said that he wanted to experience how the Spirit leads the assembly in making decisions on the issues that come before it. He is looking forward to serving on one of the committees of the assembly while there. He agrees that one of the best parts of the event will be gathering with other Presbyterians from around the nation and other countries. As a former staff of the GA (Coordinator for South America) and the Charleston Atlantic Presbytery (Associate for Latin American Ministries), he will enjoy seeing some who have been colleagues of his in the past.
Eddie and his wife Marcia currently reside in Jacksonville, where their youngest daughter lives with her husband and two children. All together, Eddie and Marcia have three children and five grandchildren. The oldest daughter lives in Chicago, their son and his wife and three children live in Dallas, Texas.
“International” and ‘“mission” are two of many words we could choose to describe Eddie’s background. He was born in New York City of Puerto Rican parents who came to the United States after the Second World War. He is a third generation Latin American Protestant. As a young man, he was moved by a growing sense of call to go to Costa Rica for theological studies. He was ordained in 1973 and spent ten years in Guatemala teaching the faith and learning the character and spiritual need in the Latin culture. After returning to the United States, his diverse experiences include serving as pastor in several congregations, leading mission trips, teaching, and receiving a Master of Divinity from North American Baptist Seminary (present name Sioux Falls Seminary) and a Master of Theology from Princeton Theological Seminary. He met Marcia (a third generation Presbyterian from Brazil) while serving as a missionary there. She is a lawyer in her native country and has a MA degree from Erskine (Presbyterian) Theological Seminary with a special emphasis in counseling.
Eddie became a member of our presbytery in January 2013. He wrote at that time in his Personal Statement of Faith, “the Church is the Body of Christ proclaiming the Good News of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior … As Jesus had compassion on the poor, the helpless, the wounded and the lonely, so the Church must reach out to people everywhere and offer the sacrifice of love and service.”
Eddie is preparing to join five other commissioners and our young adult advisory delegate in Detroit in June. In our next few newsletters, we will introduce Steve Crowley (Palatka), Kathy McLean (Lake Shore) and Molly Smathers, our YAAD (Palms).
Please be in conversation with our commissioners, and keep them in your prayers!