Sound of the Genuine

Dorlimar Lebrón: The People’s Church

June 03, 2021 FTE Leaders Season 1 Episode 1
Sound of the Genuine
Dorlimar Lebrón: The People’s Church
Show Notes Transcript

Dorlimar Lebrón was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York. She currently serves as Lead Pastor at the First Spanish United Methodist Church, also known as, “The People’s Church” in Spanish Harlem. Dorlimar holds a Bachelor in Sociology concentrating on Black and Latinx Studies from the City College of New York and a Masters in Divinity with a focus in Liberation Theology and Ethics from Boston University School of Theology. Her passion centers around de-cloaking, naming and resisting injustice in our society. She is a sister, a daughter and believer in change. In all things she strives to create spaces where love, hope, peace, justice, and liberation are imagined, created and sustained.

Instagram: @marimosa243 @FSUMC

Twitter: @habichula

Music by: @siryalibeats

Vector Portrait by: Rafli

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Patrick: Welcome to the sound of the genuine. And man, when I tell you I'm excited about an episode in an interview. It's this interview right here. 

My guest today is Reverend Dorlimar Lebrón Malavé, who is one of the most inspiring pastors.  And also finds herself shepherding a history, a legacy, a congregation that's tied all the way back to the Young Lords to doing work in the community, when it's so desperately needed. Especially in these times.

Rev. It is good to see you, to hear your voice, to be with you. How are you doing? 

Dorlimar: I’m good. I'm good. Glad to be here. Thank you for the invite, Pat. 

Patrick: First, tell me where you are right now. Like currently in your life, where are you located?

Dorlimar: Currently I am in the Bronx in the South Bronx in particular, and I'm serving a local church in East Harlem.

Patrick: Is the Bronx where you grew up? 

Dorlimar: No, actually, I was born in Puerto Rico, but we moved to Brooklyn. And so I kind of grew up in what we call Old Brooklyn.  I actually grew up in a Puerto Rican neighborhood, Park Slope. But it's no longer Puerto Rican right? So we just have to say here in New York, I grew up in Puerto Rican Parks Slope. So people know this was like eighties, nineties. 

Patrick: Back when it was gentrified before it was gentrified. 

Dorlimar: Yes. Back in the day. 

Patrick: That's cool. And what was it like growing up there? 

Dorlimar: You know, it was a very close-knit community. Although my parents were very protective of us so, they had never lived in a big city like that. We were lucky enough that in that area where we lived, my dad was a pastor, the parsonage of the church had a little backyard. Not everyone had a backyard, but we did have some kind of backyard space. So we were able to hang out out there and play with the children of the families that live underneath our brownstone. 

Patrick: That's cool.  What was your role as pastor's kid and all that? 

Dorlimar: I'm third generation Methodist clergy kid. Our parsonage was actually right next to the church. So the church was connected to the brownstone. And so the backyard, wasn't just the parsonage back yard it was also the church backyard.

And so particularly on Sundays in the summertime, we would, often have barbecues where the church folks would come over. We would be there.  The church ladies always had a bazaar and they were always selling clothes from the bazaar. And honestly, during the weekdays me and the children who were my best friends right, from a Salvadorian family, we used to do skits. We used to take the clothes from the bazaar, set up a whole scene and do skits with the bazaar. 

Patrick:  That sounds incredible. And so much fun. Was that when you first said, oh okay, I think I'll be a pastor so I can keep running this bazaar. What'd you want to be when you grew up? 

Dorlimar: It's funny because I grew up in a very churchy family. My grandfather's clergy, my uncles are clergy. And when me and my cousins would come together, some of the games that we would play would be having church. So my older cousins were always the worship leaders, my brother always collected the offering. For some reason I was always the one entitled to be the preacher in these games.  Being a pastor was never something that I would have chosen for myself. You know as a pastor's kid, you see the good, the bad and the ugly, when it comes to church, when it comes to church ministry. And I was like, God this is, this is not going to be for me. And I probably felt that way up until maybe my second year in seminary. 

Patrick: It's not going to be the thing, but you went all the way through seminary. So what, what was the thing? What was it that you wanted to do? 

Dorlimar:  You know, I was not really clear what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to work with people. I knew I wanted to do something that lended itself to building a better world for people but I wasn't sure. And even when I went on to study sociology, minored in Black and Latino studies, you know, people were asking me, my parents, my family members were like, well what are you going to do with that? Are you going to be a social worker? Is that what you want to do? And I was like, no, I don't know that I want to be a social worker either. I just know that this is what I like. I was drawn for sociology. I was drawn to understanding how the systems of our society worked, for better or worse.

I had this huge kind of contradiction where, once you're in sociology, you learn about the history of Christianity. You learn about the history of colonization, right? And so here I am bringing this faith that has been such a crucial part of my family's life and my life for generations and I am learning how all these atrocities in the ways that this same faith was used to colonize my own people, my own communities.  And at the same time, it was in sociology that I came across W.E.B. Du Bois who uses litanies in his books. And I came across James Cone and I came across all these, you know, Frederick Douglass.

And I remember reading it and in the book, particularly W.E.B. DuBois' Dark Water was a deeply profound book that I think really shifted my thought process in the ways that the church has historically been, but also the possibilities of what church can do and the possibilities that church can bring about.

And in Dark Water, he has these litanies of lament and I was like, there's room for this also in this faith. And it was after that I was introduced to Mujerista theology. And I'm like, there's something here that I need to explore. And that was really what moved me to go to seminary. I still was clear. I can do this work. I can have this lens in whatever I do, wherever I end up working, I want to bring this lens.  Interestingly enough, not even one semester in, and I was already appointed as a student pastor in a local church in the Boston area. I went to Boston University School of Theology. And, you know, we make plans and God laughs. 

Patrick: I don't know if this is as much as you being PK and just being really kind of solid in the grounding of being a pastor, but to a lot of folks who go to an MDiv., getting a student appointment is both exciting and intimidating. Were you intimidated at all about taking on a pastor appointment as you're like wrestling with this? Like the church can be a thing, but it's also done some damage. What was that like to like step into leadership almost Immediately? 

Dorlimar: I have to be really honest, the situation was this. Some students were, there was like five of us, we were renting a parsonage that was not being used for a church. At the time the local pastor that was assigned there had his own house and all that. When we got there that semester that pastor had to move, something happened with his family. And so that church was left without a pastor.  And for us, we were, we just didn't want to lose the opportunity for this housing that was more affordable in Boston. I was talking to a friend of mine, he was a student with me from Puerto Rico. His English was not very good but he really had a call to be a pastor like, and he's had that call clear since he was five years old right? 

And he really wanted to lend himself to that. But was not comfortable really with the language. And so he was like, please do this with me so you can help me with the English and I can practice. And so in solidarity with my brother, I was like, I'm going to do this, but you better not leave me alone. I wasn't even comfortable preaching. But I knew church, I knew how to do church. In particular this was an Anglo church in probably the one red dot in all of like that Boston area.

It was an interesting experience. Initially, I guess I didn't really think too much about it. But I really felt there was a moment where I felt the call. I mean, I'll share this story. I told them, I was like, listen I'm going to go to the service and I'll let you know how I feel about the service. There was seven people sitting in the pews. Nobody was under 55 or under 60 really. And I pick up the Bible and I usually like to flip it and whatever opens up, that's what I feel is the spirit leading me right? And it was this text in Isaiah that was like, I have chosen you. I have put my words in your mouth. When you go through the waters, when you go through the fire, right? That's the text that I read. And I was like [makes sound) I’m gonna put this down. And so that day, Reverend Dr. Cristian De La Rosa, who is also a professor at BU was preaching and what was the text she preached on? The Isaiah text.

And so I'm like, oh my gosh, this is crazy. And then the lay leader of the church was the only other person of color. She was Indian. She was singing a hymn, and then she stopped everybody and she was like, guys when you sing these songs, you have to really mean the words and you have to know what you're singing and she stopped everything and made everybody sing the hymn again. At the end of the service, my boy, who was going to take this appointment gave me a cross, like a cross to wear. And on the back of the cross, it was that Isaiah text, I kid you not. And so I was like, well you know what God? We make plans and you just laugh at us. And I guess we're going to do this.

I decided that I was going to do it because I really felt this is what God was calling me to in that moment. And I also really appreciated the leadership, the lay leader of the church. It might have been a small church but when you're working with people who are on the same wavelength on the same vibe, I'll go through the waters, I'll go through the fires with you. And that was kind of what led me to accept that appointment, really that first semester in seminary. 

Patrick: That is so incredible, not just the Isaiah text piecing all the way through. I just want to put a finer point and emphasize this for listeners. You had three Latinos. And well, two Latinas, one Latino running an Anglo church in a red dot in Massachusetts preaching and finding your call. Oh my gosh.

Dorlimar: That's right. That's right. We did that maybe a year and a half when the black lives matter movement was really going on, right. This was probably right after Ferguson and stuff. Also when the summer of Pulse, when that happened at Pulse. And you know, the way me and my colleague looked at this was like, we're practicing right now. And these people don't have a lot to lose and we really challenged them. And not only did they grow, but we also grew. And also what it means to both challenge folks, stretch folks, and also meet them where they're at.

Patrick: Did they have a sense as you're doing this pastoring, you had kind of almost your first call. Did they have a sense of not just what was happening in current events like Pulse like Ferguson, but when you would preach from these and use the texts that were kind of enlivening you, like going back to Dubois, did they have any frame of reference for that? Did they have any frame of reference for Latinos in leadership? I mean, what was it like in that dynamic?

Dorlimar: I mean, listen, I remember having conversations with one of them explaining to them that I was from Puerto Rico. And they didn't even know where the Caribbean was on a map, like they didn't know how to place it. Let alone understand that Latinos come from all the old parts of the world, right? So no. And I remember one 4th of July, we came to the church and they had put all these American flags all over the church, these little flags. Everyone had their pins and me and Jonathan were like, we cannot celebrate this and sing all these American patriotic hymns without naming what's going on.

And so we made the decision right before service, we took down all the flags and in our sermons, we talked about the significance of this flag not meaning the same for everybody in this country. We talked about the role of Puerto Rico still as an occupied territory of the United States. And at the end of the service, one of the leaders that was leading one of the songs, we were supposed to sing America the Beautiful, and she's like we're not going to sing America the Beautiful, because America's not beautiful. And she changed the hymn right on the spot. Now people were pissed and people had a lot to say, and you know what we lost maybe out of those nine people, we may have lost maybe four, but we gained over 10 or 15 more people. One of the daughters of one of the longtime members of the church who was confirmed there, baptized there who had not been back, who did not come back because she was queer and we welcomed her back and she ended up getting married in that  community, her spouse joined the church.  You know, it's incredible what happened within the year and also incredible how, you know we're taught what we're taught in seminary, and we're not really sure how to bring that into our local church settings, because pastors are so often worried about how their salaries are going to get paid, how the bills of the church…they don't want to piss anybody off. It was actually more liberating to be in a small church like that, where we didn't have to rely on our salary.

We were getting a stipend and they were basically letting us live in the house, in the parsonage. So when you have that kind of freedom and liberty, you can really do the work that we're called to do, right? You can actually do the gospel in ways that you can't do when you're tied down to maybe a big wealthy church that, you know, will tell the pastors what they have to preach on.

Patrick: And did this start forming as you're going through seminary, what is possible for your ministry and what were you starting to imagine and dream of as you were going through your seminary experience? Like, what was it that you thought? Is it call to that  church or is it call to somewhere else? What were you thinking about in terms of your first full-time appointment?

Dorlimar: Well, again, God is funny the way God works. So, I had a very good friend, Jorge Rodriguez was also a PhD candidate at Union Seminary and him and I, we had known each other, but I think we were reconnected at Hispanic Summer Program. And he does a lot of his work all around the Young Lords, which was a Puerto Rican counterpart to the Black Panthers that emerged in Chicago and in New York city in the late 1960s. And in particular, the Young Lords occupied a Methodist Church in New York city. And so I remember learning about this history and in my undergrad because I went to school in Harlem.

And so you learn about this. And it was one of the first times I saw myself kind of like as an agent of change in the civil rights movement. And Jorge and I would joke around all the time about, because I was clear, you know I had this call for the gospel. I was in love with Jesus and not just any Jesus, I was in love with Jesus the revolutionary, Jesus who came to like disrupt the status quo. I did not see a church in my mind that had that, you know? In my mind, I was always saying we were going to have to create it. And so I would joke around with Jorge, like listen, we're gonna make the people's church.

And we're going to talk about the peoples Jesus and people are going to know.  We're gonna make an impact in our communities claiming this historical Jesus, that cared about the least of these, that prioritized the least of these, right? That walked, with the people, with the workers, the fishermen, right?

You know, we would joke around and I was like and Jorge, you're going to be our historian and this is going to be epic. And that was like a lot of things that we talked about when I was in seminary. Even with my fellow colleagues, we always said what we're going to have to build it. Because these more justice centered, progressive churches are very white. And then the Latino Black churches that we were drawn to that spirit, right? That Methocostal spirit that we still carried from our grandmothers was too limited and oppressed in our own churches. So we were determined that we were going to create like this Methocostal spirit filled justice centered, fully inclusive church. We didn't know where it was going to be. We didn't know whether it was going to be Methodist but we knew that if we wanted to work in a local church setting, that would probably be the only way.  So even when I graduated seminary, I was not convinced that I was going to be in the local church. I was applying to a bunch of different other kinds of faith-based jobs, community organizing jobs, but I was like, I'm not going to go into a process. In the Methodist church, the Bishop appoints you to whatever church is available that he thinks your gifts will fit in.

 When I graduated, I had just come back from living in Cuba for six months. I was able to travel and study abroad in Cuba and the seminary in Matanzas where I focused my studies on the liberation theology in Cuba which is the one liberation theology from Latin America that I've found from a Protestant perspective. So a lot of the liberation theology, you know, Gustavo Guiterrez, all of that is very, it's Catholic-based. In Cuba, Sergio Arce, who is a Presbyterian minister and professor, he developed what he called theology in revolution, which is basically theology lived in a socialist context, in the context in which they were in. For me that was so profound including seeing that he had worked with folks like James Cone in the seventies to talk about these liberation theologies that had emerged. When I graduated, I was clear that I did not want to go to just any random church.

And I got a call from my Bishop and he's like, you know Dorlimar, I know you are not sure what appointment you want to get, but I want you to consider this appointment. And he tells me that they are in the process of restarting a ministry in East Harlem at the first Spanish United Methodist Church. The same church that the young Lords occupied in 1969.

And so here I am, floored. First person I called was Jorge, and I was like, you will not believe the call I just got. And literally it was, this is going to be your appointment to do with it what you want. You are like the last man standing - the last woman standing because they were getting ready to possibly close the church. And they were like, we want to restart it, we think that there's a ministry that could happen here, and we think you're the one to do it. 

Patrick: Did you put your name in? People can't see what's happening on the zoom screen here, but you're shaking your head no. This seems like a, going back to that Isaiah moment popping open the Bible. This is what needed to happen, and it did. Is that how it went down? 

Dorlimar: Yeah. I mean first of all, I know this church because I grew up in this conference. I grew up in New York. Out of all the Latino churches in the New York conference, this is probably the most conservative one, like traditional high church. I mean, you go there before every service, the pastors in her robe, she repeats a scripture. The congregation stands. They repeat the scripture. And she processes down. I mean this high church, traditional kind of church, is that what it was.

And I knew that and I was like, even when the Bishop told me this, I was like I need to go visit this church. Maybe it's not what I remember it to be, but I need to go.  I went on a Sunday and they were having Bible study. Most of them didn't recognize me because I hadn't been there since I was little. I sat down and somebody immediately gave me their devotional, whatever Bible study book they were reading right? So I'm like, oh that was nice. That's very thoughtful. They're being conscious of somebody new, you know, hospitality. The Bible study finishes and they ring this huge bell that's at the front of the sanctuary like, it's time for service, everybody round up the troops. And again, we proceed with the very traditional kind of entrance. The pastor recognized me right away. And you know, it was a very traditional service, older folks. We finished the service. They’re like, are you going to come for coffee hour, come and stay for coffee hours.

Of course, I went to get some cafe con leche. People are cutting it up with crackers and cheese and I go to leave. And the elder of the church, she was like 95 when I met her. I mean, she's like still walks with her cane. You know, she was sitting down and she looks at me and she goes, like she's like telling me to come towards her. And so I come towards her and I kind of kneeled because she was sitting down and I wanted to be eye level with her. And she's like, Jesus said I just need to pray for you right now. And she starts to pray for me. And she starts to say all the things that I needed to hear.

Jesus is saying, stop questioning it. You're not going to be alone. This is where I've called you to, stop doubting yourself. I'm going to be with you, and I'm of course, immediately I’m bawling.

And the rest is history. And I said, yes, to this church, to these people. I come to find out later on that that 95 year old woman was the same woman who played the organ when the Young Lords occupied the church.  There was a scene when the young Lords were trying to negotiate with the leadership of the church to offer free breakfast programs and free community programs, where they came in on a testimony Sunday and Felipe Luciano the chairman of the Young Lords got up to give his testimony and to explain why they wanted to use the space. He didn't know that the pastor had already had undercover cops in the congregation. And so the cops basically tried to take them out and a brawl ensued in the sanctuary space, on a testimony Sunday.

And my dear sister Benito Rodriguez was playing the organ, Onward Christian Soldiers as the Young Lords were getting beat up in the sanctuary. This was the same Benita that prayed for me on the day that I got there and was like you're the one for our church. You're the one that needs to be here.  Okay I'm not going to say she told me you're the one for our church. She didn't know she was saying that, but that's what she was saying when she was praying for me. And it's been…it's been quite a journey. A lot of the work that I've done aside from taking care of a building that was falling apart, aside from taking care of an older congregation that was not welcoming to change and transition and was finding themselves in a place, in position where they were kind of forced into that.

But again, this idea of like pushing folks as well as meeting them where they're at. It was a lot of learning of what my limits were, you know, in the sense that I'm not going to change everybody, but I can love everybody as long as they allow me to. And I told them that. I was like, even though my conference was determined to kind of shut them down, I advocated and said, I need to have a traditional service for them, even with whatever else I do. Like there's no way you're going to use me to gentrify these people, displace them in a time where they're seeing displacement all around them! So I was determined to continue to work with them. You know, everybody was like, that's just going to make your life horrible and long and hard.

And it was! And let me tell you, I love my church ladies, but my God, church ladies are something else. And imagine these are all like, these are all like my grandmothers and my aunties.  But you know, I was able to show up for them. And then, you know, Benita's son passed away maybe the first six or seven months that I was there.

And that was her only living relative. And I was there with her the whole time. You know, interestingly enough, when I said I didn't want to be a social worker, being a pastor also is somewhat being a social worker. I made all the calls for her. She didn't know what to do, but he was a veteran so I got him a space at one of the veteran cemeteries. And I think showing up for her in that way made her love me in a way that she probably couldn't before. She would, she would be the first one in the Bible studies to say, ‘I read this before’. Not just that, not just read it, she memorized it.

She knew it by heart. Right? She's like, I just don't know what you can teach me. But after these kind of lived experience and again, journeying with people. Both pushing them challenging them, but also meeting them where they're at was really impactful. Both for her and for me. We're celebrating her 99th birthday this May. You know, the pandemic has made it very difficult to stay in contact, physical contact with them. And really with someone like Benita, even calling her on the phone is really hard because she can't really hear anymore.  You know, I have to kind of keep my distance and she's been a little mad at me about that.

Cause she doesn't understand that I'm just trying to help protect her. To keep saying that is, the pandemic was very challenging, it was also a huge opportunity for me because we couldn't have church in the four walls. So much of my time was consumed with, okay how are we going to create this worship experience to attract new people who may have trauma with the church who may not be engaged with the church?

So you spend so much time, how do we be creative? How many lights, what kind of sound system do we need? You know what songs are we going to sing? But when the pandemic happened, that was no longer a concern. Because we couldn't meet in person. And so, we were able to really do the ministry and do the work of meeting the need and meeting the least of these.

When the pandemic started, we started doing some food deliveries to maybe four or five of the elders in the community. And eventually that need increased. And to date we have a huge food prep program that serves over 500 families every Saturday. This is all community led. It is based on mutual aid. The same people that come to pick up the food are the same people that volunteered to help distribute it, to help clean the church to help do that.  

In the history and legacy also of the Young Lords, we have started a community healing space where we're offering community acupuncture, aroma therapy, all these kinds of holistic practices to help manage stress and anxiety. We particularly focused on undocumented communities. We particularly focused on folks without insurance and it has really been beautiful to see. And even some of the members of the church who may have left when I got there and didn't really like the change, one of them stopped by two weeks ago and looked at me and was like, pastor, you really did this. This is what you said you always wanted to do. You’re feeding the people and you're giving them clothes, right? Because Matthew 25 has been my texts. I'm like, guys I'm not making this up! You know I'm not, I'm not creating this. The part of our decolonial project as pastors, right is kind of using terminology and the same scriptures that they use that churches know, to help them rethink and kind of begin to shed these notions of what church is, which are very Americanized, very colonized. Oftentimes churches, instead of being outpost of liberation they serve as guardians of oppressive status quo, right?

When the Young Lords came into that church, that's kind of what they were saying. I think that part of liberating the gospel is bringing light to this, like theological crisis that is at the heart of a Christian message, which we have seen erupt at the Capitol.

We have seen so clearly that there's a few different kinds of Jesus’ that people are worshiping out there. And to be clear God is a God of the oppressed. God is on the side of David not the Goliaths. So we're not just the people's church, but we offer a peoples Jesus.  A Christ who lived a life of sacrifice and who was willing to die for what he believed. Jesus resisted empire. Jesus resisted religious institutional leadership. And I think the only way some of these mainline denominations are going to continue to live and survive and thrive is creating spaces for leaders like myself, to be able to truly live into the call of liberating the gospel for all of us.

Patrick: We've done a lot of interviews, that's beyond inspiring. I think, especially as you think about your pastoral ministry in the image and the likeness in the spirit of the gospel of a Jesus that is liberating people, both on a systems level, but also for the people - feeding people. It's incredible.

So I just got one more question for you, as you think about your call in this sort of spirit, the spirit a ministry guided by a gospel, a gospel of liberation, a gospel of freedom. How much of that sense of call as you lead the People's Church is driven by the community and how much is driven by your own sort of sense of, this is what, when Jesus talks about what ministry is, this is what it is, or this is your sense of call about what ministry should be in the world or what the church should do in the world. How much is driven by community, how much is driven by your own sort of sense of call?

Dorlimar: I think I would have to say 90% of it is driven by community and the other part, the call, is just me saying yes. You know, I have roots in Spanish Harlem. My family has historical migration patterns through East Harlem, but I walked around and I wanted to see what was going on, who were the movers, who were the shakers, what was happening?

I want to share this story because I talk about I don't do this work alone.  And just like I had leaders in Boston, I have an amazing lay leader. So I was walking around the community and and on Saturdays in the summertime pre-pandemic we used to have salsa Saturdays.

And I went one Saturday and I was like amazed because it was over 400 people.  Everybody was coming out to dance salsa. People had their food,they were selling and you know, it was also like these kinds of, opportunities for local economies to flourish. I'm like looking around and it must've been pride salsa Saturdays. I have never in my life seen all these Puerto Rican's older folks out here with this obvious pride Saturday. And so I see this young man He's a bodybuilder, right? He looks like your typical image of what machista would look like. And he's wearing this hat with like a little propeller, rainbow color hat with little propeller. And he's like, we just want you to know that this is all about love.

And we come here to show the community love every week, blah, blah, blah. Right? And I'm like, I need to meet this guy.  I'm like, you know, I'm the pastor of the church, the People’s Church. And he didn't really care. He was like, oh I already got a church. You know, I gave him my card. He gave me his card and we're supposed to get in touch.

But he wasn't really paying me no mind. And then in December we had a huge event commemorating the occupation of the Young Lords in the church. It was the first event that the church members had had with the Young Lords so it was pretty epic. We had over 400 people attend, and then he called me when he heard about it because he couldn't make it.

And he was like, pastor I just want you to know I'm here. He went looking for me too at other churches, and he eventually found me. He's like, I just want you to know I'm here. I'm ready to work. And he has not left my side since then.  He's been with me through thick and thin. And he's been the one that's helped me develop the programs that we're doing. Anytime I need something at the church, he's coordinating our volunteers now. He's coordinating all the building things. I mean he's become my, he's my Peter, he's my rock, you know, and he's street! So he will let you know, you know, in a heartbeat. And that's why I call him my Peter. Cause like he has no problem letting you know. And a couple of weeks ago, he was talking to me, he was like you know, pastor, you know that story in the Bible when Jesus was like, come with me and I'll make you fishers of men.

He's like that's what you did for me. He was like, you made me a fisher of something more powerful and something more purposeful. And I don't care, whatever happens or wherever this takes us or takes you, like I just need you to know that. And I share that story in saying that, you know, you will find your people in the least of places that you would expect.

And it's those very people that will hold you down. Not just in a particular project or in the church, but hold you down in your call and affirm you for what you've been called to do. Even when it may not make sense to a lot of people. It didn't make sense to a lot of people what I was doing when I first got there.

People didn't understand the history of the Young Lords. People didn't care. You know, this church is a part of the civil rights freedom movements in our country. And y'all were just about to sell the building? Make sure you have your people. That's a lesson to learn once you have your people and you are clear in your yes, you can do what you need to do. And go where God is calling you to go, whether you want to or not.

Patrick: Well Dorlimar, that was incredible. It's inspiring. I think you are leading one of the, not just a historic church of the freedom movement, but I think for contemporary struggle especially as millennials and gen Z, think about church, the People's Church is what I see as ministry. I'm grateful for you grateful to know, you grateful you shared your story. Glad you opened up Isaiah and said, yes, glad you took the church in Harlem and glad you're doing the work that you do in the world. Cause you're not just calling that local community, I feel like you're calling the rest of us, myself included to be better Christians, to be better followers of a revolutionary Jesus at work for the freedom of our people. So thank you so much. I'm so grateful for it. 

Dorlimar: Thank you for having me.

Patrick: Thank you again for listening to the sound of the genuine. We know you have an inspiring story, like my Reverend shepherding the People's Church. Drop us a line, send us an email. We want to hear that story. Special gratitude to Elsie Barnhart and Heather Wallace and @YaliBeats for his music. 

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