In memoriam of Rev. Modesto D. López: A celebration of his life, ministry and ordination

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 10/12/20)—El Pastor, Rev. Modesto D. López (DeLeon López), 92, of Orlando, Florida, passed away on September 5, 2020. Born in Gurabo, Puerto Rico, on January 15, 1928, Rev. López arrived on the mainland of the United States in 1945; he was recruited to serve in the U.S. Army. After he married his devoted wife, Juanita Figueroa López, they began their life journey in the ministry. Following extensive seminary preparation and mentoring, Rev. López answered his call to preach the Gospel and was ordained in 1951 in Chicago, Illinois, at Central Baptist Church. His first assignment was to provide leadership to the mission’s development for American Baptist Churches USA. This included church planting and youth ministry targeting Chicago street gangs, some of which are now ordained pastors.

In the early 1960s Rev. López’s ministry took him to migrant camps throughout northern Illinois and southeast and south central Wisconsin. He worked alongside leaders of the farm workers movements to establish cultural and linguistically relevant programs in the local schools for their children. These efforts were the precursor to today’s bilingual education programs, school nutritional programs, and the hiring of Latino staff and teachers.

Over the years, Rev. López founded several Baptist churches to serve the spiritual needs of the growing Latino population and created collaborations with many established churches to hold Sunday services in Spanish. He also served as pastor in numerous churches, including but not limited to: North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago; First Baptist Church, Elgin, Illinois; First Baptist Church, Racine, Wisconsin; and First Baptist Church and Central Baptist Church in Orlando, along with a host of other American Baptist churches. The fruits of his labor on behalf of the Lord are still significant more than a half-century later, as there remains a loyal and faithful cadre of members of the American Baptist Churches in the regions to this day.

He undertook leadership roles which supported and informed his ministry, including: president, National Baptist Churches USA and Puerto Rico; vice-president, American Baptist Churches USA, General Board; board of International Ministries, and the American Baptist Convention, Division of World Mission Support on Church Stewardship. Rev. López also served in the Puerto Rico National Guard, and was a veteran of the Korean War era. These combined life experiences led to the next natural stage of his service. Although he retired 28 years ago from American Baptist Churches USA, he served as the chaplain for military veterans and founded and served as senior pastor for La Fraternidad Cristiana at a senior mobile home community in Orlando.

Marking his 75th year in the ministry, Rev. López was recognized in a special service on the anniversary of his ordination on January 22, 2017, in Orlando. On January 15, 2018, for his 90th birthday celebration, he received a special recognition from American Baptist Home Mission Societies. Rev. López celebrated his 92nd birthday on January 15, 2020. He touched thousands of lives as God’s warrior for three-quarters of a century. Rev. Lopez received full military honors by the U.S. Army at internment on September 15, 2020.

American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.