BEAST (August 19, 2022)

Church Found Out In Sunday Morning Service Their Prominent Pastor Has Died

A Harvard-educated pastor who grew a small congregation to one of the most influential evangelical congregations in Boston has died.

A prominent Boston Hispanic Pentecostal pastor, known for his church’s social programs and conservative teaching, has died, according to his church.

Pastor Roberto Miranda’s death was announced Sunday (May 22) during services at Congregation Lion of Judah in Boston, which was streamed online.

“So many of those of you who are joining us watching this and hearing this for the very first time, we’re just simply letting them know that our senior pastor, beloved of all of us, Roberto Miranda, has graduated,” said Brandt Gillespie, who was leading the service at Lion of Judah.

“He has gone. He is in the presence of the Lord.”

The announcement came after the congregation at Lion of Judah, a bilingual church also known as Congregación Leon de Judá, sang “It Is Well With My Soul,” a popular hymn with lyrics written by Horatio Spafford in the 1870s, after his children died in a shipwreck. The story of the song’s writing had been told during a sermon at the church the previous week.

Gillespie led the congregation in singing a refrain of the hymn and told them it was alright to grieve their beloved pastor.

“It’s going to take a long journey to come to grips with this,” said Gillespie.

Miranda, who was born in 1955, became pastor of what was a modest Hispanic congregation of about 60 people after earning a doctorate from Harvard. He had hoped to become a professor of Romance languages but gave up his dreams of teaching for the pastorate.

Under his leadership, Lion of Judah grew to a congregation of about 1,000 people, which draws people from 30 countries. The congregation runs social programs to minister to immigrants, serve the poor and help people overcome “anything that prevents people from becoming what God intended them to be,” Miranda told Religion News Service in 2019.

He also did not shy away from addressing hot-button issues from the pulpit, including his support for pro-immigration policies and his opposition to same-sex marriage. 

“People felt that I had a kind of suicide complex,” he told RNS in 2019. “To undertake these issues from the pulpit was kind of dangerous, inflammatory and provoking … But I felt in my heart that I needed for people to know how I thought and how I felt about certain issues.”

Miranda was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the US as a child to join his father. Academically gifted, he graduated from Phillips Academy, a prominent prep school whose alumni include Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush, and later attended Princeton and Harvard.  

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