PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Reverend Dr. Enrique Lebron of United Methodist Church in Riverhead.
The Reverend Dr. Enrique Lebron was born in Puerto Rico and raised in The Bronx until he was 10 years old. He eventually returned to Puerto Rico, studied and became a pastor. During 26 years as a minister, he has served congregations from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn, Central Islip and Queens.
Now, the Rev. Lebron, father of two college students, is coming to Riverhead’s United Methodist Church.
The News-Review sat down with the Rev. Lebron this month to talk about his goals for the church and how he can meet the spiritual needs of the community.
Q: What motivated you to become a minister?
A: It began as being a good member of the church. I came to the church 11 years old. My teens and my youth, I was very active in the church. I had a love for the church and the ministry already, but you need to receive a call before you go to ministry. I receive a call from God and I responded. The call to come back to New York was fantastic. God gave me the opportunity to return to the city with a new message and a new way of thinking and bringing hope to the families.
Q: You’ve been around this area before, but have never lived in Riverhead. What are you most looking forward to while you are a pastor here?
A: I see a lot of potential. Potential in terms of family, children, man and woman, the immigrants. There’s beauty in all that and … we can reach out and help people develop and motivate students to get the best of them. I’m already family centered. All my ministries helped to take care of the family and make them strong.
Q: You mentioned plans to work with the growing Hispanic population in town. How so?
A: We plan to open a Spanish mission to offer services in Spanish, too. This will be something new. [The church] has prepared already last year to make it happen. It’s not an accident I’m here. This church has a heart for the community and knows the needs of the community.
Q: What sort of things would you like to accomplish at this church?
A: We have a lot of lovely people here that would like to share the Good News and hope with the community, no matter the language, no matter the ethnicity, no matter the social standing. We want to work together with the other leadership in the community, like political leaders, business leaders, hospitals, social workers, the schools. We want to be part of a network to work together to support the good things that are happening in Riverhead.
Q: Tell us a little about your family. Do they live in Riverhead?
A: I am married and have two kids. My wife is a registered nurse at the Central Islip High School. My son, Enrique, works at LaGuardia … he is studying to be an air dispatcher. His sister also works at the airport; she is studying to be a paralegal and do international relations. They live together in an apartment in Queens.
Q: What do you like to do in your free time, when you’re not working with members of the community?
A: I ride motorcycles. I have a Harley, so I’m a clergy rider [laughs]. I like the water, you know, the beach. I love the land, the place. I’d like to travel around and see the beauty that we have here, and also work in favor of the conservation of the land. Everything that can help not only the people, but everything God has given us … to be [a] good steward.
Q: What do you think will be the biggest challenge you’ll face here in Riverhead?
A: We are ready. We live challenge by challenge and we’re ready for everything that will come. We’re not afraid, we just work with hope, with love and with God. There is no challenge you cannot go over. Challenge is good. It helps you mature, it helps you develop and learn, and the church is always here to learn, and to teach.