Photo by Ginny Kropf: Olga Gonzalez recently assumed duties as new pastor of the Lyndonville United Methodist Church. She sits in her office working on a sermon.
LYNDONVILLE – The congregation of Lyndonville United Methodist Church has welcomed a new pastor after the Rev. Beth Malone was transferred to a new church.
Olga Gonzalez, a native of Puerto Rico, assumed her duties the first week in July.
She said coming to the area and becoming a minister was God’s plan.
Gonzalez and her husband Alexis first came to the Upstate New York in 2002, arriving in Syracuse to visit his family.
After receiving a bachelor of arts degree as an administrative assistant and a master’s in social work in Puerto Rico, Gonzalez took a job as a mental health counselor at a community health center in Syracuse.
In December 2011, she was praying and asking for a job where she could use the gifts and talents God had given her.
“In January 2012, I received an e-mail from a friend in Syracuse who knew a pastor who was looking for a missions worker,” Gonzalez said. “She said she knew I had a heart for missions and thought of me. I looked to the Lord and said, ‘You work fast.’”
She got in touch with the pastor of Brown Memorial Methodist Church in Syracuse and began the process to come to the area, working with Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.
She and her husband arrived in Syracuse in June 2012. She worked there four years, where they helped start a new Hispanic Methodist Church, the first and only one in Syracuse, and in 2016, she began studies to become a pastor. She is currently working to get her master’s of divinity at Northeast Seminary at Roberts Wesleyan College.
In January 2015, Gonzalez was appointed assistant pastor of the Cicero United Methodist Church.
Her husband had said he would go wherever God sent them. She had never heard of Lyndonville when she was appointed here, she said.
“But after six years in the city, I said, ‘Hallelujah.’ I’ve already fallen in love with Lyndonville.”
The Fourth of July was the first time in her life Gonzalez had seen fireworks, she said.
“What a Fourth,” she said.
She said she is touched by how friendly people are in Lyndonville.
“People are calling to ask if I needed anything,” she said. “I know how hard it is for a congregation to face this kind of change, but they have been very welcoming.”
Living in the country is closer to God’s creation, the pastor said.
In October, she is planning to go on a mission trip to Cuba. The church in Cicero is collecting money and school supplies to be delivered there.
“I’m ready for this journey,” she added.
Church member Ruth Hedges said, as much as they loved the Rev. Malone, the congregation is very impressed with Gonzalez.
“She is so full of energy,” Hedges said. “I think she is going to be just great.”
The church is having Family Fun Night from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Sundays and recently started “Unplugged for Kids,” featuring organized play time for families, with refreshments, prayer and games.
Summer worship hour is 10 a.m. on Sundays and beginning Aug. 5, they started a garden service at 8:15 a.m. at Robin Hill Estate on Platten Road.
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