Answering the call to ministry
Motivated by the changed concept of ministry in the New Apostolic Church, the Regional Church USA developed a preparatory process for potential ministers. Alberto Marquez was one of the first to go through it. He has been serving as a Deacon in his congregation in the Bronx, in New York City, since May 2022.
Please tell us a few things about yourself.
I grew up in a small town in the south called Harlingen, Texas, near the border to Mexico. I studied civil engineering with a focus on structures and moved to New York City, the mecca of design, after getting my master’s degree. My wife and I love to travel, hike, and eat new foods. When I have time, I enjoy cycling, gardening, and reading. We also have a dog.
How did you come to the New Apostolic faith?
Through my wife, Emily. We met in a restaurant where I had a part-time job as a server while I was finishing my studies. I had grown up in a Catholic home and had taken some time out from active church membership at the time. To me Emily was a great example of the love and community that we find in our congregations. The passion I have seen in many ministers has been a beacon of God’s love for me in my life as well.
You were one of the first to go through the five-step process newly established in your Regional Church to prepare ministers for ordination and serving as a minister. How helpful was that for you personally?
I found it helped me to familiarise myself with the Catechism of our Church, and it gave me much food for thought. I felt that both the investment as such and the focus on bonding with the other new ministers valuable and inspiring.
The first step in this process was a conversation with your rector, who had previously spoken to the Apostle about how you could contribute your God-given gifts to the congregation. What was it like?
I had been doing many things in the congregation already before I was ordained and initially asked why I needed to become a minister. With time and through many patient discussions my Evangelist was able to convey the value of the ministry to me.
Step two in the process includes a detailed discussion to which the partner is also invited. What was your wife’s reaction?
My wife was involved from the beginning. She was both cautious and prayerful. One of our main concerns and questions was about my future responsibilities and what I would be involved in. The conversations between us took a few months until we both felt ready for a ministry.
At this point within the process the rector takes care of the formalities. He has to initiate a proposal. What was the next step?
The third step of the process involves a few weeks of online training. You have approximately three months to complete the course work. Although I had some theological knowledge, I learned quite a bit. If I had any questions, I could contact my congregational rector or Apostle.
The fourth step is the National New Minister Conference for newly ordained ministers and ministers-to-be. What was it like?
It was a busy weekend with many workshops and discussions. During the conference it was especially nice to see how committed our Apostles and the District Apostle are in training and teaching the ministers. I had the pleasure of meeting three newly ordained Apostles and many brothers, as well as some who had recently immigrated to the USA. That was a real blessing.
The fifth and final step is the ordination. In your case it was before the National New Minister Conference. When exactly?
I was ordained a Deacon on 29 May 2022 in the Bronx congregation by Apostle Fendt. The level of commitment that I made is always present in my mind.
Is there a special moment you recall in your first year as Deacon? And what does ministry mean to you?
I was called to assist in a divine service based on John 3: 16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” That was very special because it is the one verse I memorised as a child and have not forgotten since. For me personally, serving as a minister is not only a blessing for the members, but also for my family and me.
The full interview was originally published in the German magazine Unsere Familie, issue 11/2023.