Jonathan and Rev. Lisa Lopez-Meyer.

On Sunday, Jan. 3, First Presbyterian Church of Winnebago welcomed a new pastor, Rev. Lisa López-Meyer.  Pastoral ministry wasn’t Lisa’s original plan.

She was completing a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry degree at the University of Puerto Rico, Mayagüez Campus, with the goal of becoming a psychiatrist. 

“I heard the call of God to serve in the church, and I started working with churches.” Lisa explains,  “The call was confirmed through prayer and discernment.”

She graduated from college in 2008. She continued her education at Princeton Theological Seminary, earning a Master of Divinity degree in 2011.

Soon after graduation, she began her first assignment, a year-long ministry as Assistant Minister at Groomsport Presbyterian Church in County Down, Northern Ireland.  There she did teaching, preaching, and youth work. She was ordained for that position, allowing her to perform all functions of ministry.

She then became pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Hanover Park near Chicago, serving from October of 2012 through December of 2020.

While there, she began an on-line relationship with her husband-to-be, Jonathan Meyer of Springfield.  The two met for their first in-person date in Dwight.  They were married on Sept. 25, 2020 in Springfield, Ill. Jonathan is employed by Horace Mann Insurance, working from home.  The couple makes their home in Winnebago.

Lisa was born on Nov. 10, 1986 in Urbana to Puerto Rican parents, Ricardo López Rodríguez and Sandra Marcial Ramírez.  Her full birth name is Lisa Magaly López Marcial.

Her parents had come to Urbana, so her father could study for a PhD. in engineering.

Her mother has an engineering degree in transportation.  The family returned to their hometown, Cabo Rojo (Red Cape), where Lisa grew up.  Her father is Catholic, while her mother is Presbyterian.

Both Lisa’s home life and her schooling were bilingual, and she is fluent in both Spanish and English.

She says, “I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t exposed to both.”

Knowing both languages has been an asset to ministry.  While taking Clinical Pastoral Education at Cooper University Hospital in Camden New Jersey, she was often called upon to meet with Spanish-speaking patients.  Conversing with them in their native tongue helped them feel at ease.

Spanish was also an advantage in Hanover Park, where there is a large Latino population.

When asked about her vision for First Presbyterian, Lisa responded: “I’m still learning about the community and the church’s gifts and passions.  My goal is that we will articulate a vision together, as well as recognize opportunities, and that we will be able to grow together.”

She comments that what she enjoys about ministry is “getting to know who people are.  As they trust, they open up about their experiences in life. They share the impact of a ministry message. I see how lives are changed because of the power of the Gospel.”

Aspects of ministry Lisa finds challenging are, “You never know what to expect.  Ministry surprises you. There is always something new to understand. You can never stop learning, and it requires constant attention.”

When Pastor Lisa takes time off she enjoys a variety of activities.  These include reading, exercise, watching a good movie, having a meal in a restaurant, viewing art, attending a theater, and walking in a park with her husband.

First Presbyterian Church is located at 208 W. Winnebago St.  Sunday worship begins at 10:30 a.m.

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