Banner: Tell us a bit about yourself and the world you live in.
Rev. Esteban Lugo: I’m from Puerto Rican descent. One of six children, I was born and raised in Chicago. My family and I lived in Arizona’s Phoenix Valley for about 12 years before coming to Grand Rapids, Michigan. I was recently diagnosed with diabetes. So, in addition to dealing with issues of adjusting to a new work routine, environment, geography, and climate, I must also change my lifestyle (diet and exercise). My wife and I are quickly reaching empty-nester status. We’re also going through the exercise of finding a home church, which is really foreign to us after having pastored churches for more than 26 years. I must say it’s a difficult task.
Banner: What role does your church play in your life?
Lugo: Because the church is everything to God, I endeavor to make it everything to me. The local church is the arena where I worship, serve, am served, discipled, and loved. It’s where I grow as a member of the family of God.
Banner: How did you come into the CRC?
Lugo: In 1975, through Rev. Manny Ortiz, I came to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ and began getting involved in the ministry of the church he pastored. That was Spirit and Truth Fellowship in Chicago, an independent church that served Chicago’s inner city. It was established by the collaboration of Pastors Ortiz, Randy Baker, Bob Crawford, and myself. In the early ’80s we were invited by the Christian Reformed Church to bring the congregation under the CRC flagship.
Banner: What unique perspective, practice, or point of view do you and people from your culture or walk of life contribute to our church?
Lugo: Our emphasis on relationships. People, family, and culture are very important to us. For example, let’s say we go to a meeting—many people will want to immediately get down to business and do the agenda. For us, it’s more important to first do relationship connecting, then go into business. Trust is a key element to doing business, and I can’t trust you unless I know you.
Banner: What makes it easy for you to be part of the CRC? What makes it difficult?
Lugo: Our theology makes it easy—the comprehensiveness of God’s sovereignty and rule over all things and the emphasis on his kingdom for us in the here and now. What makes it hard are tribalistic attitudes and slowness to change. For example, we still have a bent for preserving the dominant culture to the exclusion of others surrounding it. That hinders true community.
Banner: What do you believe to be the common bond or bonds that CRC folks should all share?
Lugo: Micah 6:8 teaches that God requires something of all of us:
• all of us are to have an affection for mercy;
• all of us are to do justice and care about and practice equity;
• all of us are to walk humbly before God.
“Humbly” in this context means recognizing that God is God and you’re not. He’s the Creator; we are creatures. That means all of us human beings are on equal footing before our Creator. No one is greater than the other.
Banner: What are you itching to tell our readers?
Lugo: We all must become intentional about racial reconciliation if we want to see the CRC in line with God’s agenda for the church.
Banner: In all your years of preaching, what did you say from the pulpit that got the biggest laugh?
Lugo: I can’t really remember what it was I said, but it must have been really funny because even the babies laughed . . . and they were all the way in the nursery!