VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 10/6/20)—The Rev. Modesto DeLeon Lopez, 92, a founder of several American Baptists churches that served the growing Latinx population, died Sept. 5. He was a devoted and beloved husband of the late Juanita Lopez.
Born on Jan. 15, 1928, he was a son of Generosa DeLeon and Ignacio Lopez.
After extensive seminary training, he was ordained at Central Baptist Church, Chicago, in 1951.
His first job for American Baptist Churches USA included church planting and youth ministry aimed at Chicago street gangs.
Lopez’s ministry in the 1960s was a precursor to today’s bilingual education and school nutritional programs, as he traveled to migrant camps in Illinois and Wisconsin to help establish culturally relevant school programs for Latinx children.
To serve the growing Latinx population over the years, he founded several Baptist churches and collaborated with other churches to hold services in Spanish.
His pastorates included North Shore Baptist Church, Chicago; First Baptist Church, Elgin, Ill.; First Baptist Church, Racine, Wis.; and First Baptist Church and Central Baptist Church, both Orlando.
After retiring, he served as a chaplain for military veterans, founding and serving as senior pastor for La Fraternidad Cristiana at a senior mobile home community in Orlando.
Lopez served in the Puerto Rico National Guard, and was a veteran of the Korean War.
For his 90th birthday celebration in 2018, he received special recognition from ABHMS.
Survivors: daughters; Celeste (nee Gregorie), Jeanne (nee Fagan), Generosa (nee Molina); son, Modesto; grandchildren; great-grandchildren; great-great-grandchildren; sisters, Carmen Martinez, Francisca Lopez, Maria Luisa Orozco, Elsie Lopez, Sonia Ramos, Norma Perez; two brothers, Ignacio Lopez and Pablo Lopez; and countless nieces and nephews.
Services: A private family service was held. A public graveside service was held at Highland Memory Gardens, Apopka, Fla., with FM broadcasting and live streaming. It can be viewed online at https://www.geminigraphicsstreaming.com/Highland/MLopez.MOV.
American Baptist Home Mission Societies partners with American Baptists to promote Christian faith, cultivate Christ-centered leaders and disciples, and bring healing and transformation to communities across the United States and Puerto Rico.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.