BY BILL MCINTYRE
First Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) of DeLand is celebrating! The church has just installed a dynamic new pastor and in the same week is commemorating the 140th anniversary of the DeLand congregation’s founding in 1883.
The installation ceremony for the church’s new pastor, the Rev. Carlos J. Perez, was followed by a celebratory reception in the fellowship hall hosted by the Disciple Women. The congregation has been greatly enriched by the presence of Perez and his enthusiastic and compassionate approach to ministry, especially with his uplifting sermons.
Perez assumed the role of pastor last November, and he was formally installed at a beautiful ceremony Feb. 25 in the church sanctuary.
The church conducted an extensive search process after the death of Pastor Elizabeth Carrasquillo in December 2021. The congregation voted unanimously in September to appoint Perez as senior minister and pastor.
At the age of 34, Perez is a native of Bayamón, Puerto Rico. His parents are devoted members of the Disciples of Christ Church, which greatly influenced Perez in his youth.
He graduated from the University of Puerto Rico with a B.A. in psychology. He also has an M.S. in industrial/organizational psychology from Carlos Albizu University.
He has been married to his wife, Vanessa Perez, M.D., for 17 years. She is a pediatric emergency physician. The couple have three children — Valeria, Marcos and Eduardo.
In 2010, the Perez family relocated from Puerto Rico to Michigan, where Vanessa Perez completed her residency in medicine and Carlos Perez worked as a human resources specialist.
After three years in Michigan, the couple settled in Orlando, where they became involved in the Arise Christian Church, working in several ministries.
Pastor Perez felt the calling to ministry through the inspiration of the Rev. Samuel Robles Jr. He entered Asbury Theological Seminary, where he achieved the degree of Master of Divinity in 2020.
Perez was ordained in January 2022 with the support of Iglesia Cristiana de Deltona. He also serves as a chaplain for AdventHealth Orlando.
Stating that the DeLand church has been welcoming to his family and helpful in the transition, Pastor Perez described the congregation as “a loving community of faith with a strong desire to grow and serve the DeLand community.”
He believes the Disciples of Christ church is a place where everyday people can feel welcome and can know, experience, and share the amazing love and grace of Jesus Christ.
The Disciples of Christ denomination describes itself as a “Movement for Wholeness in a Fragmented World.” The church welcomes everyone without judgment, and all are invited to come to the table for Communion regardless of their membership or status in life.
Services are held at 10:45 a.m. Sundays, and the church has numerous activities throughout the week. Live and recorded services are available online through the church Facebook page. More information about First Christian Church of DeLand at 1401 W. New York Ave. is on the church’s website, www.fccofdeland.org, and you can find more information about the Disciples of Christ at www.disciples.org.
— McIntyre is a retired educator and a member of First Christian Church. He lives in DeLand.