Bishop Peggy Johnson announced the appointment of the Rev. Dr. Irving Cotto as the District Superintendent for the Northeast District of the Eastern PA Conference effective July 1, 2012. He will succeed the Rev. Bronwyn Yocum, who will be appointed to Grove UMC in West Chester, PA.
The Reverend Dr. Irving Cotto was born in New York City on the 4th of September 1954. He is the third of four children. Following his ordination as an elder in 1980 he continued to serve as pastor at Emanuel Church, a Latino congregation he planted in 1977. Later in 1983 he was appointed to serve at El Redentor Church in the city of Lancaster, Pennsylvania. There he served for sixteen years.
From 1999-2008 he was the Senior Pastor at Asbury United Methodist Church in the city of Camden, New Jersey and transferred into the Greater New Jersey Annual Conference under the Episcopal leadership of Bishop Sudarshana Devadhar.
At Asbury UMC he served as the Senior Pastor of a multiple staff ministry involving an Associate Pastor, a GBGM 10-10-10- Missionary, and a Music Director. This parish is a multicultural congregation consisting of two main fellowships, speaking English and Spanish, representing at least 25 countries.
Under the initiative of Bishop Marcus Matthews from the Eastern Pennsylvania Conference, Dr. Cotto was invited and appointed in 2008 to serve as Director of Congregational Development, with the primary responsibility of initiating new churches and faith communities. As part of his portfolio he is also director of Latino ministries. He is presently serving in this position as program staff of the Eastern PA Conference.
Dr. Cotto graduated with a degree in Psychology (B.A.) from Bayamon Central University, Bayamon, Puerto Rico. He earned a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) from Union Seminary and a Doctor of Ministry (D.Min) from Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary. In addition, he obtained a second Master Degree in Pastoral Care and Counseling (M.S.) from Neumann University, a Franciscan institution in Aston, Pennsylvania. He is presently completing a Ph.D. in Theology through the Graduate Theological Foundation (GTF) in Indiana and the Instituto Teológico Internacional de Puerto Rico (ITIPRI). He is writing his dissertation in the area of Liturgy and Pastoral Care.
He has served on the Board of Ordained Ministry in both the Eastern Pennsylvania and the Greater New Jersey Annual Conferences and was a member of the Peace and Justice Coalition in Lancaster, the Board of Advisers for the Salvation Army, and many other community efforts aimed at bringing change and transformation to the city.
For many years, Dr. Cotto has served in a variety of capacities as a volunteer and as an independent contractor with a number of denominational agencies. He has facilitated many training modules for Lay Missioners, and has both written and implemented workshops on Liturgy and Worship as part of the National Plan for Hispanic Ministries. For ten years he was a volunteer Summer Camp Director with youth and children at Camps Innabah and Gretna Glen. He has also been an instructor for many years in the Course of Study School at Perkins School of Theology in Dallas, Texas and Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston and Naperville, Illinois.
As a youth Dr. Cotto studied music with a private piano teacher and at the Institute for Puerto Rican Culture in San Juan, Puerto Rico under a renowned musician, Dr. Francisco Lopez Cruz. An accomplished musician he has composed hymns and leads worship events throughout the country.
Dr. Cotto is a member of the Order of Saint Luke and is founding Prior of the Spanish language Pennsylvania and New Jersey Chapter (PA-NJ). He is also a founding member of the American Association of Christian Counselors, a member of the American Counseling Association, the National Association of United Methodist Evangelists and the Society of Pastoral Theology. His interests include music, reading, movies, liturgical studies, and traveling. He is married to the Lilian Lucrecia de Paz, a Local Pastor and church planter, presently serving at Lehman UMC in Hatboro, PA. They have three grown children: Julio, Andres, and Alejandro.