Latina pastor to lead Eastern PA’s Latino Ministries

The Rev. Lillian “Luky” Cotto is the Eastern PA Conference’s new part-time Latino Ministries Coordinator, effective August 1. She succeeds the Rev. Brunilda Martinez, who had served in that role since mid-2017. A longtime member of Eastern PA’s Latino Commission, Cotto will now work with the commission in a Connectional Ministries staff role to help develop its ministries and relationships with Latino clergy and laity and other conference programs.

Cotto is a local pastor, a missionary with the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry and the founder of Casa del Pueblo, a busy Hispanic congregation and outreach ministry at Lehman Memorial UMC in Hatboro, Pa.  She launched Casa del Pueblo 11 years ago, after planting five house churches in neighbors’ homes and securing aid from Lehman Memorial, the conference, family, friends and other supporters. 

A native of Guatemala, the Global Ministries missionary is assigned to our conference and appointed to Lehman Memorial’s pastoral staff. Casa del Pueblo’s congregation worships at Lehman Memorial but also has planted a faith community for Sunday afternoon worship and Christian education in Spanish at St. Paul UMC in Warrington, about 6 miles away. 

Cotto has helped train a small cadre of lay ministers to provide leadership for Casa del Pueblo at Lehman, in Warrington and among other groups that gather weekly in surrounding communities where Latino populations are fast-growing.  She is a resourceful and entrepreneurial networker and church planter. 

Casa del Pueblo also provides immigrants with interpretive services and much-needed, affordable psychological counseling and legal assistance offered by therapeutic and legal professionals, thanks to partnerships Cotto has formed. She advocates regularly for justice and mercy for undocumented immigrants in her area and formerly co-chaired the conference’s Immigration Rapid Response Network, part of a national network of immigration advocates. 

In addition, Casa del Pueblo operates Anawim, a school of music and dance where dozens of children and youth learn to play musical instruments and perform liturgical and Latino folkloric dances. They often play for worship services and perform in special programs.  The school has helped many students improve their academic performance in school and has increased families’ participation in the church.

Cotto is the wife and ministry partner of the Rev. Irving Cotto, pastor of St. Paul UMC Warrington, and former North District Superintendent. They have three adult sons.