The Rev. Danny Morales will stand with the Rev. Dr. Marian McClure Taylor for Co-Moderator of the 226th General Assembly

Morales is a hospice chaplain and pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Liberty City, Florida.

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The Rev. Danny Morales, a hospice chaplain and the pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian Church in Liberty City, Florida, will stand alongside the Rev. Dr. Marian McClure Taylor as Co-Moderator candidates for the 226th General Assembly.

Last month, the Rev. CeCe Armstrong and the Rev. Tony Larson announced they will also stand for Co-Moderators. Charleston-Atlantic Presbytery and the Presbytery of New Harmony are set meet in a joint session online Wednesday to vote on endorsing the two South Carolina pastors.

“As a bi-cultural (Cuban and American) gay man, my sense of God’s call to serve and lead a congregation came out of my conviction of God’s faithful and unconditional love towards me,” Morales wrote in a letter announcing his candidacy. “When others said I was not a good moral fit to ever stand behind a pulpit, let alone lead, my conviction to the saving grace of Christ would not allow me to be deterred by another person’s opinion of me. Instead, I was determined more than ever to answer that tug in my heart.”

“What would Pops tell me if he could speak to me? (Dad has been gone now for nine years),” Morales said. “The answer was obvious — whatever you are capable of doing, do with all your might,” Morales wrote, citing an exhortation from Ecclesiastes.

Just before he died, the elder Morales said, “You know, son, God’s not done with you yet. The work God started in you when you were born, that work is still in progress. God has surprises for you. Just make yourself available and the good Lord will take you where you are needed.”

Morales recalled that when he responded to the constitutional questions during his ordination, “deep within me I always felt that my calling would not be just to serve the local church, but to our larger community. When I had to sit with this calling in prayer for a bit, hold conversations with my husband and a few mentors and, yes, even consult with momma, I always knew that I would respond, ‘Here I am. Send me.’”

Morales connected with McClure Taylor through the Rev. Dr. Laurie Kraus, now a member of the national church staff but before that the pastor of Riviera Presbyterian Church in Miami, where Morales was a member.

“My connection with Marian was instant from the start. We both share a passion for music,” he said. “For me, as a former church pianist (who still plays on occasions) and also married to a former symphony orchestra performer, music is near and dear to my heart. Marian and I also connected on issues we face as a denomination, and as the church universal.”

Gifts Morales brings to being a Co-Moderator, should the two be elected, included “the depth of knowledge and experience of being a bi-vocational pastor serving as a parttime parish minister while serving fulltime as a hospice chaplain. That said, we both bring to the table different experiences in the life of the church, with a desire to speak to those in similar positions as both advocates and ambassadors for the work we are doing.”

A first-generation Cuban immigrant and former banker, “I also bring a blend of cultural insights that I believe would serve me particularly well in this role throughout our denomination and globally. It is also a gift that would enable me to connect with Latino congregations throughout the country, and with our global partners in Central and South America.”

“I would also be coming into this position as the first married gay co-moderator to stand for election,” he said. “I would be doing so with great humility, with the understanding that I would have made it here because of the arduous work of the giants who have come before us.”

Through “tenacity and persistence, New Covenant is well on its way to becoming a thriving congregation once again, when others thought otherwise,” he said. “I’ve worked up to three jobs simultaneously. My story is not unique. Like me, there are many congregations and pastors in similar predicaments. My experience gives firsthand experience with which to engage both pastors and congregations. I have learned humility, patience and understanding on my journey.”

In all his varied roles, including banker, minister, hospice chaplain and wedding pastor, Morales said he’s learned “what an amazing and incredible gift is the gift of presence, the gift of time, and the gift of love.”

“As God calls us to serve in opportunities such as this, I am mindful of the fact that so much of our work involves walking and being present with people from different backgrounds, people who find themselves in different stages of life and understanding of faith,” Morales said.

“Marian and I want to walk hand in hand with everyone who is on our journey,” he said. “Personally, I would like to lift the challenges and struggles faced by our small congregations, while helping larger congregations to thrive even more. There are pastors and other church leaders who are wrestling through struggles and challenges of their own, while serving the needs of their congregations. Their voices must be lifted. Together, as the children of God, we can find ways to support one another and move forward.”

Now is not the time for the church to sit on the sidelines, he said.

“God is calling the church to be bold, unwavering and unequivocal in our allegiance to God, ‘unmasking idolatries,’ as the Brief Statement of Faith puts it, including the idolatry of nationalism. If we are silent in the face of evil, we fail in our mission.”

“Make no mistake, this is our Barmen Declaration moment,” he said. “How we rise and respond to this moment will determine the future of our denomination and the church universal. Together, we will rise so that we will have love, justice and peace in our world.”

The election for Co-Moderators of the 226th General Assembly is set for 8 p.m. Mountain Time on Sunday, June 30, in Salt Lake City, Utah. The election can also be viewed online.

By Mike Ferguson, Presbyterian News Service – April 16, 2024