New pastor sees great potential

Photo Courtesy of The Rev. Anthony Giordano
The Rev. Anthony Giordano, the new pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church, with his wife, Edna. The couple married earlier this year.

St. John’s Lutheran Church has a new pastor.

The Rev. Anthony Giordano celebrated his first Mass there on Feb. 11. He is also the pastor at the Calvary Lutheran Church, in Verona. In an interview with The Independent Press, he said community outreach is a key to the Bloomfield church’s survival.

Giordano, 52, grew up in Westbury on Long Island. His mother was a homemaker and his father, a commercial food salesman. Giordano was an only child.
He attended Catholic grade schools and was an undergraduate at Hofstra University and attended seminary at Liberty University in Virginia.

“Having been raised a Roman Catholic, I felt a calling to be a priest in third grade,” he said. “But I also wanted to get married and have kids. So I put the calling away and tried to run away from it.”

He shelved it for some time. When he was 38, a friend’s encouragement finally prompted him to enter the seminary. Giordano was then married with four children. While in the seminary, he divorced.

“I felt, who wants a divorced pastor?” he said. “I got the degree and gave up hope.”

But Lutheran Bishop Derik Lecakes, of Long Island, encouraged him to apply for ordination.

“He worked out a plan for me to be ordained,” Giordano continued. “I was ordained in 2019, at the age of 48.”

Giordano said he left the Catholic Church when he was 22 and spent the next 18 years as an Episcopalian. For the last 15 years, he has been a Lutheran. He considered his
religious travels as an asset.

“I come with a fresh set of eyes and speak the language of other denominations,” he said. “It might seem strange to some people, but it’s a wonderful gift to me.”
Job-wise, Giordano also said he was a “second career” pastor.

“I’ve been around a bit,” he said. “I was 15 years in the health industry, first at United Cerebral Palsy, for five years, and then Winthrop Hospital, in Mineola, for 10 years. I did administrative work.”

Winthrop Hospital is now called NYU Langone Hospital.

After being ordained, Giordano served at the Calvary Lutheran Church, in Mineola, Long Island. He was there for three and one-half years. He then worked for two years at the Mill Neck Family of Organizations in Mill Neck, Long Island. This is a school serving the hearing impaired. Giordano was its campus pastor. In September 2023, he was laid off.

“I was looking and hoping and praying for a church,” he said. “Then the bishop of the Atlantic district, Bishop Dien Taylor, heard about me and circulated my name. I was very grateful. He put my name out there.”

Both St. John’s and Calvary offered him jobs and he accepted both. The two churches are very different, he said. For one thing, the stade Bloomfield church attracts far fewer worshippers to Mass while the Verona church plays upbeat music provided by a “worship team” singing songs with Giordano, who played in a band, on percussion.
“St. John’s is more traditional,” he said. “They would prefer organ music. It’s a small, older congregation. The building is aging, too. It’s a difficult combination to overcome. There’s also less money with less people. We need to sit down, as a group, and see what we can do.”

In an effort to revitalize both churches, Giordano said he purchased a book he wanted every church leader to read: “Autopsy for a Deceased Church,” by Thom Rainer.

“My plan is to have a joint meeting with the two churches and have a discussion for internal fixes and how to have an outreach for our communities.”

There are several factors, he said, that prevent any church from having an outreach program. Both inflict St. John’s: few people and few dollars.

“What can we do if we invited people in and what can we do if we went out”? Giordano asked.

He said there was potential if both churches worked together.

“That means getting people to think differently and work with a different church,” he said.”It’s not an easy gap to bridge. I’m just getting my feet wet, but both churches need an outward focus.”

With his work cut out for him, Giordano remarried earlier this year.

St. John’s Lutheran Church is located at 216 Liberty St. in Bloomfield.