The Rev. Humberto Chavez, of the Bridge Church in Malverne, said he enjoys watching people advance in their lives and careers. A member of The Bridge Church for the past eight years who led the Spanish ministry, Chavez was installed as its new pastor on June 19. It was a humbling moment to be recognized for his own progress, he said.
“I love to see people go from glory to glory,” Chavez, 44, said. “At the same time, I love to help and walk alongside them. Playing the role as the lead shepherd, it’s been my calling for years. That’s what I’ve been working towards, and it’s all been spirit-driven, which brings peace to my heart.”
Born in Mexico City, Chavez immigrated to New York from Mexico with his family in the late 1980s. He graduated from Mineola High School in 1995, and in 1998 he earned a bachelor’s degree from the NYC Carpenters Training Center. Shortly afterward, he focused on theological studies at New York Theological Seminary and the Palmer Institute. He is also a certified state chaplain and a First Response Victim Relief Chaplain for Homeland Security.
“My previous roles have helped me a lot to be able to walk into this position strong,” Chavez, of Franklin Square, said. “But above all that, the vision that God has given me has been brewing up to this point.”
He took up the ministry full-time in 2003, serving as chaplain of the New York Racing Association for 17 years — fulfilling assigned ministry and program responsibilities in the state’s horse racing industry at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga racetracks. He also served as the national chaplain’s representative on the National Race Track Chaplaincy executive board for four years. In 2013 he was recognized for his assistance and encouragement of the Saratoga community by SOS, an organization that helps the homeless there.
In 2015, Chavez was named the Hispanic Community Advocate of the Year by the Nassau County Legislature. He also earned the Equi-Star Award in 2017 from the New York Horseman’s Association, which honors an individual who has enriched the New York thoroughbred industry through compassion, hard work and generosity. Last year, Chavez and the race chaplaincy were honored by the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association with the 2020 Service Award for making exceptional contributions to the thoroughbred industry during the coronavirus pandemic.
“We couldn’t be more excited for you all,” Chavez’s predecessor at The Bridge Church, the Rev. Dan Quagliata, told the congregation in a Facebook post. “Blessings as you walk forward.”
Community outreach has long been a passion of Chavez’s, which he hopes to continue in his new post. “We’ve partnered with great organizations such as Youth for Christ in February,” he said, “and we’ll continue that partnership just to make sure every single student in high school has the ability to go [to] a place where they can continue to grow their faith.”
In March, Chavez and the church launched a partnership with Pakistan with the hope of providing educational opportunities for children. “In most of those regions, kids don’t go to school,” he said.
Locally, The Bridge Church is planning to host Five Nights of Summer for five Wednesdays starting on July 14, which will feature free arts and crafts activities for children along with movies. In April, the church established a partnership with the Malverne Chamber of Commerce.
“We’re looking to really make sure that people know we’re here for them,” Chavez said.
Humberto and his wife, Karen, have three sons, David, Jonathan and Lukas, and he said he enjoys visiting restaurants around the South Shore in his downtime. “We know that small businesses have been hurt during this pandemic,” he said. “If we can feed ourselves while supporting a cause, then why not? We have a list with more than 100 restaurants, and we’re [working on] that list to make sure we hit each restaurant.”