Pastor Eddie Jusino reads from his devotional to open up a Farmington Area Interfaith Association meeting at the church in early January.

Pastor Eddie Jusino reads from his devotional to open up a Farmington Area Interfaith Association meeting at the church in early January.

Photo by Deb Jacques

Pastor celebrates one-year mark at Farmington Hills church, bridges community ties

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published January 18, 2018

FARMINGTON HILLS — On any given Sunday, you might find First Presbyterian Church of Farmington Pastor Eddie Jusino decked out in a bolo tie and a piercing in his left ear.

He doesn’t mind not looking like your traditional preacher — and he is OK keeping it that way.

Jusino — who is celebrating his one-year anniversary at the church — moved to Farmington Hills from Long Island, New York, with his wife, Pam, in November of 2016.

“It took us a couple of days to get here, and we began to settle — it has been quite a transition, of course,” Jusino said, adding that it’s been a change in rhythm of life. “So we’ve been kind of adjusting to it.”

He added that while he and his wife miss the multicultural aspect of New York and its cultural event offerings, they are happy to get acquainted with Michigan and its parks. 

“We are very fast falling in love with Michigan,” he said. “It is a beautiful state, and I think we are in a very beautiful space.”

Karen (Stewart) Spica, communications/office manager for the First Presbyterian Church, said that interim Pastor Keith Provost held the reigns from May to November 2016, just before Jusino took over. Before that, there were interim pastors following the official pastor’s retirement in 2014.

Congregant Deb Lum, who is on the church’s nominating committee, said that she and three fellow nominators narrowed the selection down by reading résumés “to see if we have a match or not.”

After the committee made a recommendation on who was the most qualified candidate, the congregation picked the next pastor. About 350 to 400 people are congregants; on any given Sunday, 150 people attend the weekly services.

The search began with 100 candidates and eventually was narrowed down to the final two candidates.

“Pastor Eddie (made the) top (of the list) all the way through,” Lum said, adding that he has a “heart for people.”

Spica said in an email that Jusino “hit the ground running,” and he brings energy and new ideas “to our congregation and the community.”  

Lum added that through a series of reviewing résumés, phone interviews, Skype and in-person interviews, “he stood out.”

Lum said that Jusino also has an ability to interpret the Bible, and he has a more diverse perspective of faith.

“(That is) reflective of our community at large … all genders, races, sexual orientations,” Lum said, adding that it is part of the DNA of the church’s ability to serve others.

Jusino, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is currently serving as the moderator of the Farmington Area Interfaith Association. He was recently in Puerto Rico on a special mission trip to check on his family (after two hurricanes), but also to deliver supplies collected at his church and from neighboring churches. 

Lum added that Jusino addresses social justice issues, economic issues and food servicing issues.

“Any way we can help (show) Christ’s love,” Lum said, adding that Jusino has embraced the calling of church outreach. “By being very involved in (an) interfaith association … we have great respect for new denominations. (It is a) natural extension of who Eddie is as a pastor and who we are.”

Neighborhood House President Alan Maxey said during a phone interview that his organization receives support from a number of local churches in the community, including First Presbyterian.

“First Presbyterian is, and has been, a very big supporter and a very good partner for Neighborhood House,” Maxey said, adding that Jusino is a compassionate person who has a lot of concern for those who are in need in the community.

“I think that is very obvious, and … he definitely thinks positively about Neighborhood House,” he said.

The Rev. Mary Elizabeth Biedro, of the Farmington Area Interfaith Association and senior minister at North Congregational Church, said that the roughly 20-year-old association originally started with a group of ministers who got together once a month for fellowship.

“As the community changed, so did the nature of the group,” Biedro said. “We should become intentionally interfaith and invite members of the Muslim community and other faiths, so not just Christian ministers.”

Biedro added that, with Jusino at the helm of the association, it is a good place for partnership “for the caring organizations of our community.”

Biedro said that Jusino was front and center in the association when he moved to the city, and it is one of his passions.

“His commitment is very great, right from the start. … I think it is a part of who he is,” she said, adding that he saw a need and he stepped right in and has done a good job. “(It is) more than just a gathering of people having lunch. …  (It is a) collaborative and promotive (group).”

Jusino said that the association has well over 30 houses of worship involved, along with local government and Farmington Public Schools officials.

“A great variety of houses of worship covering from Islamic, Christian, Jewish baha’i, Buddhist, Pentecostals — so we are delighted to have that mix, which really reflects the diversity … around here in Farmington-Farmington Hills,” Jusino said. “So we still are inviting folks to come at the table and join us, definitely.”

He said that the association’s intent is working with these local organizations to ensure there is a dialogue.

Jusino said that his wife has ties to Michigan because her father was a Ph.D. student and teacher assistant at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

“So she lived in Ann Arbor for eight years before he (her father) graduated and went back to Washington, D.C.,” Jusino said. “For her it is kind of coming home, so to speak.”

In his spare time, he and his wife visit parks and hike and walk.

“We are really in tune with the nature aspect here; we are enjoying it very much,” he said.