Roberto Miranda, Pastor of Prominent Pentecostal Church, Has Died

By Bob Smietana
Roberto Miranda
Senior Pastor Roberto Miranda speaks during the youth ministry service at Congregación León de Judá, on March 22, 2019, in Boston. (Source: RNS photo by Christine Hochkeppel)

A prominent Boston Hispanic Pentecostal pastor, known for his church’s social programs and conservative teaching, has died, according to his church.

Pastor Robert Miranda’s death was announced Sunday during services at Congregation Lion of Judah in Boston, which was streamed online.

“So many of those of you who are joining us watching this and hearing this for the very first time, we’re just simply letting them know that our senior pastor, beloved of all of us, Roberto Miranda, has graduated,” said Brandt Gillespie, who was leading the service at Lion of Judah.

“He has gone. He is in the presence of the Lord.”

The announcement came after the congregation at Lion of Judah, a bi-lingual church also known as Congregación Leon de Judá, sang “It Is Well With My Soul,” a popular hymn with lyrics written by Horatio Spafford in the 1870s, after his children died in a shipwreck. The story of the song’s writing had been told during a sermon at the church the previous week.

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Gillespie led the congregation in singing a refrain of the hymn and told them it was alright to grieve their beloved pastor.

“It’s going to take a long journey to come to grips with this,” said Gillespie.

Miranda, who was born in 1955, became pastor of what was a modest Hispanic congregation of about 60 people after earning a doctorate from Harvard. He had hoped to become a professor of Romance languages but gave up his dreams of teaching for the pastorate.

Under his leadership, Lion of Judah grew to a congregation of about 1,000 people, which draws people from 30 countries. The congregation runs social programs to minister to immigrants, serve the poor and help people overcome “anything that prevents people from becoming what God intended them to be,” Miranda said in 2019.

He also did not shy away from addressing hot button issues from the pulpit, including his support for pro-immigration policies and his opposition to same-sex marriage. 

“People felt that I had a kind of suicide complex,” he told news media in 2019. “To undertake these issues from the pulpit was kind of dangerous, inflammatory and provoking … But I felt in my heart that I needed for people to know how I thought and how I felt about certain issues.”

Miranda was born in the Dominican Republic and immigrated to the US as a child to join his father. Academically gifted, he graduated from Phillips Academy, a prominent prep school whose alumni include presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and later attended Princeton and Harvard.  

“He is out of the demographic of most Pentecostal pastors,” Arlene Sanchez-Walsh, an expert on Latino Pentecostalism at Azusa Pacific University in Los Angeles, told media in 2019. “The majority are either self-taught or come from Bible colleges and evangelical seminaries.”

Miranda was also known for believing that much of his work involved spiritual warfare.

“I have delivered people from demonic powers right where you are sitting,” he once told a reporter who was sitting on a couch in his office. “I have engaged in exorcisms over the years many, many times.”

Even after three decades of ministry, Miranda was still looking forward to the future.

“I see myself as a soldier, put in a lonely outpost, fulfilling an order and awaiting the next move,” Miranda said in 2019. “I’m not sure what it is. But I know it’s out there.”

Bob SmietanaBob Smietana is a national reporter for Religion News Service.

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1 thought on “Roberto Miranda, Pastor of Prominent Pentecostal Church, Has Died”

  1. Darren Cooper

    What an outstanding bold pastor & servant of King Jesus. May his tribe increase & may we hear of other relatively unknown men & women of God, especially while they are alive on planet earth. More of these stories, please!

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