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  • July 11, 2014 - Reflections

    By Jean S. Horner
    The other day while walking down a corridor in a public building, I saw what appeared to be someone walking toward me. On coming closer, I found it was my own reflection in a huge mirror. For a moment it frightened me. Somehow a full-length reflection of one’s self is a startling thing. ...

Connections: Virginia Impellizerri

A Lifetime of Leadership

Virginia Impellizerri has been pastor of Full Gospel Assembly of God in Long Island, N.Y., for 60 years. She and her husband, Alfred, have made ministry a lifetime commitment, with no plans to retire anytime soon. Virginia recently spoke with Evangel Editorial Assistant Emily Tharp.

evangel: When were you first called to ministry?

IMPELLIZERRI: I was a teenager when I came to the Lord. From that point on, I committed to follow the Lord’s leading. I became a youth leader at church and passed out tracts in Times Square. Yet I always felt like God had just a little bit more for me to do. Around 1950, my mother spoke to a friend in Long Island, who said they were praying that God would send someone to them to reach young people. That’s when I felt the Holy Spirit directing me to move there from Brooklyn.

evangel: How was Full Gospel Assembly of God founded?

IMPELLIZERRI: When I moved to Long Island, we found a church building that had been vacant for several years and fixed it up. Then I went door to door inviting young people to come on Saturdays, where we would have fun activities for them to do. Soon parents wanted to come with their children, and that’s when the church really began to expand.

In 1952, the Lord directed us to start a church, and by 1955 we were fully functioning. Soon we began a building program because the church facilities needed to be redone. We also added a separate fellowship hall during that time.

evangel: What experiences stand out from your 60 years of ministry?

IMPELLIZERRI: I’ve been able to pray with families who had severe problems. As they opened up their hearts, we were able to help them with their issues. I’ve also been able to visit shut-ins and prisoners, and reach out to the community. Alfred, my husband of 65 years, has always been supportive in whatever God called me to do.

evangel: Were there any obstacles you had to overcome?

IMPELLIZERRI: The Lord has given me many victories. Things are different now, but at the start of my ministry not everyone would accept a female pastor. Sometimes groups of men would come to our services and stand against the walls or even next to me on the platform. They wanted to intimidate me and stop me from preaching. But we didn’t interact with them, and I just continued speaking. After a few of these experiences, the men stopped coming.

Then, around 1970, the enemy tried to destroy me in a severe car accident. A trailer detached from the vehicle in front of me, hit my car head on and crushed half my body. The doctors didn’t give me a lot of hope for recovery, but that was over 40 years ago and I’m still here.

evangel: What has 60 years of ministry in the same church taught you?

IMPELLIZERRI: We have to extend ourselves to others if we want to see them come to the Lord — especially those who have a lot of problems and don’t know how to resolve them. We should be able to direct them to the Lord and demonstrate our faith by praying together as a family, rather than criticizing one another.

evangel: What advice do you have for pastors who are just beginning their ministries?

IMPELLIZERRI: First, be sure that God has called you. He will give you the strength, courage and ability to help meet the needs of those who come to you. Most of all, remember to rely on the Lord. Trust God and love Him — not as a formality, but as a reality.


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