In a recent ceremony Monique K. Newkirk was installed as the new Pastor of the Pentecostal Holy Joy Church of the Lord in Modena.
Pastor Newkirk said, “this is the Church where I first saw the light, the Church I grew up in and got to know who Christ was in my life.”
The Church was founded in 1960 by her grandparents Bishop Bessie Emma Williamson-Newkirk and Elder Willie Lee Franklin-Newkirk.
Though Newkirk was a little surprised at being chosen to lead the Modena Church, she said she has always gravitated to positions of leadership over the years. She recalled directing the choir when she was young and after learning to drive she picked up kids to go to Church since her older cousins were away at college.
“It’s always been in my heart to bring people together,” she said.
Newkirk moved away from the area to attend the Berkeley College in White Plains, NY. During that time she joined a ministry, “and I was there under watchcare.” She later moved to Georgia, but again served the ministry. Returning home to New York, Newkirk became a minister to a church in Westchester County.
Newkirk’s decision in 2011 to direct the Pentecostal Holy Joy Church Boys Mime Ministry is what brought her home “to her roots” in Modena.
Newkirk reflected on this next chapter in her spiritual life as Pastor.
“It’s in my heart. I know it’s what I’m supposed to do. I have helped a lot of churches in New York and Georgia and I ended up coming back home,” she said.
Newkirk renewed her commitment to her hometown church after her cousin Precious Newkirk was tragically killed in a car accident in 2015.
“I realized that when I came to the funeral and helped as much as I could, I realized that my aunt needed ministerial help at the church, so I came back home,” she said.
Newkirk said doing the work of the Lord has always been in her heart.
“I had a burden in ministry to help people get closer to God, to feel happy about the ministry work that they do and I have always been a doer when I came to a Church; I’ve never been one to sit and watch,” she said. “I am always looking to see what can I do to be a benefit wherever I go, to be a help and not a hindrance.”
Newkirk pointed out that her installation on June 2 took place exactly one year after she received her Sacred Bachelor of Theology Degree from Savona V. Roberts Christian Education Academy in Poughkeepsie.
Newkirk said her long spiritual journey, “just did not stop. It brought me full circle; you’ll do all these things and go on these detours, which you think are detours, but were teaching grounds for where you’re going to end up...I’ve always been one to bloom wherever I was planted.”
Newkirk said besides finishing some needed work on the church structure, “I want to start equipping the people in the church to help them grow spiritually and walk into their purpose.”
Newkirk said the word Pentecostal comes from the Book of Acts, “when the people got on one accord,” and is a charismatic way of teaching the Gospel, “and understanding it from a Christian standpoint.”
Newkirk said singing is also a significant part of her Church services. She said her Church, “is like having a life coach to encourage you every week and you get a little bit of ‘Sister Act’ because you get some gospel music too. When I say ‘Sister Act’ people go, oh yes.”
Newkirk acknowledge the support that her parents, Leita and Bobray Newkirk, gave to her and her siblings.
“If it wasn’t for them bringing us to church and being committed themselves,” she said. “I don’t know how strong my commitment would be to the Church as it is now because of that. I want to make sure I tell my parents thank you for them being a great example to follow.”