The Reverend Dr. Luis León, fourteenth Rector of St. John’s Church, began his tenure in 1994. His specialty is building inner city parishes through spiritual leadership, preaching, excellence in worship and liturgical music, stewardship and outreach that involves parish members in the community. Luis teaches courses nationwide in parish building and stewardship and is a frequently requested commencement speaker.
Before his time at St. John’s, Luis served as Rector of Trinity Church in Wilmington, Delaware, and St. Paul’s Church in Paterson, New Jersey. St. Paul’s, an urban parish, grew during his tenure from 35 parishioners to several hundred. In 1985 St. Paul’s was named “Church of the Year” by the New Jersey Council of Churches, and in 1986 Luis was awarded the Bishop’s Outstanding Service Award in recognition of the “extraordinary contributions made to the life, quality, and the spirit of the church in this diocese [Newark].”
From 1977 until 1980, Luis served as Assistant Rector at St. Peter’s Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He then became Director of Refugee Resettlement for the Diocese of Maryland for two years.
Luis began his spiritual journey when he was baptized into the Episcopal Church in Guantánamo, Cuba. In 1961 he came to the United States as part of the “Peter Pan” flights out of Cuba, joining thousands of children whose parents, at that time in history, feared for their future in Cuba. He was 12 years old when he arrived in the U.S., and was supported by the Episcopal Church in Miami.
Luis attended the University of the South (Sewanee), graduating in 1971. He received a Masters in Divinity degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1977 and in 1999 was awarded an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from the University of the South. He is a member of the Board of Regents at the University of the South and was a founding member of both the Washington Interfaith Network and the Wilmington [Delaware] Interfaith Network. In 2005 and in 2013 he offered the invocation at the inauguration of the President of the United States.