|"Pastor to the President"
Luis Leon was an outstanding track and cross country runner at Berry Academy and his senior year
of 1967 he received the coveted "Athlete of the Year" award which honored the most outstanding
athlete at the school, regardless of sport.
Luis was born in Cuba and he and his sister became what was known as Peter Pan children, kids who
fled Cuba in the early 1960s without their parents. Luis was only twelve years old when he and his
sister arrived in Miami in 1961. He was supported by the Episcopal Church once he arrived in the
states and he came to Berry in 1963.
Today, Luis is the retired Rector of St. John's Church in Washington, DC. St. John's Church,
established in 1815, stands opposite the White House on the north side of Lafayette Square, once
known as Federal or President's Square. The parish was organized to serve as a church for
occupants of the White House and their families. James Madison, in office in 1815, was a
communicant. Every Chief Executive since has attended regular or occasional services. Hence, St.
John's has become known as the "Church of the Presidents." Pew 54 is the traditional President's
Pew. There is a 1789 Prayer Book in the Church's archives bearing in gold letters the inscription
"President's Pew." Luis gave the invocation at President George Bush's second term inauguration on
January 20, 2005.
The Reverend Dr. Luis Leon, fourteenth Rector of St. John's Church, began his ministry at St. John's
in 1995. He has specialized in 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.
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
thirty-five parishioners to several hundred. In 1985 St. Paul's was named "Church of the Year" by the
New Jersey Council of Churches. From 1977 until 1980, he served as Assistant Rector at St. Peter's
Church in Charlotte, North Carolina. He then was Director of Refugee Resettlement for the Diocese of
Maryland for two years.
Luis attended The University of the South, graduating in 1971. He received a Masters in Divinity
degree from the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1977. Luis' life exemplifies the Berry motto, "Not to
be ministered unto, but to minister".