Celebrating Hispanic American Heritage Month in the WNCC: Rev. Carlos Alberto Rodriguez

September 22, 2022

By: Jim Pyatt, WNCC Archivist & Historian

Rev. Carlos Alberto Rodriguez

The Rev. Carlos Alberto Rodriguez was born in Santiago de las Vegas, Cuba on September 17, 1915. As a youth, he joined Wesley Methodist Church in his hometown. A graduate of the University of Havana, Alberto taught business classes at the Central Methodist School in Havana and worked in the administrative department at La Rayonera as an executive secretary and as a translator. As the years passed, his involvement in the church grew, to the point where in the mid 1950s he became a local preacher in the Methodist Church in Cuba.

In 1959 the Rodriguez family attended a Family Life Conference at Lake Junaluska, following which he was invited to speak at Broad Street Methodist Church in Statesville after developing a friendship with several members of that congregation. After the Cuban government closed his church, the Rodriguez family immigrated to the United States on August 25, 1961. Less than a week later the family was being sponsored by the Broad Street congregation and living in Statesville.

On September 1, 1961, Alberto began work as a secretary at the WNC Conference Board of Missions Office in Statesville. During his year in this position he spoke in more than 80 churches. In reflecting about this experience, he stated, “I enjoyed visiting the churches. I found the people concerned. Their expressions of kindness, acceptance, and love were very rewarding. It made me realize that the spirit of the Methodist church is the same any place, regardless of nationality or language.” (2013 Journal, p. 296)

During that same year Alberto was licensed to preach and began attending Course of Study at Duke Divinity School. The Rev. Rodriguez then served the following appointments in the WNC Conference: Mount Airy Circuit (1962-66), Danbury (1966-69), Stoneville (1969-74), Avery Parish Associate (1974-77), Asbury Parish (1977-80), Benton Heights-Grace (Monroe)

(1980-January 1, 1981), Chapel Hill-Christ (Statesville) (January 1, 1981-1982). He was ordained Deacon in 1964 and ordained Elder in 1970. The Rev. Rodriguez was admitted into the WNC Conference as a Probationary Member in 1968, into Full Connection in 1970, and Retired in 1982.

Alberto Rodriguez and his wife Elisa became naturalized American citizens in December 1971. In their later years they lived at Givens Estates. Elisa Rodriguez died on July 9, 1998, and Alberto on August 6, 2012.

Be sure to read the other biographies written by WNCC Archivist & Historian Jim Pyatt:

Rev. Dr. Abraham Kim, the first Asian-American to be elected as a clergy delegate to Jurisdictional Conference from the WNC Conference.

Rev. Karen Miyoshi Kagiyama, the first Asian-American women to be ordained an Elder in the WNCC.

In Muk Kim, the first Asian-American to be elected as a delegate (clergy or lay) to Jurisdictional Conference from the WNC Conference.

Rev. M. B. Lee McCrary, the first woman to become a full clergy member of the Western North Carolina Conference. 

Rev. Dolores Barus Queen, the first woman to serve as District Superintendent in the Western NC Conference.

Bishop Charlene P. Kammerer, the first (and to date, the only) woman to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mrs. Jettie Morrison, a key figure in the Women's Society of Christian Service and the integration of The United Methodist Church in 1968.

Bishop L. Scott Allen (May 4, 1918-September 18, 2004), the first (and to date, the only) African-American to serve as Bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mrs. Effie Miller (September 17, 1930-September 1, 2008), a leader in the Western North Carolina Conference and the United Methodist Church, especially with regard to the United Methodist Women.

The Rev. Dr. J. C. Peters (July 10, 1925- July 2, 1998)the first African-American to serve as a District Superintendent in the Western North Carolina Conference.

Mr. Clarence Winchester,  a leader in the North Carolina Conference (Central Jurisdiction) and in the WNC Conference.

Dr. Isaac Miller (September 26, 1920-November 1, 2008), a leader in Higher Education and in the United Methodist Church.

#BeUMC Personal Reflections