By Olga Acosta
Affectionately known as Pastor Willie, the Rev. Guillermina Gongon González is a faithful woman of God, a loving mother, and an accomplished leader in ministry.
She has ministered not only here in the U.S., but in the nations of Guatemala, Venezuela, Peru and Kenya. Her dedication to family, the church and the ministry is unmatched.
Pastor Willie Gonzalez, and her husband, the late Bishop Raul Gonzalez, founded Glory Chapel International Cathedral (GCIC) in 1979. The church was established to provide a place where the graduates of Youth Challenge and their families could be spiritually fed, become part of a church family, regain their dignity, and rebuild their place in society.
The church originally met in a small chapel located at 19 May St. in Hartford forming the house of worship that Bishop and Pastor Willie envisioned – a place that would be for all people of different ethnicity, background, and social standing. By 1991, the church had outgrown this facility and it began to hold services at 221 Greenfield St.; six years later GCIC purchased the building and still meets there today.
The ministry of Glory Chapel International Cathedral has continued to expand across the country and globe to places as near as Central Village and as far as Wildwood, Fla.; Puerto Rico; the Dominican Republic; Guatemala; Costa Rica; Venezuela; Peru and Kenya.
Pastor Willie married the late Bishop Raúl González in 1967. She is the mother of four: Col. Raúl E. González, U.S. Army; Yvette Hopping; Rev. Esther González-Torres and Braulio González; and grandmother of four: Jade González; Jason Ricardo, Daniel Raúl and Ray David Hopping.
Pastor Willie came to Hartford in 1971 with Bishop González in the early days of Youth Challenge, a program to help men and women struggling with drug addiction and other life controlling problems. She is a graduate of the Corinthian School of Urban Ministry with a Bachelor of Biblical Studies degree. In addition, she is an Ordained Minister with Youth Challenge International.
She supported and worked with her husband since the early days of their ministry until he passed on to glory in July 2009. She then stepped into the role of Senior Pastor of GCIC. She is indeed a living testimony that with God all things are possible.
Pastor Willie has ministered extensively to families, women and children. She has been involved in church educational programs, neighborhood children’s outreach, and prayer ministries. She has also been a part of Christ-centered substance abuse support services including culinary and administrative functions.
Under the leadership of Pastor Willie, Glory Chapel strives to stay true to its mission to help those in need by providing outreach and care for all people. GCIC does this through its food pantry, prison ministry and street evangelism. The church develops leaders, young and old, through children’s and youth programs and the Corinthian School of Urban Ministry.
(Editor’s note: Olga Acosta, a teacher in Farmington, is a member of Glory Chapel International Cathedral. Do you know somebody who is Taking the Lead among CT Latinos? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll consider them for a future profile.)
By Olga Acosta