Meet Vicar Dave at Middle Island

Meet Vicar Dave at Middle Island

Every person’s story is unique, and Vicar Dave’s story is no exception: Born in the Bronx, David Santos is the only son in a family of seven. His dad was Roman Catholic and his mother was Jewish. David was raised Jewish and attended Hebrew school in his youth.

Every person’s story is unique, and Vicar Dave’s story is no exception.

Born in the Bronx, David Santos is the only son in a family of seven. His dad was Roman Catholic and his mother was Jewish. David was raised Jewish and attended Hebrew school in his youth.

As love would have it, David met his future bride, Jennifer, who was a faith-filled member of Grace Lutheran Church in Mastic Beach. In order to “win over” Jenn, David began attending church services with her. Week after week Dave would hear the Word, and his faith began to grow.

David struggled trying to reconcile his Jewish belief with his growing Christian faith. When I asked him to share, Dave responded, “I can tell you that God is loving and merciful. He alone is judge. I am comforted by the words of Psalm 53:6: Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion! When God restores his people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad! My earnest hope is that my family will realize and accept what I have now come to know.”

David Santos became a member of Grace Lutheran Church in January 1996. Jumping in with both feet, David began serving wherever needed, but still he yearned for more. That’s when David enrolled in the LCMS Diaconate program.

A few years after the completion of his studies, David’s life came to a dim crossroad. He found himself having to close his bicycle shop and was looking for something solid for his family and his future. That’s when Bishop Lecakes asked him a simple question, “So what are you doing these days?”

This simple question led to a discussion and then the offering of an opportunity that only God could have orchestrated. The Bishop explained that Holy Trinity Lutheran Church — also known as the “warm church in the pines” — had an opening for a Vicar and wanted to know if David would be interested in being considered for this position.

After much prayer, discussion with his family, and meetings with the membership of Holy Trinity, Vicar David Santos was installed at Holy Trinity Lutheran Church in Middle Island.

Holy Trinity member, Ginny Wirsing, shares, “David has so much energy, enthusiasm, and a much needed vision for Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (HTLC). In the short time that he has been with us, we have already seen an increase in participation in different areas and in church attendance.”

One of the projects Vicar Dave has been spearheading along with HTLC members is the renovation of their outdoor chapel. Beginning with a donation of a beautifully designed, large wooden cross and then moving on to the building of new, more comfortable benches, this outside worship area will be soon be completed. Plans are being made for a live nativity project and a stone tomb to be constructed to bring the celebration of Easter to life.

Another church member added, “One minute he is outside digging holes for our new outdoor chapel and the next he's counseling a fellow congregant on their present needs and concerns in their life. The Lord has groomed him and trained him, with all of his previous jobs, to be the best fit for our church.“

Sunday and mid-week hybrid (in-person and virtual) church services are held, along with Bible studies, Confirmation instruction, and Sunday School classes.

“He heads our Bible study classes and has introduced us to reading the Bible in a Year. It is a huge commitment and none of us could have done it without his loving support and weekly encouragement. His study discussions are challenging as well as educational, bringing all of us closer to His Word,” said Kathy Montalbano.

Vicar Santos is planning to contact local churches, encouraging them to schedule their Vacation Bible School programs consecutively to reduce conflicting dates. This will allow children to have more opportunities to learn about Jesus Christ.

Vicar Dave expressed his desire is to continue to grow, adding that he is a small part of something much bigger than himself — that he is connected to something even bigger than that. He wants to help connect people to Jesus Christ and then to one another, all the while remembering that he is doing this for God, not for his own glory.

Kathy Montalbano said, “I know our time with Vicar Dave has been short-lived, but our experiences with him will last a lifetime. He keeps telling us how blessed he is to have the opportunity to someday be the pastor of our congregation, but WE are the blessed ones.“

Vicar Dave’s wife, Jenn Santos, adds, “I have seen David struggle to find his ‘calling’ in life. I truly believe that he has found the ‘shoe that fits’ now. He was born to do this.”

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