By Sandi Huddleston-Edwards

HUNTERSVILLE – “Fun won’t come to you, so go to the fun,” Reverend Everdith Landrau said.

“Pastor Evie,” of Huntersville’s New Friendship Presbyterian Church, is a self-proclaimed “God chaser” and licensed Zumba instructor. Landrau’s female ministry and self-care mentors are examples of living balanced spiritual, emotional and physical lives.

“I go to the gym, take Latin dance classes, enjoy time with my boyfriend, design jewelry and, yes, wear a bikini on the beach,” she said. “Being social helps open doors to ministry opportunities by meeting new people.”

Born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, the African-Latino dynamo left her family to live with her godmother in Harlem, N.Y., eventually fulfilling her educational dreams: a bachelor’s degree from American International College in Massachusetts a master’s from Duke Divinity School.

“Understanding diversity, culture and violence is my ‘city girl’ gift to this community. I’ve learned you can either kill one another or work it out,” she said. “Our community can create differences in others’ lives by fully engaging, transforming and healing.”

Acknowledging the expanding gap of individuals ages 20-40 who leave mainline denominational churches amidst issues of sexuality, marriage and generational gaps, she is resolute that her vision of community connectivity can occur through trans-generational healing.

At 93, church member Maw Emma enjoys accompanying Landrau on visitations.

“We have fun, enjoying each other’s company by not reinventing the wheel but by teaching others to connect so that those of 81 can communicate with those of 21– focusing on each generation’s similarities and differences,” Maw Emma said. “Similarities are where our strengths lie.”

But with a background in communications and sociology, Landrau, 28, admits she has experienced difficulties relating to her sister, 18, who confides openly with her.

But Pastor Evie laughs.

“I still can’t understand her text messages. What has technology done to this generation?”

Needing better healthcare, her father moved to the U.S. in 2009. But before his death seven months ago to HIV/AIDS, he lived an inspirational and exemplary life of persistence and faith.

She is now an advocate of abstinence, education, safe sex, getting tested and breaking down prejudicial barriers that prevent HIV/AIDS patients from receiving love, respect and support.

“Even through his suffering, he thrived till the day he died, learning English and pursuing an education – a true example of transformation through his relationship with Jesus Christ,” she said.

“I’m blessed to be at NFPC, a living, vibrant church that practices spirituality and faith. NFPC will continue its legacy for future generations and the community as a testimony of its faith and from standing on the shoulders of history, the many who embraced ‘once reformed, always reformed.’ While some churches seem comfortable being segregated, that’s not experiencing the gospel’s fullness.

“We’re all God’s people, no longer just Jews and Greeks, and created to love and be loved. Once we accept the gospel, we connect. Then we can share our differences as unique individuals and become God chasers together,  and have fun doing it.”

Want to know more?

To learn more about New Friendship Presbyterian Church’s Zumba classes, Angels & Sparrows Soup Kitchen, summer day camp for kindergarten-eighth grade or worship service hours, call 704-584-9088 or visit www.new-friendship-huntersville.org.