The Rev. Altagracia Perez was born in Manhattan but raised in the Bronx. Her mother is Puerto Rican and her father from the Dominican Republic. Both parents came from an agriculture background; her mother’s family were farmers and her father’s family once owned sugar cane lands. Her parents divorced early on and when she was five she moved to the Bronx with her mother. Both her mother and father have children with other partners/spouses so that she would come to have eleven half-siblings! With her mother as a single parent, it was often difficult to eke out a living and the family lived on welfare for most of her early childhood. While she was in junior high school, her mother also returned to school and became a medical assistant.
After graduating from Walton High School, Altagracia attended New York University and got her Bachelor of Science in Educational Psychology. While she prepared to teach as a special education teacher, she was a freelance American Sign Language interpreter. She was also involved with the Higher Educational Opportunity Program student council.
At Union Theological Seminary she received her Master of Divinity and Master of Sacred Theology degrees. Her first master’s thesis focused on the history of the Episcopal Church in Puerto Rico. Learning of the church’s history of activism and work on behalf of the poor and the oppressed in Puerto Rico, confirmed her decision to join the Episcopal Church. It also brought together her love of liturgy from her Roman Catholic childhood and her call to ministry received while an American Baptist during her teenaged years. While at Union, Altagracia discovered other gay and lesbian Christians preparing for ministry and that it was acceptable to be both gay and Christian. Both her Catholic and Baptist background had made this seem impossible, and finding the Episcopal church gave her hopes of serving God and the people with honest integrity.
Altagracia has brought leadership to the issues of HIV/AIDS, youth violence, worker justice and living wage, health disparities in communities of color, housing and community empowerment. In each of these areas she has sought to build bridges and create alliances between communities across lines of difference, whether they be characterized by race, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, or physical and mental abilities. She worked with Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), Jubilee Consortium, Coalition L.A., UNITE-HERE, Housing Authority for the City of Los Angeles, and President Clinton’s Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS. In the Church, she has served as a deputy to the General Convention, on the Program, Budget and Finance Committee, as CREDO faculty, as well as on Diocesan Standing Committee, and other Diocesan Commissions. She currently serves on the council of advice of the Office for Black Ministries of the Episcopal Church.
All told, Canon Pérez-Bullard has served in the Church for 30 years as a community leader, youth minister and priest in the Dioceses of New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. As the rector of St. Philip’s, LA and Holy Faith, Inglewood, she led multicultural, bilingual congregations engaged in serving and ministering to the wider community. She also served as the Dean of El Centro Deanery IV and the Director of the Episcopal Urban Intern Program. Her work has been featured in Newsweek, the Los Angeles Times, and in the documentary, “Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices.”
The Rev. Canon Dr. Altagracia Pérez-Bullard serves as the Canon for Congregational Vitality in the Episcopal Diocese of New York. Through church leadership development, both lay and clergy, she assists congregations as they seek to engage and collaborate with their changing contexts to bring new life to their communities in the name of Jesus Christ and by the power of the Holy Spirit.
In July 2019 Dr. Perez-Bullard will begin a new phase of ministry as the Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Virginia.
Canon Perez-Bullard holds a PhD in Practical Theology from Claremont School of Theology, CA, an M.Div. and STM from Union Theological Seminary, New York and B.S. in Educational Psychology from New York University. She and her wife Cynthia Bullard-Perez are blessed to share the joys and challenges of their children Veronica, Immanuel, Joshua, Jasmine, Jessica and Ariana.
(This biographical statement written by Altagracia Perez-Bullard in collaboration with Lynsey Allie.)
Biography Date: May 2019
Episcopal Church | Clergy Activist | Latinx | New York City | New York
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