New pastor at New Milford UMC

NEW MILFORD — Pastor Alex da Silva Souto hopes to lead in partnership with his new congregation at the New Milford United Methodist Church.

Souto came to the church in July and, as the new church year starts this month, he welcomes all to attend services both in the church sanctuary and at the Chapel in the Pines.

“I’m not interested in bringing anything necessarily new,” Souto said. “But by being someone new, that will inevitably occur.

“As a community of faith, I hope that we can discern together how God is calling us to be with others. My hope is we can live into God’s vision of what our world should be.”

Souto, 43, was born in Silo Paulo, Brazil and came to the U.S. as an international exchange student at 17. He has lived in Japan and traveled extensively in Asia and Europe. He grew up in a medley of Catholic, Presbyterian, Baptist and Brazilian evangelical traditions. He has been a United Methodist for the last 18 years.

“I met Pastor Alex in 2014 when I went to Berry, VT, with a youth group to repair homes for those in need,” said Tom Nixon, president of the church’s Board of Trustees. “I worked with him for a week. He’s an all-in type of guy, everything is 100 percent in. All the young adults there enjoyed working with him. He was a wonderful leader.”

Nixon said he was pleased when he heard from the New York Annual Conference that Souto would be coming to the New Milford church.”

“Pastor Alex was born to do this,” Nixon said. “You can see a spark there. He raises your level of commitment because you see how committed he is. It’s a gift that isn’t learned. It’s something he just has.”

Souto transferred his membership in the California/Nevada Annual Conference to the New York Annual Conference in 2011. While living in San Francisco, he was actively involved as a lay leader at Glide Memorial Church, Methodist Federation of Social Action and the General Commission on Christian Unity and International Concerns in the California/Nevada Annual Conference.

He completed his Master of Divinity at Yale University in 2012. Now a Commission Elder, by 2016 he should be in “full connection,” with his studies completed.

“I am very passionate about the Social Gospel, making sure that the well of faith is accessible to all and acknowledging the value of other faiths,” Souto said.

That call has led him to serve as a social justice advocacy fellow with the General Board of Church and Society, and other various national and international, interreligious ministries as a participant and a leader.

“I can’t believe it is part of God’s vision when children go hungry, heroin is a plague, health care is out of reach and there are warring parties and economic injustice,” Souto said. “My hope is we can live in God’s vision for what we have here at the church and in New Milford as a town and through that can bring God’s vision to the world.”

Souto has a daughter, Milena, in her fourth year at the University of California-Davis. He brings his Maltese, Bilbao, to service. He holds a B.A. in Architecture from the University of California-Berkeley.; 203-731-3352