Pastor Gilford T. Monrose, of Mt. Zion Church of God (7th Day) in East Flatbush, Brooklyn and founder of the Brooklyn Center of Quality Life (BCQL), said he is totally committed to improving Brooklyn’s diverse communities.
A native of the US Virgin Islands (USVI), whose parents hail from St. Lucia, Pastor Monrose told Caribbean Life, in an exclusive interview, that his work, as director of the Office of Faith-Based and Clergy Initiatives for Brooklyn Borough President, Eric Adams, enables him to endeavor to enhance Brooklyn’s diverse communities “regardless of their religious or political beliefs.”
He said the Office of Faith-Based and Clergy Initiatives serves, among others, churches, temples, synagogues, mosques, places of worship, schools, hospitals, senior centers, local missions, food pantry, soup kitchen, colleges, universities, homeless shelters, para-church ministries, faith institutions, foundations, museums and health centers.
“Our top priorities will be making religious and community groups an integral part of our economic recovery and cultural revival, organizing events around religious celebrations, as well as representing Borough Hall at major tragedies, memorial services, religious and faith-based functions,” said Pastor Monrose, who is also founding president of the 67th Precinct Clergy Council in Brooklyn, also known as the God Squad.
He said the Office of Faith-Based and Clergy Initiatives also interfaces with not-for-profit groups, empowers houses of worship and faith leaders, identifies resources and capacity, notifies religious leaders of public / private grant opportunities, facilitates leadership training, and “opens the use of space” at Brooklyn Borough Hall.
In recognizing that the amount of city-owned land to achieve Mayor Bill de Blasio’s vision for 200,000 affordable housing units is a dwindling resource, Pastor Monrose said Adams has pursued partnerships with Brooklyn’s faith-based institutions.
He said many of these institutions have the social vision to advance affordable and supportive housing.
But, while they may have excess development rights, “these institutions often do not have the financial or technical capacity to advance these development rights,” Monrose said.
Among the initiatives he has instituted for Borough Hall are: Emergency operations plans for Houses of Worship; digital dialogue with high schools on community police relations; Building Brooklyn Right; agency forum for Houses of Worship; Iftar Dinner; Diwali celebration; Bishops Roundtable; Women in Faith Working Group; Interfaith Breakfast; Day of Prayer at the Christian Cultural Center; Caribbean-American Heritage; Black History Month Clergy tour of Weeksville Heritage Center; and Health and Wellness Initiative for Clergy.
In addition, Pastor Monrose serves as co-chair of the Brooklyn Complete Count Committee for Adams.
He said BCQL comprises “dedicated and caring individuals who work hard to provide resources that are essential to the community’s immediate needs.
“By staying abreast of current events, we provide services that are both effective and expansive,” he said, disclosing that BCQL’s program “targets members of the Brooklyn Community.”
He said about 77 percent of BCQL’s clients are Black/African American, with the majority being “low-income, immigrant adults who live in poverty and have less than a high school diploma, as reported by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (NYC DOHMH).”
Pastor Monrose said BCQL’s services include: Food pantry and Hot Meals Program; free computer classes; immigration forums and counseling; health awareness; and career counseling.
He said the 67th Precinct Clergy Council serves as the liaison between the police, community and congregations “to promote healthy neighborhoods while minimizing crime and reviving activism within our churches.”
The membership comprises clergy, local pastors, associate pastors, ministers, elders and evangelists.
“It focuses on lessening neighborhood tensions and the burdens on government, combating community deterioration and juvenile delinquency, and further supporting police officers, community and Houses of Worship,” Pastor Monrose said.
Since 2010, with the full cooperation of the 67th Precinct, the Clergy Council has been “a valued partner in the fight against senseless gun violence,” he said.
“The Clergy Council has responded to numerous calls concerning gunshot victims and their families with hospital visits, counseling sessions, prayer vigils, community walks, gun violence forums and funeral services,” Monrose said. “We have the full support of the New York Police Department (NYPD), community members, support services, law enforcement and religious leaders.
“With 70 member-churches, and our solid and esteemed board of directors, the Clergy Council is strongly positioned to make a great impact this year in the community that we love, serve and cherish,” he added.
Pastor Monrose said he migrated to New York in 1999 to pursue his studies “in the form of a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology and Bible Studies” at Nyack College and Alliance Theological Seminary, and to marry “the love of his life,” Dianne Thomas.
Monrose said he always had a lifelong dream of serving the church, especially the youth, and, as such, functioned as Youth Director for five years, developing programs for young people at the now historic Mt. Zion Church of God 7th Day.
In this capacity, Monrose flourished, and became a ministerial and visionary trailblazer, and spiritual shepherd to many.
In May 2005, he was ordained to the ministry as pastor, where he continues to show great and unyielding love for his church and its members.
He has established the Catch The Vision (CTV) Youth Conferences, which has empowered youths, leaders and marriages, and has attracted youths and adults alike from around the world since 2002.
He also initiated the Unity Gospel Fest at Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center in East Flatbush “to bring together spiritual and physical wellness” and currently chairs the Community Leadership Council at the hospital.
Pastor Monrose was instrumental in the establishment and development of the East Flatbush Ready When the Time Comes Disaster Team, which through, the American Red Cross in Greater New York, provides disaster-relief training to volunteer teams from local community groups. He serves as Team Leader for the local East Flatbush team.
Monrose’s life of service is further portrayed through his work as chaplain for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.
He currently serves as a Board member for the Flatbush YMCA, and on the Advisory Board for Boys Town.
A man who seemingly puts no limits or restrictions on his life of service, Monrose has exhibited great interest in social justice and love for community work.
He is an Alumni Chair for We Are All Brooklyn, an organization that brings diverse leaders together to solve quality of life issues affecting their communities.
He served as a board member of Community Board #17 and Community Advisory Board for the Brooklyn Healthcare Improvement Project; and Advisory Board member for Explore Charter School and Advisory Board for Kings County Behavior Health Community Council.
Pastor Monrose also served as Team Leader for the Neighborhood Housing Services Invest in Brooklyn Initiative, and chaired the Caribbean Tourism Organization’s Inter-Faith celebration.
In addition, he served as vice president of various organizations, including the St. Lucia House Foundation in Brooklyn, Church of God 7th Day Pastor’s Network, Inc., and Churches United to Save and Heal.
Pastor Monrose is a graduate of the New York Police Department Citizen Academy, as well as the FBI Citizen Academy.
He has travelled extensively across the United States, and has partnered with groups across the Caribbean, Africa, Brazil, Moscow, England and Israel, as a guest speaker to youth, and likewise adults, empowering them to become active in their communities and to be “responsible citizens of the world.”
Locally, Pastor Monrose said he works with various elected officials and community leaders as “a moral voice and spiritual counsel on issues affecting the community at large.”
As the loving husband of wife Dianne and father to Gianne and Joshua, Pastor Monrose described himself as “a passionate advocate for families and children.” Monrose and his family live in Weeksville, Brooklyn.
“We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we have already done,” said Pastor Monrose in quoting Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (Feb. 27, 1807 – Mar. 24, 1882), an American poet and educator whose works included “Paul Revere’s Ride”, “The Song of Hiawatha” and “Evangeline.”
Wadsworth Longfellow was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy” and was one of the Fireside Poets from New England.