Cortese, Aimee García (1929-), Evangelist
Cortese, Aimee García
Aimee García Cortese was born to Puerto Rican parents in New York City on May 26, 1929. Named after the famous Pentecostal evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, Cortese decided to go into the ministry at age fifteen. After discussing the desire with one minister, she was told, "Las mujeres no predican" (Women do not preach). Despite this discouragement, her father (who was a Pentecostal minister) encouraged her to go into the ministry. She attended the Hispanic American Bible School in New York City and then Central Bible College (CBC) of the Assemblies of God in 1951. Licensed to preach in 1951, she was later ordained by the Wesleyan Methodist Church (1964) and the Assemblies of God (1974). Aimee García married Rafael Cortese and raised four children. She served as an evangelist and then the director of education and associate minister at Thessalonica Christian Church in the Bronx, New York. Because of the legalism she saw in the Assemblies of God, she joined the Wesleyan Methodist Church (1962–1964) in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before returning to the Assemblies of God in 1965. Cortese was a delegate to the First World Congress on Evangelism in West Berlin, Germany, in 1966. She later served as the legislative aide (1969–1972) to her brother, New York State senator Robert García. Cortese became the first female chaplain (1973–1983) in the history of the New York State Department of Corrections. In 1983 she founded Crossroads Tabernacle Church of the Assemblies of God in the South Bronx. It has grown from a few dozen people in 1983 to fifteen hundred members in the 1990s. Her church is one of the largest multicultural churches in New York City. Cortese is a highly sought-after speaker and has preached throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Mexico, Venezuela, Guatemala, Colombia, and Bolivia. She was chosen to be a member of the New York State Governor's Task Force on Domestic Violence and New York mayor Edward Koch's Commission on Hispanic Affairs and Commission on Bias Affairs. She has also been invited to attend and/or address the National Convention of the Assemblies of God, the Black and Hispanic Caucus Group of New York State, the New York State Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. Hispanic Caucus in Washington, D.C., the National Hispanic Bar Association, and the Federation of Hispanic Women in America. She is considered one of the most respected Hispanic Protestant women ministers in the United States and has served as a role model for dozens of women in the ministry.
Espinosa, Gastón. " 'Your Daughters Shall Prophesy' ": A History of Women's Roles in the Latino Pentecostal Movement in the United States. In Women and Twentieth-Century Protestantism, edited by Virginia Brereton and Margaret Bendroth. 2000.
Korrol, Virginia Sánchez. "In Search of Unconventional Women: Histories of Puerto Rican Women in Religious Vocations Before Midcentury." In Denis Lynn Daly Heyck, ed. Barrios and Borderlands. 1994.