In Loving Memory of our Founding Pastor:
Rev Efrain Alicea
In the heart of Spanish Harlem, Efrain John Alicea was born on August 6, 1964. Raised by a strong, self-educated mother and a street-smart step-father, Efrain survived the streets of NYC by God’s grace.
From childhood, Efrain always felt God’s call. He was heavily involved in the Catholic Church and as a young man, he ran a youth retreat program called Grace House, whose impact is still felt today.
Efrain’s early twenties were filled with many beautiful moments, including the birth of his son, Jason Noel, whom he absolutely adored, the beginning of a 30 year career at Columbia University, and the formation of life-long friends. Yet, there was a void deep inside he tried to fill with the things of this world, leaving him empty and waiting for a sign from God that He was real.
On Mother’s Day of 1991, Efrain visited Iglesia Sión Pentecostal, a small Spanish church in the Bronx. It was here that he found what his soul had been searching for and dedicated his life to Christ. Efrain’s fervent love for the Lord and zeal for His Word led him to becoming the English Sunday School Teacher and Youth Director within a year under the pastorship of Rev Gabriel DeHoyos.
2 years later, while in a time of prayer, Efrain received lyrics he thought to be a song. He then began to match the lyrics to classic secular hip hop beats. It was at that moment that “Brother E” was born and entered the emerging Gospel Hip Hop scene in NYC.
Efrain formed a ministry called Power & Dominion with teens from his church, ministering in the Tri-State area. In time, he also collaborated with Rev Bert Bocachica and Manny Badillo in a ministry called Brothers Inc. 4 Da' Lord. Brother E served as the Assistant Director of Rap Fest, Inc., a free, open-air, annual evangelistic Gospel Hip-Hop event in the South Bronx that brought together Rap Ministers from all over the world.
Brother E was a major contributor to the Storytellas ministry at Crossroads Tabernacle under Rev Joseph Henry Cortese, which encompassed music, rap, dance, drama, comedy and multimedia in evangelistic efforts. Through this Hip Hop ministry, thousands came to Christ.
It was during this time with the Storytellas that Efrain met his beautiful wife and forever ministry partner, Erika. They were joined in marriage on August 16, 2003.
During these years, Efrain helped plant Harvest Fields Community Church under Rev Mitchell Torres as well as Promised Land Church with Rev Michael Carrion, where Efrain served as Associate Pastor. In addition, he received his Masters in Theology from The Christian University.
While vacationing in the Grand Canyon with his wife in 2008, Efrain heard the Lord speak these words to his heart: “It’s time to open My church.” Not long after, Efrain, Erika and a dedicated core team planted The Elements Church in the Bronx, affiliated with the Evangelical Covenant Church, whose mission is to lead the urban culture to Christ by cultivating relationship. Elements was deeply inspired by Efrain’s mentor, Tommy Kyllonen-Lead Pastor of Crossover Church, and the urban outreach model implemented there.
The following year, Jason’s childhood prayer was answered with the long awaited arrival of his beautiful baby sister, Isabel Rose. Of all Efrain’s achievements, none was greater to him than that of father to his children and grandfather to his two precious granddaughters, Ella and Mila.
Efrain had a heart for the marginalized, exemplifying what it means to be Christ’s hands and feet, bridging the gap between the church and community activism. Most recently, Efrain coached church planters in launching healthy, missional churches through Redeemer City to City. He also founded the first Bronx church planting network called the Bronx Gathering, coaching over 60 pastors from across the borough.
Pastor E died, as he lived, serving God and serving people. His impact was global and though Efrain will be greatly missed, his legacy lives on through his family, friends, and ministries.
“I have fought the good fight,
I have finished the race,
I have kept the faith.
Now there is in store for me
the crown of righteousness,
which the Lord,
the righteous Judge,
will award to me on that day
—and not only to me,
but also to all who have
longed for His appearing.”
2 Timothy 4:7-8