Dr. Richard Jeffrey Alberta
1947 - 2019
Borek Jennings Funeral Homes
7425 M-36
Hamburg, MI
Dr. Richard Jeffrey Alberta

Brighton - Dr. Richard Jeffrey Alberta, a loyal husband and proud father whose conversion from atheism to Christianity inspired a significant following and made him a bedrock of the Brighton community, died Monday of a heart attack. He was 71.

Visitation will be held Thursday from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church on Hilton Road. Funeral services will be held at the same location Friday at 11 a.m.

Born in Passaic, New Jersey on August 6, 1947, Richard was the fourth of five children to Frank Alberta, a Sicilian immigrant and restauranteur, and Betty Tillack. While playing football for Mahwah High School he met the love of his life, a spunky cheerleader named Donna Pastor, whose surname foreshadowed their serendipitous journey ahead.

Having joined the United States Marine Corps, only to be honorably discharged due to complications from tuberculosis, Richard enrolled in Rutgers University and studied finance, pre-law and political science. He married his high school sweetheart, who was also studying at Rutgers, and both ventured gamely into the workplace upon graduation, Richard pursuing a career in finance with law school on the horizon and Donna working for ABC Radio in New York.

Just as his professional career was reaching new heights, however, Alberta was hitting rock bottom. Depressed and gripped by anxiety, he agreed to attend a church service with his niece, Lynn. Alberta was an avowed atheist, having been raised in a broken and non-religious home. But he found unexpected comfort in the Gospel. Soon he found himself not only accepting Christ, becoming "born again" and evangelizing to his reluctant spouse, but flirting with the notion of entering the ministry himself. Friends and family thought him insane: He would be forsaking a lucrative career to move his wife and newborn son, Christopher, into seminary housing in the pursuit of a penniless vocation. Yet after feeling moved by the Lord, and with the support of his newly converted (and highly enthusiastic) wife, Alberta enrolled in Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts, where he earned a Masters of Divinity degree before earning his Doctor of Ministry degree from Eastern Baptist Seminary in Philadelphia.

Alberta's winding path as a clergyman—with stops in Oklahoma, New York, Massachusetts and elsewhere—ultimately led him to Michigan. After serving as an associate pastor at Ward Church in Livonia, he moved to Brighton in 1992 to become senior pastor of the recently planted Cornerstone EPC. Over the ensuing 25 years, Alberta's flock grew from several hundred to several thousand, and he established Cornerstone as one of Metro Detroit's most vibrant churches. Much of this growth owed quite manifestly to Alberta's renowned style in the pulpit, an effortless blend of Greek intellectualism, football metaphors and blond jokes aimed at the pastor's radiant wife. But he deflected all credit. "To God be the glory," Alberta would say.

Retiring at the end of 2018 after four decades of preaching, Alberta was looking forward to golfing, cruising in his convertible and spending time with his grandchildren. But he quickly grew restless—quitting his part-time job at The Majestic Golf Course three hours into his first shift—and felt compelled to continue his ministry. Alberta soon accepted the job of chaplain at the Woodland Village assisted living community, providing comfort and companionship to the elderly. He also kept busy communicating with believers around the world and sketching the outlines of a book he hoped to write on the Sermon on the Mount.

Alberta returned to the pulpit in Cornerstone on June 23 after being named the church's pastor emeritus. He delivered a message, "Four Things God Knows About You," meant to encapsulate the Christian faith: love, grace, faith and trust. It was the last sermon he would ever give.

Alberta is preceded in death by his mother and father, as well as by his oldest grandson, Henry Alberta.

He is survived by his wife of 49 years, Donna Alberta; his four sons, Christopher, Jonathan (Kristi), Brian (Stephanie) and Tim (Sweta); his grandchildren, Alexis, Norah, Madison, Gabriel, Tyler, Isaac, Abraham, Lewis, Miles, Brooks and Shea; and siblings Betty Lynn, Frank, Ted and Jack.

Per the wishes of Pastor Alberta, memorial donations should be made to the Livingston County Right to Life or the Pregnancy Help Clinic in Brighton. Please leave a message of comfort for the Alberta family at 1-877-231-7900, or sign his guestbook at www.borekjennings.com.

Arrangements by Borek Jennings Funeral Home, Hamburg Chapel.

Published by Detroit Free Press & The Detroit News on Jul. 31, 2019.
To plant trees in memory, please visit the Sympathy Store.
3:00p.m. - 8:00p.m.
Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Hilton Road, MI
Funeral service
Cornerstone Evangelical Presbyterian Church
Hilton Road, MI
Funeral services provided by:
Borek Jennings Funeral Homes
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32 Entries
Richard always made it fun to be in worship and learning. Really miss the "big guy".
jack rouser
July 25, 2020
To Tim, Sweta, there children & Donna, I am glad to have meant him if only once on the special occasion I did. I am very sorry for your loss.
Elise Schumann
August 5, 2019
Donna and family,
Pastor Alberta was passionate about his faith and was an amazing role model. He was an inspiration to our family, and led us all to a deeper relationship with our Lord and Savior. He truly made a huge impact on the lives of so many, and we were sad to leave Cornerstone when we were transferred back to Ohio. I am sorry he wasn't able to enjoy many years of retirement, but know he's rejoicing in heaven as we grieve for him here.
Our sympathy & prayers to Donna and family.
Mark & Mary Abner, Foster, KY
Mark & Mary Abner
August 2, 2019
I moved to Brighton in 2005, where my oldest daughter, Savannah enrolled in Cornerstone School, and I began attending Cornerstone EPC. Pastor Alberta used to come to CCS with his dog in tow, which my now animal-science-major, daughter loved. Pastor Alberta never failed to make me smile/outright laugh, while at the same time being very serious in expressing the word of God in such meaningful ways. One of the things that always struck me when leaving a service was that when you shook hands with him, he held on as if not wanting to let go, which always made me feel how much he truly loved/cared for me and every single person in his congregation. My youngest daughter was working at Woodland when he first started his retirement gig (as I called it) there, and if she saw him on a Sunday, she could be sure he'd ask if she'd been to church. Probably annoyed her (even though she answered honestly which caused ensuing conversation as to why not), but I know it was out of his great faith in Christ, wanting to share that faith with others, and because he cared about her. My deepest sympathies to Donna, his sons, and all his grandchildren and extended family. I will truly miss him.
Anita Kittell
August 2, 2019
Some 20 years ago I was on a committee looking for a Pastor for Cornerstone church. We found Pastor Alberta at Ward church in Livonia. We convinced Pastor Hess to release him and join us. He did and what a jewel he turned out to be. Thank you for your Christian service to Cornerstone and your influence in and on my life. Don R Sr.
August 2, 2019
A great spiritual leader to my family and our community who knew all his flock on a first name basis and cared deeply for us all.
Karen (Zawilanski) Zoe
August 2, 2019
Ryan Moore
August 1, 2019
Who can know the ways of our Lord? Yet we rest in his blessed mercy and unfailing love for all who call him Father. Pastor Alberta taught me so much as he never failed to speak the absolute truth even when it was hard to hear and understand. How fortunate i am to have grown spiritually under his teaching. I pray for Donna and all his family to feel our Lords rich embrace during these undoubtedly difficult days. Much love to you all.
Judith Haggerty
August 1, 2019
Dearest Donna,
Words cannot express my heartfelt condolences to you and your family. I will truly miss the surprise visits to Middlebelt Baptist as you and Pastor Richard would occasionally pop in!!! I must say, I was thoroughly blessed, inspired, challenged, and ministered to by Pastor Alberta's testimony on YouTube (I've listened to it several times in the last day or two). It will be a cherished keepsake for years to come and will be a tool that God can continue to use to encourage others to follow Christ and give HIM charge of your life!
Thank you Donna for your faithful godly example, your energy, enthusiasm, and warm embraces that are so characteristically YOU! I love you sister and will keep you and your loved ones in my prayers.

Fleda and Just Praise!
Fleda Fleming
August 1, 2019
Patrick Steel
August 1, 2019
We are praying for you Donna. and your family.
We are very grateful to have been a part of the flock of Pastor Alberta. We are so thankful for his teaching and encouragement in our walk with God.
Vernon and Nancy Hoffner. Brighton, Mi
Vernon Hoffner
July 31, 2019
The absence of Dr. Alberta has created an uncomfortable void for this admirer and this family. It seems a premature departure by one who had endless enthusiasm, joy, empathy and drive that appeared would last for another twenty years and who's desire to share the eternal truths and saving grace of Jesus Christ could add to the many that have been touched by Christ through this incredible servant.

Hearing Dr. Alberta speak was pure privilege - purchasing audio copies of his sermons and sharing them with family and friends was a joy; they all returned a grateful thank you for hearing such a great defense of the Christian faith and their joy multiplied when they would hear Dr. Alberta in person. He humbly and fearfully waded into scripture and prayed before each delivery that if he were to say something not pleasing in the Lord's presence, may it then be brought to nothing. So reverent, so prepared and so self-deprecating.

To the Alberta family, thank you thank you for sharing a grand human being, an entirely delightful devoted servant for the Kingdom in which he now kneels joyous, finally, and speechless.

We lift you up in prayer for comfort and strength as you celebrate his life and carry on his love of Christ to all.

Incredibly Grateful,

Maclear Family
Brighton, Mi
Bill Maclear
July 31, 2019
Donna and the Alberta family...The Lord gave you Richard and you supported him and his ministry. We will always be grateful that you allowed us and the congregation to be part of your extended family. As much as everyone who knew him will miss him, your grief is also shared and so is your joy for knowing he is alive for all eternity. Blessings to all of you. Don and Jill Maybee
Don and Jilk Maybee
July 31, 2019
An inspiration to all who met him, his sermons were carefully crafted and enlightening. He shared his gifts as a spiritual leader with countless people in our community, and for that we are grateful. His impact was enormous, and our family is happy have known him.
Linda Dobis Juday
July 31, 2019
To Donna and the family, we send our heartfelt sympathy. Dr. Alberta was our "summer Pastor" for the 7 years we spent in Michigan from Florida. What a blessing his messages were to us and our understanding of the Bible and how God wanted us to live.

Paul and Esther Baxendale
Venice, Florida
Esther Baxendale
July 31, 2019
Pastor Alberta was passionate about his faith and an inspiration to our family. He was deeply loved and he will be missed. His love for God, his family and his congregation was evident in his words and deeds. Thank you, God, for blessing us through his life.
Charles and Judy Gray
July 31, 2019
Pastor Alberta was such a wonderful man who truely Loved the Lord. He helped me through many personal problems and paid for me to get professional help in order to save my marriage. He prayed with me on several occasions. I will miss his Boldness in Christ and his forgiving heart. Thank you Pastor thank you from the bottom of my heart!!
Leslie Knight
July 31, 2019
As others this came as a shock . I didn't know Pastor Alberta as well as his wife Donna but when we passed in the halls of Cornerstone he was always smiling an said hello. I started going to Cornerstone in 2003. I remember when I first arrived and heard Pastor Alberta preach.. It was so real and convicting for me.. I would sit there and listen to him like no one else was there but me. He was my hero in the sense of a man that loved the Lord and his family so much. This is a sad time for the community and Cornerstone Church. I will truly miss Pastor Alberta. Thank you for all the sermons and making Cornerstone Church my home. My prayers and love go out to Donna and family.
Christine Sendry
July 31, 2019
Jack and Danielle
Your brother sounded like a great man and came to the conclusion that led him to eternal life. May God be with all of you during this difficult time and may you find peace in knowing that Rich is with the Lord.
Brian Hacker
July 31, 2019
Our deepest sympathies to the family - Dr. Alberta's Sunday messages always seemed to hit home to give encouragement for the week ahead. Dr. Hess was welcoming him home.
Scott & Kim Kish
July 31, 2019
Dear Donna and family,
What a shock! I'm so sorry for your loss - too soon. I know Pastor Alberta is happy and home with Jesus I know how we feel but this is nothing compared to how much you, the kids and grandkids love and miss him.
I saw Pastor Alberta Sunday at the third service and his beautiful red Mustang with the top down. We shared the love for that car. He always chuckled and said" so you like that one huh".
His Holy -spirit led life embodied Cornerstone and everything was accomplished through the will of the Holy Spirit. You could feel it. I remember the first time I walked into the main entrance by the church office for our family's first church service, I immediately felt the presence of the Holy Spirit and peace.
Ulla Lilienthal
July 31, 2019
Pastor Alberta made it okay to laugh in church, something different for this recovering Baptist. Love always, Jack for the Rousers
Jack Rouser
July 31, 2019
The Cornerstone search team sure made the right decision w hen they picked you for our senior Pastor over 20 years ago. Thank you for being my close friend and personal adviser. Your strong faith was an inspiration to me. I will never forget you. Don Restauri Sr.
July 31, 2019
This came as a shock. I had the honor of hearing several of Pastor Alberta's sermons at Cornerstone and most recently when he preached at my home church, Ward EPC. He was quite a servant to our Lord. Our thoughts and prayers go to the Alberta and Cornerstone families.
Kathy and Steve Maczko
July 31, 2019
Richard, Thank you for making this Psalm so meaningful to me. You will be missed.

Psalm 121
The Lord Our Protector
A song of ascents.
1 I lift my eyes toward the mountains.
Where will my help come from?
2 My help comes from the Lord,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

3 He will not allow your foot to slip;
your Protector will not slumber.
4 Indeed, the Protector of Israel
does not slumber or sleep.

5 The Lord protects you;
the Lord is a shelter right by your side.[a]
6 The sun will not strike you by day
or the moon by night.

7 The Lord will protect you from all harm;
He will protect your life.
8 The Lord will protect your coming and going
both now and forever.
Stevn Ezikian
July 31, 2019
Our sympathies to his family. Dr. Kolenda's sincere smile and his interest and care for people was evident. His legacy of faith and trust will live on through his far reaching impact.
Joe and Terri Crowther
July 31, 2019
I can only imagine the joy and antics Rich and my father, Stew Pohlman, are enjoying during their reunion in their eternal destiny. Rich is gone way too soon by our standards but Dad must be thrilled to again have him as his "associate" praising God.
Gayle DiNicola
July 31, 2019
I will always remember how Dr. Alberta was not ashamed of the Lord Jesus. Wherever he went, he shared the good news about His Lord and Savior, Jesus. He knew what it was to be without Him and what a difference Jesus can make in one's life. He loved people and wanted them to also have the peace and joy that can only come through committing one's life to Jesus.
Sharon Sweet
July 31, 2019
Dear Donna and Family. You will be in our prayers. Richard was a great pastor. I remember the early days of Cornerstone. Now in Alabama we are searching for a church home and it's difficult because there is no one like Richard. Blessings Gene and Pam Nagy
Pam Nagy
July 31, 2019
He was a great man!
May that be his memory for ever!
George Bakopoulos
July 30, 2019
a loved one
July 30, 2019
Let the memory of this great man get you through this difficult time. The world is certainly a dimmer place without Pastor's bright light.
Allison Restauri
July 30, 2019
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