New Bilingual Congregation
The Bronx bilingual church of Christ met for the first time on December with about fifty in attendance. Since then we have enjoyed edifying services and stimulating Bible studies. The congregation resulted from a Paul-Barnabas type disagreement (Acts 15) with brethren at Sherman Avenue in Upper Manhattan. The growing group of young Christians and a number of parents felt that bilingual services were edifying. Surveys indicated that over 80% of the brethren were in favor of that approach. However, some of the elderly brethren were uncomfortable with the idea, so everyone mutually agreed to swarm and start a new work. There have been a few ruffled feathers in the process, but almost everyone is working to minimize bad feelings. About a dozen of us are attending services with both groups.
The new congregation has relieved the overcrowding problem at Sherman Avenue. My main concern is that the composition of both congregations is lopsided Sherman Avenue is now composed about 80% of people over 40 years old and the bilingual congregation has about 80% of its attendance under 25 years of age.
Though, we are calling the congregation Bronx bilingual church of Christ, we are currently meeting at 508 West 139th Street in Manhattan. We thought we had arrangements to rent space in a community Center in the Bronx, but they fell through. One of our members was able to obtain a basement room in her apartment building that is rented out for parties, and that is serving us adequately until we can find a place in the Bronx.
Fair Lawn, New Jersey
The Hispanic congregation in Fair Lawn, New Jersey is never as exciting as the congregations in New York City but it is always very stable. German Ortiz has always been a pillar in that congregation. A growing group of brethren are meeting in his home every Friday night for prayer and Bible study. I can sense a growing closeness among the brethren because of those Friday gatherings. Early Christians met often in homes, and such is essential for unity and closeness today. German has also encouraged all the brethren to be part of a "prayer chain." We've told him when we will be praying in particular for the needs of the congregation and he hands out a list of special prayer requests. It is nice to know that at almost every hour of the day that people are praying for you and others of the congregation.
-Beverly and I took a group of teenagers to Wellandport, Ontario in November. This has become an annual trip and strengthens the teenagers from both Canada and New York City.
Caleb Churchill organized an all day session to study prayer earlier this month. I would guess that between 40 and 50 people attended from all over the Northeast.
I have several encouraging new home Bible studies: Mercedes Banks is a Dominican woman from the Bronx in her 40's who quickly grasps Bible truths as we study in the book of Acts. Marcelo, from Peru, has had a rough life but has turned his life around morally and is in a Pentecostal church. However, he loves to read Acts with us and we hope in that way to teach him more accurately the way of the Lord.