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Celebration of Anniversaries

In August and September, a few of our congregations in the USA district celebrated milestone anniversaries – Chinatown, NY, Ensenada, Mexico, and Clifton, NJ.

Chinatown

On August 10, the Chinatown congregation celebrated its 50th anniversary with the theme, “A dear little chapel.” From its humble beginnings as a small Chinese mission started by faithful pioneers, the congregation continues today as a hub of the living word, joyous worship, and loving fellowship. The first service ever translated into Chinese in the USA was February 11, 1968. After a year and a half of dedication to God’s work and sharing the gospel, the Chinatown congregation was officially established. Over the years, they have adopted aspects of Chinese culture without the slightest dilution of the gospel.

Many new and old friends gathered for the special day in the city to share in a divine service. After the service, the choir and congregation sang a few praise hymns together. With locked arms, the program concluded with everyone singing, “We Will Keep Our Faith Alive,” which was sung to God and to each other. A dinner was prepared by the congregation so everyone could share a meal together. There was also a large gallery of photographs that displayed the congregation’s activities over the last 50 years – a reminder for all of wonderful memories!

Ensenada

In its beginnings as a mission, people gathered at the Estrada family house on Wednesdays for services. Then on Sundays, the divine services were held in a small place in the area of Playa Hermosa, while the church was being built – the same building they are in today and where the 50th anniversary was celebrated on August 25.

In preparation for the anniversary, the congregation collaborated in the coordination of the maintenance of the church, decorations, visits, photo collages, and fellowship after service.

In addition, the two congregations in Tijuana were invited to the service and celebration, as well as all the ministers of Baja California. Bishop Manfredo Stegmann held the divine service.

Clifton

On September 15, 2019, the Clifton congregation celebrated their 70th anniversary. Though the congregation is older than 70 years, this is how long they have been in their current church building. An open house was prepared for that day where members could look at photos of past memories, and enjoy a musical program and food together.

Following is a poem that a member, Arlene Max, wrote in tribute of this occasion:

Praise be to God on this day of celebration,
With thanks for hearts which have built the strong foundation
Of this church that has flourished seven decades in this place,
A blessed sanctuary, established by God’s grace.
In our country that had suffered through a time of war and pain,
Faithful souls were thankful that peace had come again.
It was a time of healing, serving man and God above,
A time to stand together and to grow in faith and love.
And here on Clifton Avenue, a church was taking shape,
A humble house of worship where the faithful came to pray.
So they continued steadfastly in fellowship and prayer,
Sharing the apostle’s word with all who gathered there.

There’s a saying, “If these walls could talk…” of all that they have seen,
They’d tell the wondrous stories of the members and their dreams.
Countless stories of compassion, of helping those in need,
Of humbleness in serving, and of every golden deed.
They’d tell of little babies brought in faith before the Lord,
For baptism and sealing and the blessings they afford.
Of the glorious sound of choirs raising voices in God’s praise,
Of the happy sound of the Sunday School, and youthful, carefree days.
Of many couples making vows to live as man and wife,
Trusting the Lord to guide them through their days of joy or strife.
And even of the tearful times when loved ones were called home
How God’s children knew through loving bonds, they never were alone.

The Clifton congregation has been blessed in many ways.
May your faithful, loving heritage thrive and bless your future days.

 

Below is what another member wrote about the Clifton anniversary celebration:

Hace siete años las congregaciones de habla hispana en NJ, nos fusionamos y desde entonces asistimos a la capilla de Clifton. Unos meses atrás, se anunció que nuestra capilla en el mes de Septiembre cumpliría 70 años de construida. Inmediatamente surgieron muchas preguntas en nuestro corazón, para las cuales desconocíamos sus respuestas. Al contemplar la capilla pensábamos: Cuántas almas asistirían a los oficios divinos en aquel entonces? Se vería llena nuestra congregación? En qué horario se realizaban los oficios? Podremos contactar a hermanos que hayan asistido alguna vez aquí? O hermanos que hayan estado en la inauguración de nuestra iglesia? Con todas estas preguntas sólo teníamos en el corazón sentimientos de emoción, entusiasmo y alegría de que este cumpleaños fuera una fiesta para todos. Rápidamente con hermanos y Siervos comenzamos la búsqueda de información y material a cerca de estos 70 años. Los jóvenes pudieron realizar entrevistas a hermanos que habían estado gran parte de su vida asistiendo a nuestra capilla, nos hicieron llegar fotos, recortes de diario, escuchamos anécdotas y aprendimos cómo habían sido esos años. También encontramos libros de asistencia de la época y biblias en Alemán e Inglés que fueron usadas en los comienzos de la capilla. Fue muy emocionante para todos enterarnos que nuestra hermosa capilla había sido construida por los mismos hermanos que perseveraban en aquel entonces,y obtuvimos fotos cronológicas de toda la construcción de la capilla. Todo el material recolectado se exhibió en un fin de semana de puertas abiertas. Allí conocimos hermanos que solían asistir a los oficios en Clifton años atrás, descubrimos sus historias, compartimos un concierto coral, una hermana escribió un poema dedicado a la congregación y vivimos momentos de comunión. Uno de los hallazgos históricos fue encontrar el programa original de inauguración de la capilla. Allí había dos himnos que también pudimos entonar el día del cumpleaños de la iglesia, buscando además estar en comunión con los hermanos que hacia 70 años habían ocupado los mismos bancos y entonado los mismos himnos. Fue una fiesta donde todos nos fuimos felices y agradecidos de haber vivido tal experiencia, ahora sí sabíamos cual había sido la historia de nuestra capilla, una que merecía ser contada e inspirados por esos hermanos y Siervos podemos nosotros seguir escribiendo nuestra historia.

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