3 local congregations, 1 GWS rise in Caribbean District
By RENEE SUAREZ and MARK ANDRO MILAN
Date Posted: January 18, 2022
On the first day of this new year, Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) members from the Caribbean witnessed a milestone in the history of their ecclesiastical district that bears the region’s name.
They altogether gathered through videoconferencing in the worship service that marked the formal establishment of three local congregations—Oranjestad, Aruba; Guantanamo Bay, Cuba; Sto. Domingo, Dominican Republic; and one Group Worship Service (GWS)—Pigeon, Haiti.
They thanked and praised the Lord God for the successes He granted to the entire Church and to their district as manifested by, among others, its rapid expansion.
The gathering, which served as the inaugural worship service, for the said congregations and GWS, was officiated by Brother Esteban Inocencio Jr., district supervising minister, from the Miami Local Congregation’s house of worship as the host site.
The first of the two GWS in Aruba, an island country in the Caribbean, is now the Local Congregation of Oranjestad, Aruba. “I went here when there was scarcely a brother [in the faith] in sight. It was hard back then,” shared Corazon Gargantilla. But with God’s help, she and other pioneering brethren “were able to meet and gather for our worship services.” Lydia Fran, another pioneer member, said, “Then when I came to Aruba in 1998, we used to worship in a rented place.”
“This is yet another great blessing from God,” said Mory Dela Cruz, in an interview after the inaugural worship service. He tearfully added, “Our Executive Minister is likewise caring. He includes us in his prayers. Thank you so much Brother Eduardo V. Manalo.”
Guantanamo Bay, Cuba
After more than 15 years, the district’s oldest GWS has been elevated to become the Local Congregation of Guantanamo Bay. “Before going here, I made sure that there would be worship services,” recalled Ricardo Causapin, pioneer member. “Having done so, I took the job. I attended the first worship service here in 2006.”
“Before, when we worship, we were only using cassette tapes sent by the Church Administration. Now it is through livestreaming,” said Bernard Lazaro, head deacon. On behalf of the congregation, he added, “I am very happy, as well as the brethren here [being] now counted as a local congregation. Thanks be to our Lord God.”
Sto. Domingo, Dominican Republic
“It is the first local congregation in the Dominican Republic,” said Brother Jeremias Parocha, resident minister of the newly established Local Congregation of Sto. Domingo, so named after one of the oldest cities and the capital of the Dominican Republic. On the inaugural worship service, Brother Parocha translated into Spanish the words of God while being preached by Brother Esteban.
From four pioneering members, the brethren there now count more than 50. Rosa Santos, deaconess, said, “I feel very good, because there is a lot of members, just as God wants.” Also inspired, Anselot Saintelous, KADIWA member, added, “We will work hard to do more than that to have more congregations in Sto. Domingo.”
Nery Paniagua, deaconess, also shared her conviction, “My son is a pastor in another church, but I did not accompany him. I came to the Church Of Christ and I never left. We have to give God the glory that He deserves.”
Pigeon, Haiti GWS
“I feel very happy that I was able to attend, seeing [God’s] work growing day by day,” said Schnyder Dicette, upon attending the Pigeon, Haiti GWS’ inaugural worship service, during which he also took oath as the KADIWA congregation president.
Cherley Dieudonne, newly appointed secretary, said, “This is God’s will that we accept Church duties, being part of God’s work through the Church. I will encourage my fellow youth to stay obedient to God while we also spread His words.”
The preaching of the district supervising minister was translated to Haitian Creole by Brother Camy Augustin, a ministerial worker. —With reports from INC News Section