Table of Contents

 

Ethnic Assemblies

 

It seemed desirable to separate the ethnic assemblies from the main body of this work, even though the assembly histories listed by states and provinces are thereby shortened.

 

By ‘Ethnic Assemblies’ I mean assemblies for which the language used is not English, or was not English initially, or those assemblies which use both English and another language in their services. The French-speaking assemblies in Quebec and nearby areas are not included in this section. Most of the assemblies described in this section are also referred to briefly in the states and provinces in which they are or were located.

 

The number of currently existing ethnic assemblies on the continent is considerably greater than those discussed here because the majority of them did not respond to the requests for information. Judging from assembly names alone as given in recent Walterick Address Books and other knowledge, I can identify about 50 ethnic assemblies, not including the many French-speaking assemblies in Canada. There are undoubtedly many more, and so 60 to 70 is not an unreasonable guess for the number of ethnic assemblies currently the United States and Canada.

 

For brethren involvement with the American Indians, I expand the discussion beyond assembly histories to describe briefly the extensive assembly missionary work with these Native Americans.

 

Spanish

 

Spanish-speaking people coming to the United States usually locate in the larger cities. New York, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Chicago, Miami, and Houston have the largest Spanish-speaking populations, though many other cities and towns have large Spanish-speaking communities. The largest concentrations are found in the southwestern states – Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, California, and Colorado.

 

The earliest Spanish work connected with the assemblies seems to be in Texas, and we begin the discussion there. Ervin D. Dresch was an early pioneer in this work. Mr. Dresch’s printed Gospel ministry, hymns, and Vacation Bible School material went to all Spanish countries. For many years he cooperated with Carl Ostertag in getting out his annual Gospel paper Palabras Fieles, whose circulation reached well over a million copies each issue.

 

In 1917, Mr. Dresch joined R. H. Hall, who had been a missionary in Honduras, in evangelizing Spanish-speaking people in rural communities from Michigan to New Mexico and Texas.

 

In San Antonio, Texas, the reading of the Scriptures in Spanish by Dresch and Hall attracted crowds of Spanish-speaking people to the Plaza, so these brothers began a mission work in that city in 1918. Soon a small Sunday school and assembly were started in a Mexican community, at 629 South San Jacinto Street. In 1945, attendance at the San Jacinto Gospel Hall was 55 in the Sunday School, with 14 Breaking Bread, representing eleven families. A weekly Gospel meeting was held at the County Jail. Open air meetings were held in the market place. Attendance at the San Jacinto Gospel Hall averaged about 65 in Sunday school and 20 at the Lord’s Supper in 1967.

 

Visits to another area of the city resulted in souls saved. A Sunday school was conducted in a garage. Then the Mexican Gospel Hall, also called Mayfield Hall, was built at 1118 West Mayfield Boule­vard. The testimony was carried on there by V. M. Rivera for many years. N.D. Short was also involved in the work among Spanish-speaking peoples in the city. In much the same way, other Sunday Schools were started in other areas both inside and outside of San Antonio.

 

V. M. Rivera was reared in the Roman Catholic church. On a Sunday afternoon in January 1921, near the market place in San Antonio, he heard a group of Mexican people singing a Gospel hymn, which led to his salvation.

 

In 1922, he  moved with his family to Carrollville, Wisconsin, 12 miles south of Milwaukee, and began to do personal work among the Mexicans. The Lord honored his effort with the salvation of 17 souls. With these and some denominational believers he began a Bible study in his home. When Mr. Rivera suggested that meetings be without any denominational affiliations, some with denominational interest opposed this and separated from the group.

 

J. Hagelgren and John R. Hale learned of the stand the little group took and began visiting them and conducting Bible readings. They also brought Dan Dunnett who conducted meetings for several weeks, which established them in the faith. The group meeting with Mr. Rivera began to Break Bread in his home, and later met with the English-speaking assembly in Milwaukee. In November 1939, Mr. Rivera was commended to full-time ministry, and moved with his large family to South San Antonio, where he took many responsibilities at the Mexican Gospel Hall; he preached for many years in the city and nearby towns and also had a weekly program over a local radio station.

* * * * * * *

 

A Spanish-speaking assembly, now called Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica in Houston began in 1958 when Alberto Martin came to the United States from Argentina to find employment. He came with David Cook, one of the sons of William and Marie Cook, missionaries to Argen­tina. Soon  another man and his family arrived in Houston from Argentina to join Al­berto. Then two others followed. The small group gathered with the Pineview Bible Chapel assembly for a short while. Then they went to the South Houston Gospel Chapel meeting where one of the brethren pro­vided them with a garage with chairs and a piano. Here they held a Sunday School for Mexican children from the vicinity and also began Break­ing Bread.

 

As the group grew numerically, they bought a house and remodeled it for their meetings. In this house the work took form and continued its growth. Shortly thereafter, a local Christian foundation offered them the former MacGregor Bible Chapel in Houston on Milart Street; the Argentineans bought it, calling it the MacGregor Spanish Bible Chapel.

 

The assembly had some fifty in fellowship in 1971, the majority of which were young couples with families. There were over 150 children in the Sunday School. Several of their youngsters took part in the Gospel meetings with instrumental ensembles.

 

In January 1971, just over twelve years after its humble beginning, the Argentinean assembly of Houston held its Second General Conference. Representatives from New Orleans, St. Louis, and Chicago, as well as Weslaco and Pearland in Texas gathered with the Spanish-speaking Christians of Houston to share in the conference. Brethren from the Argentine, Italy, Dominican Republic, Mexico, El Salva­dor, Honduras, and United States Remembered the Lord on Sunday. Three traveling commended workers from the homeland, don Angel Bonatti, don Carmelo Racciatti and wife, and don Francisco Zinna and wife, ministered the Word during the conference, besides Mariano Gonzalez from Chicago and Stan Hanna from Honduras.

 

The assembly had a radio program in Spanish over KLVL, a commercial station, and a  half-hour program over KHCB, a Christian station. Many were reached through the radio and became part of their fellowship. For quite some time they also spon­sored a five-minute program over XCSH, which is heard in Mexico. Another outreach to Mexico was litera­ture. Houston Christians distributed it from house to house in the town of Salinas-Hidalgo, south of the border.

 

This assembly disbanded in the mid 1980s, to be replaced by another, called the Spanish Bible Chapel in South Houston at 716 Avenue I. This in turn disbanded and Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica is now the Spanish-speaking assembly in the Sugarland area of Houston.

* * * * * * *

 

David and Virginia Metler came to Clovis, NM in 1960 to work among the Spanish there. By 1967, they had established an assembly with seven families in fellowship The work was started in a Spanish-American home with a small children’s class that grew to 250 boys and girls. Parents were reached through this class, and a Sunday school was form­ed from it.

 

Most of the families in that area are quite poor; farm work is from June to November, and the winter months are very hard for them. Clothing received from supporting assemblies has been the means of keeping Sunday School teenagers in school. All the meetings are now in English since this helps them to adjust to conditions at work and school.

 

When the Spanish-American families are saved they clean up their homes and there is a real change in their lives. Just knowing that someone cares for them gives them a new lease on life and they seek to be testi­monies to friends and relatives. Some have been active in the assembly in driving buses and teaching. Stewards Foundation helped the assembly  purchase the Clovis Gospel Chapel.

 

The use of Emmaus Bible courses after the Wednesday night prayer meeting was helpful. A Bible study with the believ­ers on Tuesday night usually lasted two to three hours, for the Christians were eager to know the Word of God. Brethren from Albuquerque have helped the assembly at Clovis. Mr. Gross came from Socorro, 300 miles west of Clovis, once a month. Mrs. Metler has had a major role in maintaining the work since Mr. Metler died. The work is ongoing, though small, in 1998.

* * * * * * *

 

Leslie and Winifred Sandberg had been serving the Lord among the Spanish-speaking people in Arizona for many years when John Walden invited them to come and help in the Christian Home for Children in Colorado Springs, probably in about 1950, with the idea of starting a branch of the Home for Mexican children. It soon became  apparent that the Lord’s purpose for them was not to do this but to go to Pueblo, a sizeable city about 40 miles south of Colorado Springs, where there was a large Spanish-speaking population, and begin a Gospel work there.

 

Children’s Bible classes were started in many neighborhoods; these were followed by Gospel meetings to which the parents were invited. The Sandberg’s adopted son, Jerardo Reyes, who had been saved in the work in Arizona, came to Pueblo and helped in the children’s work. As people were saved, they were taught further in the Word, and the group of Christians began to Break Bread and function as an assembly, called Salo½ Bíblico.

 

Some time later, Miss Esther Hubbard, a public school teacher, came and was active in the work at Salo½ Bíblico. Mr. and Mrs. Frank Luna came after that from Albuquerque and entered into fellowship in the assembly. Mr. Luna has been serving as an elder since then. Jerardo Reyes’ widow Nellie was one of the first converts in the Pueblo work; she and other members of the Reyes families continue active in the assembly. Helpers from other assemblies through the years have been Miss Grace Watson from Colorado Springs, and Miss Carla Brown (Mrs. Jim Cocking).

 

Today, Salo½ Bíblico is small but continues with regular meetings, Sunday School, ladies’ Bible Classes, weekly neighborhood Bible classes for children and young folks, and a summer Vacation Bible School.

* * * * * * *

 

In 1950, the John Ruddocks, on furlough from Honduras, the Gordon Webberleys from Mexico, and Irene Gallagher of Los Angeles started having cottage meetings for the Spanish-speaking people of East Los Angeles. Miss Gallagher had been holding Bible classes for children for five years. These workers, together with the Thropays who had been having meetings for children, started the Arizona Avenue Gospel Hall in East Los Angeles, with a Sunday school having 40 to 60 children coming each week. The Ruddocks and Webberleys worked with the adults before returning to their missionary work. In the late 1950s, Mr. L. Ferguson came to help Adam Thropay and Miss Gallagher with the children.

 

In the Arizona Avenue Gospel Hall were Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Chileans, Bolivians, Cubans, and some from the U.S.A. All the services for the adults were in Spanish. The work with the children and young people was conducted almost entirely in English. Some of the children professed faith in Christ. Helpers from other assemblies made it possible to invite a large number of children to Vacation Bible School, where one year the average daily attendance was 192. The assembly had an annual Christmas program in a community hall, at which time the Gospel was presented to parents.

* * * * * * *

 

Iglesia Evangelica de Highland Park in Los Angeles began in the late 1970s as a neighborhood Bible study, conducted by Stan Hanna and then Irene Gallagher. Mr. Sequeida was also involved in the early days of the assembly. Richard and Nancye Yarrall, who had been commended by assemblies in New Zealand to the Lord’s work in Colombia, South America, came to the Los Angeles area in 1989 to work among the Latinos there, having received a new commendation from their assemblies, and from Avenue 54 Bible Chapel and Westminster Bible Chapel in Los Angeles.

 

The Spanish-speaking assembly now occupies facilities at Avenue 54 Bible Chapel. Its leaders are Jesus Robles, Alister Andrew, Richard Yarrall, and Mr. Sequeida. About 60 adults and youngsters attend Iglesia Evangelica de Highland Park.

* * * * * * *

 

The Yarralls commenced door-to-door visitation in the Westminster area of greater Los Angeles while still helping at Highland Park. A Saturday night Bible study and children’s classes were started in the home of an interested family. Contacts were made and some were saved. The group slowly built up and in January 1994, they began Sunday meetings as an assembly under the name Iglesia Cristiana de Westminster, closely associated with the Westminster Bible Chapel, which is English-speaking. The work has continued to grow and today some 25 families are associated with the assembly, with about 50 in attendance on Sundays.

 

The Yarralls maintain the Emmaus Correspondence office in Spanish, for the U.S.A. Richard has a half-hour Monday evening radio program of Bible teaching in Spanish, called “La Biblia Abierta.” The local ladies also have a 4-minute radio time called “De amiga a amiga” (From Friend to Friend), prepared by sisters from Argentina.

* * * * * * *

 

There are Spanish areas in nearby El Monte also. In the early 1960s, a large number of Mexican children were attending Sunday School at the English-speaking El Monte Assembly. When the El Monte Assembly later moved to Temple City,  Bob Garcia, L. Ferguson, Irene Gallagher, the Tinneys, and others continued to work with the Spanish youth in the Teen Center in El Monte and elsewhere. Students from Culver City Bible School gave much assistance in this work.

* * * * * * *

 

The large number of Hispanics in the southern part of California  led to the formation of a Spanish-speaking congregation at Laurel Bible Chapel in San Diego in about 1990. George Mora began the work among the Hispanics by means of a Spanish Bible Class at Laurel involving an unsaved neighbor family whose children were attending the Sunday School. This work is ongoing.

* * * * * * *

 

Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica in Glendale, CA has existed for many years and now is associated with the Glendale Gospel Chapel. It was known for its strong young people’s group, who visited and distributed literature; they were the major  force behind the growth of their assembly.

* * * * * * *

 

Asamblea Evangelica in Grand Rapids, MI began in 1995 in the home of Ricardo and Diana Tavarez. The Christians moved after that to 635 South Division, where they currently meet. The Gerena, Torres, and Garcia families, as well as the Tavarez family, were involved in the start. Jose Garcia and Ricardo Tavarez Sr. have been the leaders. Ricardo and Diana Tavarez are self- supporting, and work among Mexican, Guatemalan, and other emigrants from Central America. The Spanish-speaking assembly has Christians from Guatemala, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico, as well as the U.S.

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The city of Chicago had over half a million Spanish-speaking people and two Spanish-speaking assemblies in 1992. Forty-seven miles north of Chicago is Waukegan, IL with an active Spanish assembly, called Local Cristiano. Francisco and Alveolus Eyes from the Dominican Republic started and have nurtured this work since 1973. The meetings are held in an old building, since remodeled, in downtown Waukegan. The Spanish assembly is an inner city gathering and a melting pot of Colombians, Dominicans, Hondurans, Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, and Salvadorans. They carry on an aggressive evangelistic thrust.

 

Eladio Colon, Miguel Morales, and Miguel Calderon, besides the Eyes and others, carry the burden of the ministry to the Spanish community. Francisco Eyes, besides devoting most of his time to the Lord’s work, teaches English as a second language at the College of Lake County.

 

The group had its early meetings in the apartment of Alberto Obregon, and moved several times before settling into the present facilities located at 146 S. Genesee Road. Their Gospel service is well attended by the unsaved. Many have found the Lord over the years through this ministry, includ­ing two medical doctors.

* * * * * * *

 

In 1943, Capilla Evangelica in Manhattan, also called the 116th Street Assembly, became the first Spanish-speaking assembly in New York City. Through the years a few came to trust in Christ as Savior, but the meeting remained small. Some 35 believers Broke Bread there in 1967. About a third of this number were widows or sisters whose husbands did not share their faith. Neighborhood crime affected attendance at evening meet­ings.

Paul Bitler and his wife Margaret labored with Jose Hernandez in this field. Speakers at the 116th Street Assembly included Mr. C. McKinnie, who served the Lord in Chile, and Mr. Paul Clark who served the Lord in Mexico. The assembly is still active.

* * * * * * *

 

Norfolk Street Chapel in downtown Manhattan started in 1963. Difficulties accompanied the work but also rich spiritual blessings, and people were saved and baptized. The area is predominantly Spanish and is an area of drug addiction and very poor surroundings, spiritually and materially. The chapel was robbed five times before 1967. Emilio Ramos worked faithfully in the assembly, visiting the sick in addition to participating in all the activities of the assembly. On his vacation he preached in Puerto Rico and Santo Domingo. Cruz Rodriguez was among the leaders in the assembly, which disbanded many years ago.

* * * * * * *

 

Asamblea Evanglica in Brooklyn began in 1961 through the efforts of Agustin Lopez, Manuel Perez, Juan R. Cordova, Emilio Campos, and Miguel Colon. It was a hive-off from Evergreen Gospel Chapel in Brooklyn and has stayed at the same location – 219 Lee Avenue  – and has kept the same name. Many leaders have served over the years; Hilario C. Lantigua and Juan R. Cordova, Jr. are the currently recognized elders. Rafael Fraden works at this and other Spanish-speaking assemblies in the area. Asamblea Evanglica has commended two workers to the foreign field, and has always had a large youth work. About 35 were in fellowship in 1967, and over 90 adults and young people attend Asamblea Evanglica now.

* * * * * * *

 

The Spanish Gospel Hall in Brooklyn had a gymnasium in its building, where full-time worker Henry Sanchez worked with street youths. He and Paul Bitler in the Bronx brought scores of inner-city children to Pinebush Bible Camp each summer. Paul Bitler and Louis Montalvo also held meetings in a Spanish-speaking section of the Bronx.

* * * * * * *

 

In the 1940s, Louis Montalvo of the Bronx, NY often traveled to a Spanish-American assembly in Lancaster, PA for ministry. The Mexican brethren there brought others from the labor camps to hear the preaching of the Gospel. Many believed before returning to Mexico.

* * * * * * *

 

George and Betty Walker arrived in Miami in 1961, having been expelled from Castro’s Cuba. The brethren in the 29th Street Gospel Hall in Miami offered their building for Spanish work at times it was not in use. Their neighborhood was already 75% Spanish. The offered was accepted and the new Spanish work was begun. Many were saved and an assembly was formed – Sala Evangelica.

 

Later, Mr. and Mrs. Ralph Carter came from Santo Domingo for health reasons and the doors of the Bible Truth Chapel in Miami, on S. W. 7th Street, were opened to Spanish-speaking people. Asamblea Christiana of Miami was formed at that place as a result. James Cochrane of the Dominican Republic, David Adams from Cuba, and J. T. Halliday, among many others, ministered at Asamblea Christiana.

 

Still later a third assembly was begun in the northwest part of the city, meeting at Central Gospel Chapel. Thus, in the 1970s, three Miami assemblies had both English-speaking and Spanish-speaking assemblies meeting on their premises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Questionnaire Responses

Colorado Assemblies on Mountain and Plain, by Robert L. Peterson, 1992

Letters of Interest, December 1945, p. 14; March 1946, p. 21; September 1967, p. 4; July/August 1971, p. 13; June 1976, p.12; November 1976, p.16; March 1978, p. 10; February 1982, p. 6; January 1985, p. 12

Uplook, November 1992, p. 6

 


Portuguese

 

The east-central edge of Rhode Island and parts of adjacent Massachusetts saw a tremendous influx of Portuguese-speaking immigrants in the 1970s. The majority of these were from the Azores, and the rest from Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde, and some from Portugal itself. In 1982, one in seven of Rhode Island’s population, and about 40% of Paw­tucket’s 80,000 people, were Portuguese. About 800,000 Portuguese-speaking people lived then in southeastern New England.

 

In January 1976, Carlos and Margarida Cerqueira came from Angola by way of Portugal to evangelize these people and if possible to plant a Christian testimony in their midst. Cravo Branco was another who came about then. These people had been leaders in Gospel work in Luanda and Benguela in Angola. At the changeover of government in Angola they were obliged to leave, and went to Portugal for a short time. They came to Rhode Island at the suggestion of T. Ernest Wilson, a former missionary to Angola, and with the invitation of John Farrell and the Buttonwoods Gospel Chapel in Warwick, RI.

 

As soon as Mr. Cerqueira was settled, he began knocking on doors. He poured himself into Gospel meetings, home Bible studies, and door-to-door evangelism, all the while supporting his wife and three sons with a full-time factory job. Others came along to help as well. Mr. Cerqueira worked in secular jobs prior to the 1980s, at which time he went into full-time ministry.

 

At that time, the English-speaking Pawtucket Gospel Hall at 400 Lonsdale Avenue, Pawtucket, RI had dwindled down to just a few. These believers graciously allowed Mr. Cerqueira to use their building for the work among the Portuguese-speaking people.

 

In 1977, the Portuguese assemblies in New England and New Jersey held a joint conference for ministry and the preaching of the Gospel, with all meetings in the Portuguese language. Albert Horton and T. Ernest Wilson, both former missionaries in Angola, preached at that conference, held in Pawtucket. The English-speaking assemblies at Buttonwoods, Pawtucket, and Groton, CT helped in practical ways.

 

In 1980, after a few had been saved and a baptism held, a Portuguese-speaking assembly was started in Pawtucket with two converts plus the Cerqueira family of five. It is now known as the Christian Brethren of Pawtucket, or in the Portuguese-speaking community as Igreja Evangelica de Pawtucket.

 

Within a year the growing assembly was in desperate need of a building of its own. Many Christians had a concern for the Igreja Evangelica de Pawtucket Christians, including John Farrell of Buttonwoods, John McCallum of Stewards Foundation, and Robert and Barbara Campbell of the Groton Bible Chapel in Connecticut. The brethren of several English-speaking assemblies met  with the  Portuguese Christians to see if a building could be obtained in Pawtucket.

 

Meetings were being held on Sunday afternoons at the Pawtucket Gospel Hall, but that building was about to be sold. The remaining Christians from the Pawtucket Gospel Hall intended to disburse the pro­ceeds of the sale in various aspects of missionary work. The Hall was 65 years old and needed some remodeling, but it was well constructed, and located in the area where Portuguese immigrants were concentrated. Recognizing the opportunity for assisting this ethnic group, the Gospel Hall Christians made a major reduction in the asking price, and also made a large contribution toward the pur­chase. Three assemblies donated funds toward the purchase. In this way, the Portuguese believers were able to purchase the building, which they occupy at the present time. Other assemblies helped with the remodeling costs. In 1994, an English-speaking ministry was initiated in the assembly, in addition to meetings in the Portugese language.

* * * * * * *

 

For a time, the work among Portugese-speaking people extended also to the town of Bristol, RI as an inner-city type of ministry with preaching to the down-and-outs and supplying clothing. This work was carried on by Francisco Pontes, Antonio Costa, and Wesley Gardner, as well as Mr. Cerqueira. Mr. Gardner later started another assembly on the east side of Narragansett Bay, which lasted only a few years, although they had built a chapel.

* * * * * * *

 

Another Portuguese-language assembly functioned for a time in Harrison, NJ with Candido de Sousa devoting much of his time and energy to building up this testimony. Mr. de Sousa had been a full-time evangelist in Portugal, and was commended to the New Jersey ministry by Bethany Chapel in Yonkers, NY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Questionnaire Responses

Letters of Interest, March 1978, p. 10; February 1982, p. 6

 


Arabic

 

The Middle Eastern Bible Fellowship in Detroit began in March 1991, when a group of men and women of Arabic descent, including Ata and Salwa Mikhael, Raphael and Renee Haddad, and Philipe Yacoub, gathered unto the Lord’s name.

 

Mr. Mikhael, a native Lebanese in association with the brethren in Beirut, and a writer of Christian books, had to leave when the Syrians invaded Lebanon. With his family, he came to Lansing, MI and lived there for three years, during which time he translated Our Daily Bread and The Believer’s Bible Commentary into Arabic. Then he received a call from Arabic believers in Detroit to start a fundamental Arabic ministry in the area.

 

The Mikhael family began commuting from Lansing to Detroit each Sunday, and then moved to Detroit. Soon a nucleus of seven believers were meeting to Remember the Lord. The group first rented a Baptist facility, sharing the building with the existing church. God blessed the work. In 1998, it had grown to as many as 140 adults attending the Sunday morning Gospel service and 85 Breaking Bread. Leaders of the assembly have included Ata G. Mikhael, Raphael Y. Haddad, Philipe Yacoub, and Emad M. Mansoor. All services are in Arabic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Questionnaire Responses

 


Indian (Asia)

 

In 1970, A. K. Varghese came to the United States and to Southwest Bible Chapel in Denver from Karela, India, and was the first of many to follow. Thus began a long relationship between the English-speaking members of Southwest Bible Chapel and brothers and sisters from India. The Abraham George family was welcomed in 1974, then the Thomas’, Daniels’, Matthews’, Kapp’s and others. The Indian believers had some of their own meetings in an Indian language while at Southwest Bible Chapel. In about 1994, some of these families began the Believers Assembly in Denver, meeting in rented quarters and having a special outreach to other Indian families, some of which have been added to their fellowship.

* * * * * * *

 

The Indian Brethren Assembly in the Bronx, NY began in November 1972, meeting in different homes. After May 1973, it shared the facilities of the English-speaking Bronx Gospel Hall at 8909 Teller Avenue for several years. The Indian meeting used the facilities on Sunday afternoons. The assembly moved through several locations in the Bronx and is now at 3241 White Plains Road. Evangelist M.K. Thomas was instrumental in establishing this assembly; others in leadership have included Thomas George, M. Samuel Mathews, Samuel Varghese, and M.S. Mathew. The Malayalam language is used.

* * * * * * *

 

The India Gospel Assembly in Elmont, NY began in 1972, deriving from the Indian Brethren Assembly in the Bronx, NY. Those involved in the start-up were C.V. Simon, Samuel Varghese, and P.T. Mathew. Samuel Varghese, P.T. Mathew, Baby Mathew, and P.T. Johm are in leadership. About 150 adults and youngsters attend the assembly.

* * * * * * *

 

C.V. Baby, with John M.Chacko and a few other believers, started meeting for Bible studies in 1978 in the Chacko’s home in Warren, MI. This led to the formation of the India Believers Gathering. The new assembly met in the Chacko’s home initially, then met in several rented buildings over the years, and in 1997 bought a building at 549 East Marshall, Ferndale. The assembly commended Mr. Baby to the Lord’s work in Agra, India in 1979. Elders have included James Mathew, James Johnson, K.C. Johnson, and K.K. George. The assembly is now known as India Brethren Assembly and uses both English and Malayalam (an Indian language) in its worship.

 

 

 

 

Sources:

Questionnaire Responses

Letters of Interest, February 1975, p. 31


American Indian

 

Arizona is home to more than a half-dozen major Indian tribes and a number of lesser ones. It was to the eastern half of Arizona’s Mohave Country, with its large Indian population, that Mr. and Mrs. James P. Anderson were called to labor. In fellowship with the assembly at the Gospel Auditorium in Oakland, CA, they were commended to work among the Hualapai (formerly spelled ‘Walapai’) Indians of Arizona. These had no missionary working among them, and the superintendent of the reservation had asked that someone come and take charge of the religious work at the Truxton Canyon Indian school, as well as work with the older Indians.

 

The Andersons arrived in October 1916 and lived in Valentine, AZ. From their first Sunday there until the school closed in 1937, the Andersons were given a free hand in teaching the Word to many hundreds of young people who would, in turn, carry the Gospel back to the many tribes they represented. Two meetings in the school on Sundays were supplemented by two more during the week. Various smaller classes were held afternoons. All children were required to attend, and most of the government employees came voluntarily. Saturday afternoons saw the Anderson home overflowing with boys who came together for singing and a Bible lesson. On Sunday afternoons the older girls, many of them promising Christians, gathered for a helpful time with Mrs. Anderson.

 

Seven different tribes were represented at the school, many coming from several hundred miles distant. Some 60 people living in the vicinity of Valentine attended many of the meetings. The Andersons had the joy of hearing a good number confess the Lord each year.

 

The school work was only one phase of the Andersons’ missionary activity. Many hours were spent out in the Indian camps. The Hualapai at that time numbered 600 and during the first year every member of the tribe was personally visited. One tribe, the Havasupai, live at the bottom of the Grand Canyon and to visit them required a horseback ride down a steep 15-mile trail. Not only were the Indians visited in their own camps, but hundreds of them were guests in the Anderson home. In this way the Andersons won the confidence of the Indians.

 

The first conversion occurred about nine months after they came to the reservation – Mrs. Dennis Butler, who with her husband became a faithful helper at Peach Springs Chapel, AZ .

 

Kingman is some 30 miles southwest of Valen­tine. The Kingman Gospel Chapel was started by the Andersons. Their first meetings were out in the Indian camps, but in 1919 James Anderson was able to build a small chapel on the outskirts of Kingman, where they held the meetings for the Indians for a couple of years. They then purchased an old house in Kingman, and rebuilt it for use as a Gos­pel Chapel. But non-Indians who were hungry for the real Gospel started coming to the meetings, and gradually it turned into white work almost altogether. Mr. Anderson ministered the Word there once a week while able to do so. Many others worked at the Chapel; George Baxter and Harold Kesler both preached and worked there when not elsewhere preaching. Tom Carroll also ministered the Word at Kingman, Valentine, and Peach Springs. None of the missionaries working on the reservations received any pay from the Government.

Mrs. Baxter had an Indian women’s meeting on Wednesday afternoons at the Kingman Gospel Chapel. Several missionary women also spent some time working among Indians and Mexi­cans in connection with the Chap­el. Miss Rose Olson spent several years in Kingman, living at the Chapel part of the time, and work­ing with Mexicans and whites. Minnie Armerding also spent her first eight months as an Indian mis­sionary at Valentine and at Kingman. Another fruitful field was the Sherman Institute at Riverside, a training school for Indians, which Mr. Anderson would frequently visit.

 

In 1929 it was necessary to erect an Indian chapel at Peach Springs, 18 miles east of Valentine and the only town on the Hualapai Reservation, due to the fact that the Hualapai had been told to get out of Kingman where they were only squatters, and move up on the Reservation. In 1937 the believers began meeting as an assembly at Peach Springs.

 

In 1937, the Government abandoned the boarding school at Valentine, as it did al­most all other Indian boarding schools, and built day schools on the different reservations; two were built on the Hualapai Reserva­tion. During the school year the Andersons had the same privi­lege of having the students for Christian instruction one hour dur­ing their school time. One school was 50 miles from Valentine; the other was at Peach Springs,. The Andersons traveled 1500 to 2000 miles each month before gasoline and tire rationing came into effect because of World War II.

 

In 1941, Mr. Anderson became ill, and 14 months later the Lord took him home. When he became too ill to work on the reserva­tion, Mr. and Mrs. George Bax­ter took full charge of the work for almost a year. The burden of the work then fell on the shoulders of Mrs. Lillian Anderson. All in the area heard the Gospel, and told representatives of cults who came through that “we know the only way of salvation, and we will accept it when we die.” Before the chief –  Old Spoonhead – of the Havasupai tribe died in about 1950, he told an artist visiting down in the canyon that he had met “the God above” 25 years before, when Mr. Anderson first came down to the canyon.

 

In 1943, about 16 were in fel­lowship at the Kingman Gospel Chapel and the assembly at Peach Springs was all Indian, except for Mrs. Anderson and her daughter, with 10 Indians in fellowship.

 

The Hualapai Indian tribe consisted of approximately 500 Indians on the reservations in 1947, a decrease in population from the Anderson’s first arrival if the census was correct. At that time, A. LeRoy Livingston worked among the Hualapai and lived at Peach Springs. The U.S. had a good schooling program, so the Livingstons were able to reach them in English, albeit in a very simple form. The older people of the tribe were quite reluctant to let the children go to school, so it was a problem to try to keep them from their primitive methods or nature. The Livingstons were conscientious to keep the assembly geared to the Indians, and just one white school teacher met with them to Remember the Lord at the Peach Springs Chapel.

 

In 1952, the assembly at Peach Springs still remained but was small. During World War II and the Korean war, many Hualapai boys from Peach Springs went overseas and their chaplains wrote Mrs. Anderson commenting on their Christian testimony and knowledge of the Word. In 1957, Mrs. Anderson was still carrying on the work started by herself and her husband.

 

Faithful Indian converts included Rupert and Rachel Parker, both Sunday school teachers; Grant Tapiaga, the Hualapai preacher, and his Apache wife, Fanny; and the Tomanatas, a four-generation Christian family.

* * * * * * *

 

In 1951, Mr. and Mrs. George Baxter, commended by Midland Assembly in Detroit (later Pembroke), started the Arizona Indian Mission of Flagstaff, Arizona. They labored alone for several years; then the Eldon Miners came to help them. Later Joseph Paulick, com­mended from Norwood Gospel Chapel in Chicago, and Miss Betty Hollman, com­mended from New Haven Gospel Hall of Hamden, CT, came to help.

 

In June 1952, George Baxter conducted two youth camps with boys and girls in attendance from Hopi, Navajo, Hualapai, and Supi tribes. The Navajo adult camp which followed was well attended, with several people saved.

 

The Baxters and co-workers were urged by the new Indian believers in Flagstaff to go to their tribal relatives on the reservation with the Gospel message. At Shonto the Indians asked for a meeting place for their services. This was accomplished in July 1958, and in August 1960, the Navajo tribe gave a permit for a grant of land at Shonto.

 

Messrs. Baxter and Paulick erected the Third Avenue Gospel Chapel in Flagstaff, AZ. The workers and native believers meet regularly for the Breaking of Bread, preaching of the Word, Bible study and Sunday School. The meeting continues today.

* * * * * * *

 

For a time, there were three missions in Arizona that went by the name of Immanuel Mission. The work at Valentine was called the Immanuel Mission to the Hualapais. The work at Winslow, 200 miles east of Valentine, also went by the name Immanuel Mission. This work was initiated principally by Carl Armerding and his daughter Minnie. They labored among the In­dians at Winslow and vicinity for more than 25 years. Mr. Armerding built a chapel at Winslow in 1934, which had Gospel meetings, Bible studies, and Sunday schools, attended largely by Indians of the Laguna, Hopi, and Navajo tribes. Mr. Armerding was still active in the work in his 91st year in 1952.

 

Those two ‘Immanuel Missions’ have evolved into other works. Still going strong is the Immanuel Mission to the Navajos, near Teec Nos Pos in the northeast corner of Arizona. Though these three missions were separated each from the other by about 200 miles, their aims and interests were the same: the winning of precious souls from among the Indian tribes of the Southwest.

* * * * * * *

 

The rapid growth of the Navajo peoples in the early 1900s caught the attention of Anglo merchants who responded by building a series of Trading Posts across Navajoland. By 1932, the population of the Navajo tribe had grown to over 60,000 people, and the tribe had over 1.5 million sheep. The Federal Government encouraged mission societies to establish mission stations in order to help educate and introduce change into the culture. Nevertheless, the Navajos were poor and unhealthy. One half of all Navajo children died by the age of five.

 

The early story of Immanuel Mission at Teec Nos Pos is the story of a remarkable family – the Holcombs. Horace A. Holcomb was born in 1852, and in 1889 entered Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. He was ordained in the Congregational Church and spent several years as a pastor in Minnesota. Clara Elizabeth Holcomb was born to Horace and his wife Mary in Lansing, MI in 1883. Marie Holcomb, the seventh child, was  born  in Kearney, Nebraska in 1900 where Horace was then serving with the Gospel Missionary Union (GMU).

 

The 26 year old Clara and another young woman spent three years on the Navajo reservation from 1909 to 1911 near Tuba City, AZ, probably serving with GMU. They lived with a Navajo family, where Clara learned to speak Navajo. From 1912 to 1915, Horace and Mary also served in the same area at a small mission called Kin Ligai near Moenkopi, AZ. Flagstaff, the nearest Anglo settlement, was three days away by horseback.

 

In 1915, Horace, Mary, and Clara went to serve with Harry Ironside at his Indian School in Oakland, CA. Four students are remembered at the school during this period – a Navajo, two Hopis, and a Hualapai.

 

Horace and Clara continued to have a burden for the Navajo people and worked and prayed about establishing a mission. Finally in 1920 the Holcombs felt the Lord’s timing had arrived and they traveled to Oakcreek Canyon to visit their daughter Marie, who had lived with the Girdner family to attend school and now was teaching there.

 

Mary Holcomb was ill and stayed with the Girdners while Horace and Clara returned to Flagstaff. There they bought a wagon and team and supplies and headed out across the uncharted desert for Chinle, AZ, 200 miles away. In July 1921, they met up with Carl Armerding at Ganado and traveled on together towards Chinle. There the Holcombs and Carl stayed with a Christian Navajo family – the Gormans – for a time.

 

Mr. Armerding returned to Albuquerque while the Holcombs stayed on at Chinle throughout the fall. They heard of an abandoned trading post – Peter Martin’s Trading Store – sixty miles or so to the North. Clara and her father drove the wagon up to take a look. The abandoned trading post was situated on a small rise in a wide treeless valley. The building was solidly built of sandstone and adobe, approximately 10' x 30' with two rooms and with a flat roof. It did have one important amenity: Upper Saltbush Spring was located about 200 hundred feet to the north. In December 1921, Horace sought help from the Department of the Interior for petitioning for the property.

 

The Holcomb family then returned to Flagstaff to outfit an expedition back to Peter Martin’s store. Sometime in the late spring of 1922, Horace, Mary, and Clara Holcomb set off in a covered wagon from Flagstaff for Peter Martin’s store, the future site of Immanuel Mission. Horace had just turned 70. Their privations were many, including some days without water.

 

Soon after arriving at Peter Martin’s store, Horace attempted to get a land petition signed by the local Navajos. Carl Armerding came to help, and he and Horace built a shade house and invited the community over for a ‘big feed.’ After the meal, they brought up the idea of starting a mission. Things seemed to go well until ‘Brown Hat,’ a local Headman, refused to give his permission. The meeting soon broke up – a failure – much to the disappointment of the Holcombs. Thus in 1922, the local Navajos had not given the missionaries permission to establish a misison on the reservation, though the missionaries were able to live there.

 

However, in January 1924, the Government superintendent and his wife, with a Presbyterian missionary from Shiprock, and Mr. Deshney, an Indian interpreter, and several Indians came to the missionaries’ home. Brown Hat and a friend then arrived. After much persuasion and silent prayer, the old man acquiesced, and the old Peter Martin’s Trading Store near Teec Nos Pos became Immanuel Mission.

 

The early years were filled with hardship and discouragement. A devastating fire broke out in June 1923 in the midst of a terrible sandstorm. The living quarters were nearly destroyed. Wagon, saddles, bridles, harness, tent and everything in it, grain, wood  pile, chickens and chicken house, scales, and alfalfa were gone. The group rebuilt the house in seven weeks while staying at a trader’s store.

 

In December 1924, another disaster struck the mission. A mighty wind blew the roof off, letting in sand and snow. Temperatures were below zero. The workers stayed in the cow shed for six days and nights, seven in one little room with no chance to undress and go to bed decently, while some Navajos repaired the roof.

 

Florence Barker came to help in the fall of 1922, and since then a steady stream of workers have come to the Mission. Howard Montgomery and his wife came in 1942. After the Holcombs had gone to be with the Lord, Clara Holcomb passing on in 1947, Howard Montgomery assumed full responsibility for the work. He at once began the study of the Navajo language, realizing the absolute need of doing so.

 

For years the program consisted mainly of work with the adult Navajos. This took the form of visitation, Gospel meetings, simple medical aid, letter writing, distributing used clothing to needy families, and helping with problems connected with finding off-reservation work. This work that was carried on by Mrs. Helen Montgomery, Ben and Virginia Staley, and by an elderly Navajo couple, Eugene and Martha Natatches.

 

The Navajos did not get the New Testament in their own language until 1957, and a modern school system on the reservation was not started until 1956. The Navajo people numbered nearly 130,000 in 1970. While some of the Navajo people reside in towns, by far the great majority still are in small family groups scattered over the reservation. And while there are some public schools and Bureau of Indian Affairs schools that are able to make use of buses, most of the children must live in dormitories away from home in order to get an education. The school at Immanuel Mission is in the latter class.

 

The school that the workers had prayed much about starting, was begun in the fall of 1948. It took children from broken homes. Several stayed there all the time, while others came daily from nearby homes. Miss Evelyn Varder from Chicago had the main responsibility for the school. She had the help of Ruth Valentine of Chicago. Howard Montgomery gave a Bible lesson and Gospel message in Navajo each morning except Saturday. Sunday school was held for the children each Lord’s Day afternoon. A number of children have taken the Lord Jesus into their lives, and some continue as adults to Remember the Lord on Sunday mornings with the staff and Christian Navajo neighbors.

 

In 1957, the laborers included Mr. and Mrs. Howard Montgomery, Miss Evelyn Varder, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Perrault, Miss Alice Huff, and Miss Lois Jean De­laney. Robert Staley has served as principal of the school. In 1971, Don and Nona Perrault cared for over thirty girls. Delbert and June Dyck looked after nearly the same number of boys in the large, two-winged dormitory building. These children live at the mission for the nine-month school term and are under the complete care of the dormitory parents, so the responsibility is great not only for their spiritual well being, but also for their physical needs.

 

Navajo Immanuel Chapel at Immanuel Mission began as a regularly meeting assembly in the early 1970s. The principal people involved in starting the assembly were Eugene Nataches and James Nataches, Navajo brothers. Leadership has been shared by these and Willy Howe, Wesley Begay, Donald Perrault, and Greg Staley. About 90 adults and children attend Navajo Immanuel Chapel, which is now usually called Immanuel Navajo Chapel.

 

The physical facilities of the mission have grown to several major buildings, a power plant, a shop building, and two house trailers. The compound is located fourteen miles from the nearest hard-surfaced road and twenty miles from the nearest power lines, so all electricity is generated on the grounds. The nearest town of any business importance is Farmington, NM, ninety miles away, and it is from there that practically all supplies must be brought in.

 

 

 

Sources:

A Brief History of Immanuel Mission, by Greg Staley; Issue 7, Winter 1995; Issue 8,  Spring 1995; Issue 10,  Spring 1996; Issue 11,  Fall 1996; Issue 12, Spring 1997; Issue 13, Fall 1997

Letters of Interest, August 1943, p. 23; March 1946, p. 21; December 1947 p. 26; December 1948, p. 10; May 1952, p. 19; August 1952, p. 8; September 1952, p. 4; February 1957, p. 11; February 1962, p. 11; March 1971 p. 4?


Italian

 

The majority of the following information about the Italian-speaking assemblies comes from the final issue of La Voce Nel Deserto and from personal correspondence with Mr. Michael Rannelli, the co-editor of that magazine. In some of what follows, I use Mr. Rannelli’s own words. Others have also supplied information about the Italian work.

 

In the days of significant immigration of Italians to North America, Gospel work in Italian was carried on in many places. Many of the immigrant Italians were in happy fellowship in English-speaking assemblies. Although small Italian assemblies in the U.S. existed before 1900, the real expansion of the Italian work in the United States and Canada began in about 1918.

 

The work among Italians in the United States seems to have started in 1893 in Hoboken, NJ, when a few Italian immigrants met for the first time to Remember the Lord in the Breaking of Bread and to preach the Gospel. One of the first saved was Michael Lisa. A few Italian believers met in his home and were taught by Geremia di Georgio, who had emigrated from Alexandria, Egypt and met with an ‘exclusive’ English-speaking assembly in Jersey City, NJ.

 

Through the testimony of Mr. Lisa and Mr. di Georgio, P. Conforte of Brooklyn, NY was converted and soon a small assembly met in his home. Some members of a Baptist Church who became dissatisfied with their association joined with them. Thus, the two first known Italian assemblies were established in Hoboken and Brooklyn, and were ‘exclusive.’ Mr. Lisa and Mr. di Georgio helped both assemblies while laboring daily to meet their own temporal needs.

 

In 1908 the Lord saved another Italian immigrant named Cesare Patrizio in Philadelphia, PA while he read the Bible. He associated with an assembly in the city, and requested of the elders that he be baptized, but they hesitated. He said, “If you do not baptize me, I’m going to go home and fill my bathtub and I’ll baptize myself.” The elders then agreed to baptize him. Mr. Patrizio became one of the most gifted teachers and evangelists in the U.S. Italian-speaking assemblies; he labored among them all. In 1918, he was commended for full-time service in the Lord’s work by the brethren of the Bryn Mawr Assembly in Philadelphia. His first Gospel effort was jointly with H.A. Cameron in Waterbury, CT where for 13 weeks in the summer of 1918 they preached in a Gospel tent.

 

In that same year, 1918, Mr. Patrizio went to the Loizeaux Brothers Publishing House in New York City to meet Timothy Loizeaux. After questioning, Mr. Loizeaux offered him all the tracts he wanted, free, and gave him the address of the Italian assembly in Hoboken. Until this time, Mr. Patrizio was not aware of any Italian-speaking assemblies.

 

He soon met the Italian believers at Hoboken, but when he learned that they had ‘exclusive’ views, did not join with them. However, in the fall of 1919, Mr. Patrizio received a postal card inviting him to a Columbus Day Conference to be held in Hoboken. When he arrived he realized that he was among the same group he had visited the year previously. E. Fiorella  recognized Cesare Patrizio and asked him to come to the platform to give them a word of exhortation, which he did. Some whom he met at this first Italian-speaking conference, and who later were to play an important part in the work of the Lord among the Italians in North America, were Joseph De Carlo, Frank P. Diorio, J. Compitello, and Constantino Giordano.

 

F. P. Diorio had been a nominal member of a Presbyterian church. When he heard a servant of the Lord minister on the Church and other Biblical truths, he severed his connections with his church, together with a few others like minded, and they started to meet in his home. In 1903 they rented a store on Mott Street in the Italian section of New York City and started to Remember the Lord each first day of the week. In the after­noons they would go to a park near Mulberry St. and preach the Gospel. The believers carried on this testimony for several years. It was not until July 1919 that Mr. Diorio heard of the Italian believers in Hoboken and Brooklyn. Then he visited the Brooklyn assembly and because he lived in Brooklyn he united with them. F. Diorio suggested that they hold a con­ference on Columbus Day; it was to this conference that Mr. Patrizio was in­vited.

 

Mr. Diorio recognized the scarcity of sound Italian literature and decided to print a magazine called Il Seminatore, later named La Voce Nel Deserto. The first issue was printed in July 1919. The magazine served well to bind the Italian believers together.

 

He next organized a three-day conference over the Memorial Day weekend of 1920, which was held in the Mariner’s Temple in New York City. Those who took part were C. Patrizio, F. P. Diorio, J. Compitello, E. Fiorella, and P. Bartolomeo. Ralph West, who took the Sunday School, was the only English speaker. It was at the last day of this conference that Nunzio Pizzulli was saved.

 

Louis (Luigi) Rosania was born in Calitri, Italy in 1895 and emigrated to the United States when fifteen years old. In 1916 he was living in Newark, NJ where he met a young man who invited him to the English-speaking Newark Gospel Hall and it was there that he was saved. Later he moved to Waterbury, CT where he opened a tailor shop. The Italian believers in Waterbury were meeting then with the English-speaking assembly at the Waterbury Gospel Hall. But Mr. Rosania was exercised as to full time service among Italians and sold his tailor shop. In February 1921 he was commended to the work of the Lord and became a co-worker with Cesare Patrizio. Though he continued to live in Waterbury, like Patrizio his ministry extended to the Italians wherever they were.

 

In 1919, a young man named Rocco Cappiello was invited to some Gospel meetings in Waterbury, CT. The first time Mr. Cappiello went, he was so impressed with what he heard from the Bible that he told others there that he was going to get himself a Bible even if he had to steal one. After the meeting the believers gave him a Bible which he embraced as if someone had given him a bag of gold. He was soon saved.

 

In 1924 the Italian believers in Waterbury rented a hall to have meetings in Italian but continued to Remember the Lord with the English-speaking assembly. In December 1928 they started to Remember the Lord for the first time in Italian. In August 1944 they purchased their own Gospel Hall. The assembly had a two-day conference every Labor Day. Annual conferences were also held in the Italian assemblies in Boston and Methuen, MA, and Hartford, CT.

 

In August 1921, Messrs. Patrizio and Rosania pitched a tent in an Italian section of Philadelphia. This section had a bad reputation, and they had to sleep in the tent at night to keep the tent from being destroyed or burned, but the Lord protected them. Matthew Brescia was saved then and led his brother George to the Lord. This was the year that the Italian-speaking assembly in Philadelphia began. Matt Brescia invited a friend, Cesare Illuminati, to the tent meetings. Illuminati was a staunch socialist and agnostic. Mr. Illuminati came on the night that Mr. Patrizio preached on the Prodigal Son, and Mr. Illuminati wondered who had told the preacher all about him. A few days later, he confessed salvation, and a little later his wife also was saved.

 

In Orange, NJ, an English-speaking assembly had rented a store in the Italian section to get an Italian work started. The work was extremely difficult and they were able to get only a few out to the meetings. In 1921, Rocco Cappiello moved to Orange and found a room in the home of the in-laws of Salvatore Iatesta. Mr. Iatesta saw the new boarder reading a book and asked what he was reading. Mr. Cappiello told him it was the Bible, God’s Word. Mr. Iatesta was gloriously saved.

 

Mr. Cappiello called for two of his brothers from Italy, and the Lord saved them. He met Joseph Rannelli who soon accepted Christ. Others were saved and started witnessing. Mr. Cappiello recruited Vito Soccurto of Waterbury, CT to help at Orange, and asked Louis Rosania to come over. As souls were saved they joined with the English-speaking assembly at Orange until 1922, when they met together to Remember the Lord in Italian for the first time.

 

Five local pastors visited their rented store front building during a prayer meeting. Afterward, one of them said they were happy to see how the Lord was working and blessing the work and suggested that the Italians might like to join with one or another of their churches. Joseph Rannelli thanked them and said that because they were saved recently through reading God’s Word, they would continue to study God’s Word, and if it led them to join any of these churches they would do so. But God’s Word led them to continue to meet in the Name of the Lord alone. Two years later they held their annual conference on Memorial Day weekend, which continued yearly until World War II forced them to discontinue it.

 

The assembly at Orange prospered and in June 1955 purchased its own building, called the Clinton Street East Orange Assembly. In 1984, the Orange assembly purchased eight acres of land in Livingston, NJ and built the Livingston Gospel Hall. By that time, the assembly was using English as its language for the meetings.

 

Nunzio Pizzulli at first fellowshipped with the Italian assembly in Brooklyn. Later he moved his family to Long Branch and became identified with the Asbury Park English-speaking assembly. Joseph De Carlo of Brooklyn visited the Pizzulli family to encourage them and help Nunzio Pizzulli in the per­sonal work he was doing for the Lord in Long Branch. In 1925, four believers started to meet in the home of Mr. Pizzulli to Break Bread. In 1927 the assembly had grown to about 30 believers so they rented an upper room at Branchport Avenue. In 1928, C. Patrizio and L. Rosania erected their tent in the town and others were saved. The assembly erected the Long Branch Gospel Hall on Art Street and formally opened it in August 1932.

 

After the Italian assembly in Long Branch was started, Frank Pizzulli, the son of Nunzio, became active in children’s and young people’s work and started a large Sunday School. In June 1938, he was commended by the Long Branch assembly for full-time service.

 

Another servant of the Lord who played an important part in the formation of Italian assemblies was Francis Carboni. He heard the Gospel preached for the first time by Frank Diorio and Mr. Compitello in a little store that these brethren had rented for meetings in Dumont, NJ. Mr. Carboni was commended to the Lord’s work by the assembly at Tenafly Hall in New Jersey and by the Italian-speaking assemblies.

 

Francis Carboni labored much in the Hackensack and Lodi, NJ areas and saw an assembly established in Hackensack. He encouraged Frank Pizzulli of Long Branch to go into full time service and they joined hands in East Boston, MA and also in Mechanicville, NY and were helpful in forming assemblies in these two cities. Mr. Carboni and G.G. Johnston pitched their Gospel tent in Sault Ste Marie, Ontario in the summer of 1945, and visited other cities in Canada. But Mr. Carboni had developed a burden for Italy and prayed for an open door for the Gospel there. In 1946, the Lord granted his desire, and Francis Carboni visited Italy and spent nine months preaching the Gospel there with much fruit and encouragement.

 

He later labored in Sicily, with the full blessing of the Italian brethren in the U.S. The Orange assembly sent a bounty of gifts for the furbishing of a home for missionaries that he had established there. Blessings were evident immediately, many souls being saved and some assemblies established in Sicily.

 

The Gospel tents were the means of spreading the Gospel among the Italians and were very successful. Gospel tents were set up in Italian districts every year. They were set up after Memorial Day and were taken down by Labor Day. A store would then be rented, which would become the beginning of an Italian assembly. This happened almost every year.

 

The Lord blessed the Italian work with the diversity of gifts needed to sus­tain such a work. Rocco Cappiello was one who could endure the hardness necessary in breaking up new ground. He was not a platform man but a great personal worker and tract distributor. It was most natural for Louis Rosania to follow him. Mr. Rosania was the exceptionally gifted personal worker and evangelist. Cesare Patrizio challenged the believers by emphasizing their new position in Christ; he had a very practical ministry. Francis Carboni and Frank Pizzulli were the biblical expositors of the Italian assem­blies; they unfolded the scriptures as to the person of Christ and other doctrinal truths.

 

Some of the most gifted Italian teachers were called home in the prime of their usefulness. Constantino Giordano of Hoboken, one of the early leaders in the work, died at age 39. Romeo Torrone of Philadelphia and Joseph De Carlo of Brooklyn had exceptional teaching gifts; Mr. Torrone was called home in December 1941 at age 50, and Mr. De Carlo died in July 1950 at age 54. George Brescia was called home in October 1951 when 46 years old. Frank Pizzulli was taken home in November 1960 at the age of 51. In May 1959, the Lord took Louis Rosania to be with Himself at age 64.

 

By 1952, the following cities had Italian-speaking assemblies, some having over 100 in fellowship and some with less than 25:

New Jersey:  Orange, Long Branch, Hoboken, Jersey City, Hackensack

New York:  South Brooklyn, Greenpoint Brooklyn, New Rochelle, Mechanicville, Poughkeepsie Connecticut:  Hartford, Waterbury, Bristol, Danbury, New Haven

Massachusetts:  East Boston, Methuen, Worcester, Springfield

Pennsylvania:  Philadelphia

Michigan:  Detroit

Ontario, Canada:  Toronto and Sault Ste Marie.

 

Thus in 1952, there were Italian-speaking assemblies in 23 cities on the continent. Today there are no assemblies on the continent which use Italian for their services, though there are many assemblies composed primarily of people of Italian descent.

 

Now we turn to the history of specific Italian-speaking assemblies, many of which have already been mentioned.

 

Hoboken, NJ  This was the first Italian assembly established in the United States. In 1941, the Hoboken Assembly purchased their own hall on Bloomfield and Seventh St.

 

Jersey City, NJ  The assembly was started here in March 1942 by families that belonged to the Hoboken assembly. Most of the believers in that assembly lived in Jersey City and wanted a testimony in their neighborhood. They purchased their own Jersey City Gospel Hall on Paterson Plank Road in 1946.

 

Red Bank, NJ  Frank Pizzulli had tent meetings in Red Bank, but no Italian-speaking assembly was established. The few believers went to the Long Branch Assembly.

 

Danbury, CT  When R. Cappiello was commended to full time service for the work of the Lord he moved to Danbury in November 1926. He started visitation work with encouraging results. In 1927, L. Rosania came to help and in 1928 a small store was rented and the Danbury Assembly met for the first time. The assembly moved into larger quarters later, but was still called small in 1946 when F. Pizzuli labored there.

 

Hartford, CT  Through Anthony Barbati, the seed of the Gospel was carried to Hartford. Several Italians were interested, so Messrs. Patrizio and Rosania pitched their tent in the summer of 1927. In August six believers were baptized. In 1931 the Hartford Italian Assembly met for the first time in the home of Joseph De Luca. When George and Matthew Brescia moved to this city there was a revival. After meeting in rented quarters for many years they purchased their own building, which was opened June 1946.

 

Bristol, CT  In 1928 Anthony Barbati moved from Hartford to Bristol and through his testimony many became interested and were saved. Mr. Patrizio visited Bristol for Gospel meetings and others were saved. In April 1929, the assembly gathered for the first time to Remember the Lord. The assembly continued to prosper and built their own Bristol Gospel Hall, which was opened in September 1944. About 30 were in fellowship in 1946.

 

New Haven, CT  R. Cappiello began the Italian work in New Haven in about 1940. In 1945, some 13 were in fellowship in the Italian New Haven Assembly.

 

Poughkeepsie, NY  A. Correnti moved to this city and started to sow the good seed of the Gospel. R. Cappiello and others helped and interest was aroused. In June 1933 the Italian Assembly of Poughkeepsie was opened.

 

New Rochelle, NY  The work in this city was started by two Italian brethren who were in fellowship with the Yonkers, NY assembly. With the cooperation of brethren from the Brooklyn assembly, they started having open-air meetings. In July 1933 the Gospel tent was pitched by Messrs. Patrizio and Rosania, and in September 1933 the Italian New Rochelle Assembly started.

 

South Brooklyn, NY  Frank Diorio started meetings once a week in the home of V. De Filippis in South Brooklyn. Soon other believers joined with them, and several others were saved and baptized. In March 1934 an assembly was started at 565 5th Avenue. The assembly later purchased their own building at 17 E. 7th Street, Brooklyn. L. Montalvo of Puerto Rico learned to speak the Italian language acceptably and helped various assemblies when he came to the U.S. He was later commended to the Lord’s work among the Spanish speaking population of New York City and Brooklyn by the South Brooklyn Italian Assembly.

 

Mechanicville, NY  The work here started as a result of some servicemen returning from World War II, who had found Christ and were dissatisfied with their former association with the Pentecostal Church. One of the servicemen, Andy Marinello, began a Bible study in his parent’s home. At the same time, an invitation was given to Louis Capeci to come to a series of Gospel meetings led by the Canadian evangelist Mun Hope at the English-speaking Albany Gospel Hall in March of 1945. Louis Capeci was the first of many Italians who would come to know Christ through Mun Hope’s efforts.

 

Once saved, Mr. Capeci took carloads of his extended family and friends to the Gospel meetings. These new believers then began to attend the Bible study started by Andy Marinello, which was moved to the home of Giuseppe Laurenzo. A number of Mr. Laurenzo’s adult children came to Christ as a result of Mr. Hope’s work that March.

 

Mun Hope was asked to return to Mechanicville late in the summer of 1945, which he did, staying for six to eight weeks, helping with the Bible study of 30 to 40 believers, most of whom were newly saved. In these early months, Mechanicville’s Italian believers attended Albany Gospel Hall on Sundays. Seeing so many believers of Italian descent, Mun Hope wrote to Frank Pizzulli and Louis Rosania, asking them to come and take his place in the work at Mechanicville. Before he left, Mun Hope gave F. Pizzulli and L. Rosania all the money he had received from the Italian believers in Mechanicville.

 

Messrs. Pizzulli and Rosania pitched their tent in Mechanicville in the summer of 1946 and blessings were seen. At first the adversary raged. The Chief of Police together with the local priest ordered the property owner to have the tent removed from his property. When the Lord opened another location for the tent, the Chief of Police ordered that no tracts or leaflets could be distributed. The brethren were not discouraged and patiently went to the State Capital in Albany, and the Attorney General had the de­cision reversed. Mr. Pizzulli rented the Masonic Temple every Lord’s Day eve­ning for Gospel meetings, and the believers met in homes for Bible study during the week. Some Broke Bread in Albany and some in Schenectady. In 1946, some 20 Italian believers were in fellowship in the Albany Gospel Hall. The believers met in assembly capacity for the first time in Mechanicville the first Sunday of December 1946. By January of 1947, there was a group of about 36 in fellowship. The believers started building their own hall in the summer of 1948, and the Mechanicville Gospel Hall was opened in February 1949.

 

Bronx, NY  Louis Rosania preached twice a week in Italian at the English-speaking Bronx Gospel Hall on 162nd St. and Teller Avenue in 1945. Frank Pizzulli did door-to-door visitation there in 1946. Mr. Rosania had a baptismal service for some Italian believers in fellowship with the English brethren in the Bronx, but no Italian-speaking assembly was established in the Bronx.

 

Methuen, MA  While gospeling in this city, R. Cappiello came in contact with the Carlo Cavallero family, who had been in the assemblies of Italy but were now associated with a denominational church. After some visitation ground work by Mr. Cappiello, the Cavalleros requested Messrs. Patrizio and Rosania to pitch their Gospel tent in the summer of 1935.  In August 1936 the tent was erected by F. Carboni and G. Johnston. The Italian Methuen Assembly was opened in January 1937, and a hall was built and opened in March 1942.

 

East Boston, MA  While R. Cappiello was visiting villages in the vicinity of Boston he met Frank Procopio Sr. who was interested in seeing a work develop among the Italians of East Boston. Some from the Methuen assembly assisted. In the early part of 1939, they started to have meetings in a home. In July, F. Piz­zulli and F. Carboni visited East Boston and pitched their Gospel tent, and did so again the next summer. An Italian assembly was established in May 1941. They built their own East Boston Gospel Hall, which was opened in December 1945; an addition was built in 1964.

 

Worcester, MA  R. Cappiello moved to this city so that he could better reach the people and started his usual house-to-house visitation. In July 1938, the Italian Worcester Assembly was opened.

 

Springfield, MA  Various brethren had visited Springfield since 1937. In the summer of 1939, C. Patrizio and L. Rosania pitched their tent there. In November 1942, the Italian Springfield Assembly was established.

 

Detroit, MI  H.A. Cameron moved to Detroit after laboring among the Italians with Cesare Patrizio in Waterbury. A few Italians were in fellowship at Central Gospel Hall in Detroit. Mr. Cameron invited Messrs. Patrizio and Rosania to come, and they pitched their tent on Grandy Avenue in 1931. A store was rented nearby and in November an Italian-speaking assembly was formed. The store became inadequate and in 1938 the assembly purchased a cottage which was converted into a hall into which they moved in Septem­ber 1938. The assembly continued at that location until 1949, when they purchased the old East Side Gospel Hall in Detroit. After that  another building was built at Pinewood Avenue and Schoenherr Road. Most of the Italian believers later scattered to various English-speaking assemblies throughout the city.

 

Toronto, Ontario, Canada  Many Italian immigrants came to Toronto, necessitating a more definite work among them. In 1937 F. Carboni and G. G. Johnston pitched a tent there. C. Patrizio labored there from house to house for several years. The Italian Toronto Assembly eventually purchased their own hall. Mr. Johnston learned the Italian language and labored acceptably for many years among the Italians with blessings.

 

Sault Ste Marie, Ontario, Canada  Some Italians were received into the English assembly as early as 1927. In 1934, L. Rosania had special gospel meetings for two months. Carboni also visited in 1937 for special meetings. The Italian believers continued to fellowship with the English assembly.

 

Vancouver, BC, Canada  A British businessman, William S. Hall, arrived from Italy at the close of 1912. Being fluent in Italian, he contacted Italians in Vancouver and various places in the Fraser Valley. In 1917, two Zarelli brothers were converted in Vancouver. In 1919 the witness spread to Victoria, BC where there was a group of about 20 Italian Victoria Assembly believers by 1925. The Italian Vancouver Assembly met for the first time in Vancouver in 1933. In 1952, the assembly there consisted of about 30 members. The assembly sent many thousands of dollars to Italy for the Lord’s work and supplied hundreds of thousands of tracts, hundreds of Bibles, New Testaments, and various booklets. Supplied with an old press, an Italian brother in Vancouver ran off tracts in Italian after his day’s work, many of them written by Hall.

 

Hall commenced an aggressive itinerating witness in 1925, covering Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and part of Northern California. A partial coverage was also made of Ontario and Quebec. In a few places the number of Italian converts was large. As Italians were saved, cottage meetings were begun in homes.

 

By 1932, through the visits by Hall, many in the Portland area had been saved, including three families at Linnton, a suburb. The Corkums devoted their efforts to shepherding the little Italian assembly begun that summer. Cheered by Will Hall’s steadfast example, the Linnton Gospel Hall stubbornly weathered difficult years. It became for the most part an English-speaking assembly with a flourishing Sunday school. Linnton well demonstrated the feasibility of a gradual development of an Italian assembly into an English-speaking assembly where there is little new immigration of those speaking only Italian.

 

Monterey, CA  A few Italian believers met together in Monterey in 1933. The next year the group became established as an assembly, and in the following year three of the members built the Monterey Gospel Hall. In the 1930s the salvation message was broadcast in Italian from radio stations at Monterey and Oakland in California; Portland, Oregon; Tacoma, and Seattle in Washington; Vancouver and Trail in British Columbia; Lethbridge, Calgary, and Edmonton in Alberta; and Winnipeg, Manitoba.

 

A work so evidently of the Lord is the special target of Satan. The end of the Italian work as a united effort came in 1958 when some of the leaders of the Italian work, along with some of the assemblies, broke fellowship with one another.

 

In 1968, the Albany Gospel Hall, Mechanicville Gospel Hall, and Becker Street Gospel Chapel in Schenectady, all in the same general area, joined to become the English-speaking Northway Bible Chapel in Clifton Park, NY.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

La Voce Nel Deserto (The Voice in the Wilderness), October 1965, p. 10, by M. Rannelli

Letters of Interest, November 1945, p. 15; March 1946, p. 20; November 1946, p. 19; July 1952, p.18

 


Index

 

116th Street Assembly in New York City...................................................................................................................................... 6

29th Street Gospel Hall in Miami.................................................................................................................................................... 7

Albany Gospel Hall, NY..................................................................................................................................................... 24, 25, 27

Arizona Avenue Gospel Hall in East Los Angeles...................................................................................................................... 4

Asamblea Christiana of Miami........................................................................................................................................................ 7

Asamblea Evangelica, Grand Rapids, MI...................................................................................................................................... 6

Asamblea Evanglica, Brooklyn, NY............................................................................................................................................... 7

Avenue 54 Bible Chapel in Los Angeles...................................................................................................................................... 5

Becker Street Gospel Chapel, Schenectady, NY........................................................................................................................ 27

Believers Assembly in Denver..................................................................................................................................................... 12

Bethany Chapel, Yonkers, NY...................................................................................................................................................... 10

Bible Truth Chapel in Miami........................................................................................................................................................... 7

Bristol Gospel Hall, CT................................................................................................................................................................... 24

Bronx Gospel Hall in New York City...................................................................................................................................... 12, 25

Bryn Mawr Assembly in Philadelphia......................................................................................................................................... 19

Buttonwoods Gospel Chapel, Warwick, RI.................................................................................................................................. 9

Capilla Evangelica in New York City.............................................................................................................................................. 6

Central Gospel Chapel in Miami..................................................................................................................................................... 8

Central Gospel Hall in Detroit....................................................................................................................................................... 26

Christian Brethren of Pawtucket, RI............................................................................................................................................... 9

Clinton Street East Orange Assembly, NJ.................................................................................................................................. 21

Clovis Gospel Chapel, NM.............................................................................................................................................................. 3

Danbury Assembly, CT................................................................................................................................................................. 23

East Boston Gospel Hall, MA....................................................................................................................................................... 25

East Side Gospel Hall in Detroit.................................................................................................................................................... 26

El Monte Assembly, CA.................................................................................................................................................................. 5

Evergreen Gospel Chapel, Brooklyn, NY...................................................................................................................................... 7

Glendale Gospel Chapel, CA........................................................................................................................................................... 6

Gospel Auditorium, Oakland, CA................................................................................................................................................. 13

Groton Bible Chapel, CT.................................................................................................................................................................. 9

Hartford Italian Assembly, CT...................................................................................................................................................... 23

Hoboken Assembly, NJ................................................................................................................................................................. 23

Iglesia Cristiana de Westminster, CA............................................................................................................................................ 5

Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica, Glendale, CA................................................................................................................................... 6

Iglesia Cristiana Evangelica, Houston, TX............................................................................................................................... 2, 3

Iglesia Evangelica de Highland Park in Los Angeles.................................................................................................................. 5

Igreja Evangelica de Pawtucket, RI................................................................................................................................................ 9

India Believers Gathering, Warren, MI........................................................................................................................................ 12

India Brethren Assembly, Warren, MI........................................................................................................................................ 12

India Gospel Assembly, Elmont, NY............................................................................................................................................ 12

Indian Brethren Assembly in New York City............................................................................................................................. 12

Italian Assembly of Poughkeepsie, NY....................................................................................................................................... 24

Italian Methuen Assembly, MA.................................................................................................................................................. 25

Italian New Haven Assembly, CT................................................................................................................................................ 24

Italian New Rochelle Assembly, NY............................................................................................................................................ 24

Italian Springfield Assembly, MA............................................................................................................................................... 26

Italian Toronto Assembly, ON..................................................................................................................................................... 26

Italian Vancouver Assembly, BC................................................................................................................................................. 26

Italian Victoria Assembly, BC....................................................................................................................................................... 26

Italian Worcester Assembly, MA................................................................................................................................................ 25

Jersey City Gospel Hall, NJ........................................................................................................................................................... 23

Kingman Gospel Chapel, AZ.................................................................................................................................................. 13, 14

Laurel Bible Chapel in San Diego................................................................................................................................................... 6

Linnton Gospel Hall in Portland, OR............................................................................................................................................ 26

Livingston Gospel Hall, NJ............................................................................................................................................................ 21

Local Cristiano, Waukegan, IL....................................................................................................................................................... 6

Long Branch Gospel Hall, NJ........................................................................................................................................................ 22

MacGregor Bible Chapel, Houston, TX........................................................................................................................................ 3

MacGregor Spanish Bible Chapel, Houston, TX......................................................................................................................... 3

Mayfield Hall, San Antonio, TX..................................................................................................................................................... 2

Mechanicville Gospel Hall, NY............................................................................................................................................... 25, 27

Mexican Gospel Hall, San Antonio, TX........................................................................................................................................ 2

Middle Eastern Bible Fellowship in Detroit................................................................................................................................ 11

Midland Assembly in Detroit....................................................................................................................................................... 15

Monterey Gospel Hall, CA............................................................................................................................................................ 27

Navajo Immanuel Chapel, Immanuel Mission, AZ.................................................................................................................... 18

New Haven Gospel Hall, Hamden, CT......................................................................................................................................... 15

Newark Gospel Hall, NJ.................................................................................................................................................................. 20

Norfolk Street Chapel in New York City........................................................................................................................................ 7

Northway Bible Chapel, Clifton Park, NY.................................................................................................................................... 27

Norwood Gospel Chapel in Chicago............................................................................................................................................ 15

Pawtucket Gospel Hall, RI............................................................................................................................................................... 9

Peach Springs Chapel, AZ...................................................................................................................................................... 13, 14

Pineview Bible Chapel, Houston, TX............................................................................................................................................ 2

Sala Evangelica in Miami................................................................................................................................................................. 7

Salo½ Bíblico, Pueblo, CO................................................................................................................................................................ 4

San Jacinto Gospel Hall, San Antonio, TX............................................................................................................................... 1, 2

South Brooklyn Italian Assembly, NY........................................................................................................................................ 24

South Houston Gospel Chapel, TX............................................................................................................................................... 2

Southwest Bible Chapel in Denver.............................................................................................................................................. 12

Spanish Bible Chapel, South Houston, TX.................................................................................................................................. 3

Spanish Gospel Hall, Brooklyn, NY............................................................................................................................................... 7

Tenafly Hall, NJ... 22

Third Avenue Gospel Chapel, Flagstaff, AZ.............................................................................................................................. 15

Waterbury Gospel Hall, CT........................................................................................................................................................... 20

Westminster Bible Chapel in Los Angeles................................................................................................................................... 5

 

(12,859)

 

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