Enjoying The Ride
To our Church Family and the Community,
Over 44 years ago, my grandfather, Rev. Mathai P. Mathai, received an opportunity, through the Church of God World Missions Department, to migrate from Kerala, India to Brooklyn, New York and plant a church. With a firm vision to reach the Keralite Indian Immigrant community, he pioneered the ministry known as Brooklyn Church of God that would eventually grow and expand in the New York City metropolitan area.
From then until now the church has grown and seen hundreds of people experience salvation, water baptism, grow in the Lord, and serve God in various ways. By God’s grace, many individuals, families, ministers and churches whom now spread out into different cities, states and countries will be able to trace their roots back to this church in some way, shape or form.
In January 2000, Pastor Moni Mathew and Kunjamma, my dad and mom, became the Senior Pastors of the church, now known as First Church of God, in Elmont, New York. He was able to stabilize and maintain the church’s spiritual, fiscal, and temporal matters. Pastor Moni and Kunjamma have been faithfully serving the church during their times of uncertainty, joy, celebration, grief, and loss. For the past 17 years they have led the church through tough, lean times, gave leadership to pioneer new ministries, raise up emerging leaders and ministers, and now see the church in a season of growth.
I’ve watched and learned from my parents, elders, and leaders about serving God faithfully and consistently through the local church. Through the years, the Lord gave me a love, passion, and desire to reach more people and see the local church become what it is designed to be; bringing the Gospel, love, and hope to this world.
Early 2007, the Lord placed a burden on my heart and passion in my soul to see First Church of God reach its local community of Elmont and beyond. I believed the church should continue to minister to our existing church family but, also reach out to new individuals that needed to hear the Gospel. We kept praying for a way and opportunity and in 2010, the Lord dealt with Pastor Moni, the ministers, and the leadership team in unique ways.
By January 2011, the fervent prayers of the church leaders and members lead to the birth of a new ministry within the church called, Community Worship Service (CWS). With this historic step, the church was pioneering a path to reach its local community through the Gospel and love of Jesus Christ.
I’ve had the privilege, honor, and responsibility to pastor and lead CWS. First Church of God slowly transformed into a reflection of His local church where we are one church with multiple generations from multiple nationalities who can worship God in multiple worship service experiences.
On Sunday, October 29, 2017, we were appointed to succeed Rev. Moni & Kunjamma Mathew, as the new Senior Pastors of First Church of God. They have served in pastoral ministry for 23 years and lead our church for the past 17 years. They served faithfully, sacrificially, lovingly, and courageously! They did their best to be themselves. They learned “on the job”. They helped so many people and families. They gave up a lot for others and His Church. They kept their integrity. They embodied loyalty. They are true shepherds. They have led us, loved us, challenged us, instructed us, corrected us, encouraged us, supported us, and mentored us over the years in matters of family and ministry. We are blessed to have them as our parents and pastors.
I’ve often said that the proverbial passing of the baton takes humility and courage from the one giving it and the one receiving it. We are incredibly humbled, overwhelmed, and honored that God would choose us to carry the baton of responsibility, service, and ministry.
You may be wondering how does this change affect Community Worship Service and/or First Church of God? The simplest way to answer that question is:
We are ONE CHURCH with MULTIPLE SERVICES. We are committed to seeing all people, families, ministries, services, and ultimately the kingdom of God grow.
We are also excited to announce that Pastor Abey & Jennifer Thomas have accepted the responsibility to serve as Pastors of the Malayalam congregation/service. Pastor Abey’s family has been with First Church of God since 2003. Abey and Jennifer have served faithfully in countless roles and ways for the church and its community. We believe in the calling God has on this family. Their heart for people in the church and those who still need to hear about Jesus is amazing. We believe in them and know God’s purpose for them is to pastor and serve FCOG to become a light and local redemptive center for the south Asian community.
You may be wondering, “Where are Pastor Moni & Kunjamma (dad and mom) going?” The best part is that they are not going anywhere. In all the conversations we’ve had in the past few months, I was so enlightened and encouraged to see the impact they have had on the people in both services of our church. They are not retiring. They are healthy and active. They are just transitioning into a new assignment. You will see and hear them often. They will stay on the ministerial team at church.
In January 2018, Pastor Abey and I, with our families, will officially step into our new roles and they will continue to advise, mentor, and provide wisdom to us in helping us through this transition and the future of our church. We trust God will bless, use, and reward them in the years ahead! At the same time, we hope to see them take time for themselves to rest, refresh, recharge, and be renewed.
This was not an easy decision or process. We saw the hand of God and the grace of God operate in the course of this journey and in the lives of everyone involved. We are not done with the transition just yet but, we are praying for His presence and provision to be with us going forward.
To the incredible people of First Church of God and Community Worship Service, we love you! We are excited, honored, and humbled to be part of God’s plan for this great church and community. We are ready for God to lead and amaze us. We are encouraged to see so many of you already express your excitement and commitment to the future. We believe there are more people out there that will call this church their home just like we all do. We will go forward with the HEARTBEAT of ONE church, the MIND of ONE church, and the STRENGTH of ONE church.
We commit to lead you with integrity. We commit to never forget the towel of service. We commit to preach the truth of God’s Word with love and power. We commit to pray for you consistently.
Let’s continue to trust God completely. Let’s encourage one another. Let’s seek the face of God. Let’s hear and listen to the voice of God. Let’s love God, one another, and our neighbors. Let’s pray for one another. Let’s get ready to be amazed in the coming days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
This has definitely been one interesting ride in life and ministry but, like I always say, “ENJOY THE RIDE!”
Pastor Cecil, Sherin, Abigail, Kayla, & Lillian