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An earnest endeavor in serving the Lord

Pastoral Visit of the Executive Minister: North Shields, United Kingdom
June 30, 2019
By Rolando Hagacer and Cheryle Latonero

Pastoral Visit of the Executive Minister: North Shields, United Kingdom
June 30, 2019
By Rolando Hagacer and Cheryle Latonero

NORTH SHIELDS is the epicenter of a thriving fishing and shipping industry in Northeast England. Home to an international port, it also serves as a travel hub for many tourists, contributing more to its growing economy.

On the religious side, however, it is experiencing a type of “recession” that is also occurring in many parts of the world todayas fewer and fewer people affiliate themselves with religion and attendance in church services rapidly declines. Because of this, chapels of some religious organizations, which were once considered landmarks and town centers, are now either empty, closed, or abandoned.

In stark contrast, the Iglesia Ni Cristo (Church Of Christ) has been purchasing and refurbishing a number of chapels for the growing number of its members in different parts of the world. One of these is found just a few blocks from the town center of North Shields. A chapel formerly owned by the Methodist Church is now a newly renovated Church Of Christ house of worship of the Local Congregation of North Shields, Ecclesiastical District of United Kingdom.

Prior to the establishment of the then Group Worship Service (GWS) in this northeastern region of England, brethren would spend many hours traveling to the nearest house of worship in Edinburgh, Scotland to attend worship services. Coming from Darlington, County Durham up to Morpeth, Northumberland County, they would travel almost 150 miles for worship and for their other Church duties. This was not easy. Many of them traveled by public transport which, more often than not, experienced delays due to inclement weather.

These were not the only hindrances the brethren had to hurdle. “Over the years, the struggles we faced were due to our work schedules. I constantly requested my employer to give me certain days off. When explaining that I needed to attend the worship service, I would often get mocked,” recalled Brother Arnold Aguilar, a finance officer who is one of the pioneering members of the congregation.

Nevertheless, the brethren were undeterred by these difficulties. Equipped with firm faith, they endeavored eagerly to always make it to the worship services.

“Attending the worship services is very important for us since it is our inherent duty to worship our Lord God as His chosen servants. When we experience trials or difficulties, we should all the more endeavor to attend the worship services because it is in these gatherings that God strengthens our faith,” said Sister Honey Latonero. A deaconess, she is also one of the pioneers of the congregation. Her residence was used as the first place of worship in 2005 when the Church Administration approved the establishment of the GWS in their area.

From there, the brethren moved to a nearby community hall, which they rented, to accommodate their growing number. This presented them with some difficult challenges. Sister Angelica Hagacer, a choir member and Binhi officer, recalled the ordeal that she and her parents, also pioneering members of the GWS, had to deal with:

“I was still young when it happened, but I was with my parents when other people who were also renting the hall argued with the brethren over schedule conflicts. We had to look for alternative locations to conduct our worship services. Wintertime presented even more difficulties because snowstorms and extreme cold weather caused road closures.”

Nonetheless, facing and overcoming these past challenges has given the brethren more reasons to cherish their new house of worship and to thank God for His mercy and protection.

The brethren in the Local Congregation of North Shields firmly believe that it is God Who has blessed them with a new and permanent house of worship, which to them is a testament to His unending goodness and love.

“I believe that the house of worship is important for us Church Of Christ members because this is the place where God listens to our prayers and grants them. Having a permanent house of worship all the more inspires the brethren to become more active in their duties and remain members of the Church until the end,” Sister Honey expressed.

Despite the many hardships they went through, they were still able to attend the worship services because they entrusted themselves to God through prayer. They believed wholeheartedly that even if the hardest of challenges came into their lives, God would never abandon them because they trusted in Him and He would grant their requests.

While many people nowadays do not consider religion a priority, the members of the Church Of Christ in North Shields have proven their dedication and commitment to their faith. Sister Milagros Tamboboy, a choir member and local congregation secretary, shared her conviction: “As members of the Church Of Christ, we have to hold on firmly to our membership. As life becomes more difficult, I will not neglect worshiping God and I will continue to be full of zeal in fulfilling my duties. Most especially, no matter what comes in my life, I will always place my trust in the Lord God.” 

Many more trials may be experienced by God’s servants, but with their devotion and complete trust in the Almighty God, they have nothing to fear. No matter what the tests each member may have to face, the teachings of the Lord God engraved in their hearts and their high regard for their divine election keep them steadfast in their faith throughout their lives. This was emphasized by Brother Eduardo V. Manalo, the Executive Minister of the Church Of Christ, in his preaching of God’s words during the worship service he officiated on June 30, 2019, which was also the dedication to God of the new house of worship in North Shields.

Teaching the importance of the worship service, Brother Eduardo Manalo pointed out that Church Of Christ members should always have that earnest desire to serve the Lord. He also reminded the brethren to continue to place their trust in God.

“The power of prayer will never fail to manifest itself. The fact that we now have our own permanent house of worship is clear evidence of that. It’s so reassuring to know that God listens to my prayers and guides me throughout my life. The biblical lessons taught by the Executive Minister will always be engraved in my heart,” Sister Angelica said.

Having a house of worship in North Shields is a great blessing for the brethren. Full of inspiration, Brother Arnold said: “Now that our house of worship is nearer to us, we can all the more focus on our worship services and dedicate ourselves to God in fulfilling our duties in the Church.”

From its humble beginnings as a GWS at Latonero’s residence through its continuous growth as a local congregation throughout the purchase of a chapel beautifully renovated into its permanent house of worship, the Local Congregation of North Shields has always received overflowing blessings from God which are clear manifestations of His unending goodness.

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