Vietnamese Church Comes Into Its Own
The United Methodist Vietnamese Church in Fort Smith, Arkansas is emerging as a conference leader. With just fifty members this small church is living today as a connectional church.
This year at Arkansas Annual Conference Do Van Le gave the opening prayer in Vietnamese and two Vietnamese ushers handed out bulletins. Linh Hua is on the District Leadership Committee while Cuong Phan is on the Committee on District Superintendency. These are historic firsts in the life of the Vietnamese Church.
“They always pay their apportionments”. Terry Gallimore, the pastor said. “They are stepping out in faith and learning what it means to be connectional.”
These firmly grounded members have been worshipping inside St. Paul’s choir room for the last seven years. For four of those years they functioned as a United Methodist mission. Then this Fort Smith congregation applied for and received a charter to become a fully functioning United Methodist Church. It is the first predominantly Vietnamese fellowship in the South Central Jurisdiction to become an independent church.
Now these strongly emerging leaders in the conference are also building their own church building. It is now in the dry with most of the electrical and plumbing done. “We pooled our tools,” said the Reverend Gallimore, who noted that much of the work had been done by members of the congregation.
Members of the congregation sold egg rolls as a fund raiser from Linh Hua’s restaurant the Taipei and opened it on Saturdays as a way to make money for the new church. The Annual Conference and District have both financially supported, and several churches have also contributed; such as Ozark UMC who donated the pews and Centerton who donated the pulpit, lectern, altar, and an electric keyboard. Raymond James Investments has given computers.
“All Heard in their Own Language”, Acts 2: 8
Once finished, the congregation plans to webcast their services in the Fort Smith area and back to home communities in Vietnam. A service includes reading from the Psalter with a leader, singing hymns such as Amazing Grace and I Surrender All. Terry said, “We sing both praise and traditional hymns. As the early Christians, the Lord’s Prayer and Doxology ends the worship service.” The Vietnam webcast of these services will allow family and friends to join in Sunday services creating a global ministry so the connection will truly be complete.
Posted in: Blog | on July 6th, 2012
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