By Lori Lyn C. Lirio
SAIPAN Community Church would be celebrating its 70th year on Easter Sunday.
Senior Pastor Josh Slater said they will hold Easter sunrise worship on Sunday (April 1) at 6 am. followed by breakfast. At 10 am. there will thanksgiving service to celebrate their 70th year.
On Sunday, David Stephens, the son of Rev. Ed Stephens who founded the church in 1948, will preach to the congregation.
“It is by the grace of God that he allowed us to be here through the years. It is also by the grace of the community that they accepted us here on Saipan,” the pastor said.
Saipan Community Church is the oldest non-Catholic church on the island, according to Slater.
The first service was done in 1948.
“It started off as a mission to servicemen right after the World War II. It was specifically for servicemen and their family,” he said.
Today, the church has about 17 different people groups that attend the Sunday morning service.
“The congregation is composed of different nationalities that we touched,” he said, adding the church has about 300 members.
The church holds four services every Sunday – 8 am. for Palauan, 2 pm. for Chuukese, 10 am. and 5 pm. for English service.
Slater said the Palauan and Chuukese have their own pastors and they are just using the church’s facility to hold their Sunday worship service.
“But the Palauan and Chuukese also participated in our event. They come here and celebrate with us, like Christmas feast, Thanksgiving and Easter,” he said.
The church, according to the pastor, continues to be relevant to the community. He said 30 years ago, they established the Saipan Community School, which now caters to students from K to 8th grade.
“The campus is growing. We have here headquarter for radio site, broadcasting to China. We have been involved in countless community events throughout the years,” he said.
Holding Christmas feast is one of the many traditions they have been doing which is open to the community. He said the last event they held was attended by 400 to 500 people.
“We will continue to be involved in the community. Our theme is ‘touch the island to reach the world’. We will do more outreach” he said.
“We are reaching out to the community. We try to be there and be involved when there is special event.”
The church recently initiated a fundraising for the victims of the flash flood in Mindanao in the Philippines. The pastor said the congregation was able to collect more than $1,000 which they donated to the people who were displaced by the floods triggered by Typhoon Tembin in December 2017.
In July, the Saipan Community Church will host an international conference event for the Chuukese.
Church-related activities involved regular Bible studies, prayer meeting on Wednesdays and different small groups all throughout the week.
Slater said all churches’ goal is to see people to get save and be disciple of Christ.
“We are more than willing to work with that goal. We are really big on individual evangelism – seeking individual, engaged with them – because if you win them to you, you win them to Christ.”