Monday, June 27, 2011

Wounded California Church Rising From The Ashes

by Rev. Austin Miles
Antioch, California( 6/26/11) One by one, the cars pulled into the parking lot of Black Diamond Middle School on Sterling Hills Drive in Antioch, California. It was to be the first Sunday service of the newly organized church called, His Praise Worship Center, at 10 AM,  in the inside amphitheater (yes there is such a thing).
Some entered cautiously with uncertainty. As they recognized one another coming in,  joy lit their faces. A church congregation is a family.
This particular congregation is more than that. They are an extremely loving and generous people bound together in the love of God, pulling together. They give of themselves to help others. They've, fed and clothed 1000 people a month who would have gone without had it not been for this congregation.
Kim Moreno has greatly affected the lives of hundreds of teen-age girls and young women every month with her program, WOW,=Women of Worth. A Community Chaplains program was established to train chaplains to serve people at their time and place of need.
This congregation has encouraged and ministered to the addicted to help them get their lives back on track. One of the ministers, Pastor Joe Seeley makes a trip to Stockton once a week to work with such people with outstanding results. He uses his own time, pays for his own gas and is not paid for doing it.
As the church service was underway, prayer was offered for Pastor Joe and Ken, his twin brother, also a pastor, who are doing missionary work overseas.
This congregation, however, has been deeply wounded and are still reeling from an incredible series of events that nobody was prepared for in their former church, Mountain View Christian Center, that ended with the suicide of their pastor, Jerry Hanoum.
During the entire affair, there was no mention in the media about about the caring congregation who performed such good community work. That was deeply hurtful to these giving people who had absolutely nothing to do with the events described.
The church itself was shattered and left with debts. They are in the finishing process of vacating the property they were leasing. This past week they had a yard sale, with everything in the Trinity Christian School being sold to pay bills. That included the entire school library that had been accumulated over the years.
The day before he died, Hanoum said that he was going to resign, due to the negative publicity and appointed Rev Tyrone Holmes, and Kim Moreno to be the pastors of the church when he left. The next day, Hanoum unexpectedly took his own life.
The last service in the former location was Sunday a week ago as things were being dismantled around the grounds. It was tough on everybody.
Pastors Tyrone Holmes, Joe Seely, and Carelton Booker worked to obtain a new location to keep the congregation together. And they did come together for this first service of the new church this morning, along with some visitors who felt at home and will continue to attend. The original congregation was intact.
Pastor Tyrone preached a wonderful and encouraging message about The Lion of Judah with the underlying theme, Praise to Victory.  Praising God in bad times can lead to victory.
As the service began, everyone relaxed while being filled with praise and optomism. as they found a new freedom with this new church [as] the choir, led by Pastor Kim Moreno made their entrance on the stage.  The entire service absolutely basked in what can only be described as the ultimate sweep of new beginnings with new expectations, new service to God, and a new closer walk with God. and best of all....renewal.
Nobody knows first hand what really happened with Jerry Hanoum or the intent of his heart. Let us leave it there and move on. I do know this;  an evil man is defiant and arrogant, and would never commit suicide. So be it.
This morning, a new and better work has risen from the smoldering ashes caused by the fiery darts of life. God's presence at that premier service today indicates that the best is yet to come..