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Shrewsbury church celebrating 60 years

Staff Writer

SHREWSBURY — For more than half a century, the First Assembly of God has been dedicated to reaching people of all ages and backgrounds through the Gospel, programs and other activities aimed at serving community needs locally and abroad.

On May 1, the church will celebrate its 60th anniversary, bringing parishioners together to reflect on the milestone occasion and how far the church has come and where it is going.

“Our theme is ‘60 Years Strong,’” said the Rev. Timothy A. Harris, pastor of First Assembly of God in Shrewsbury.

“The 60th anniversary for us has really become this rallying point to say as a congregation that we continue to link arms together and do what God called us to do 60 years ago.

“While our world has changed and people have changed, our core values are still the same and that is worshiping God and serving the people of our community and the people God brings our way.”

As part of the celebration, Harris said a worship service is scheduled for the morning, which will feature a guest speaker known to many attendees.

“On that day, rather than having two services, we’re having one service that morning at 10 a.m. so that way the whole congregation will be together, and our guest speaker that day is the Rev. Richard Fogel, who served as interim pastor this past year for three months,” he said.

“Following the service that morning, we’re having an anniversary banquet at Jumping Brook Country Club [in Neptune City] at 1 p.m., and at the banquet, we’ll have guests who will be bringing congratulatory words for the congregation, and we’ll be reading congratulatory letters from Shrewsbury’s mayor and from our district officials, and we’ll have a slideshow of the history of the church, especially highlighting the past decade.

“We’re probably going to pack … the house that day so it is going to be a very exciting time with special music, worship, guest speakers and celebrating 60 years of history.”

The idea for the local church was born in a prayer meeting held in a north Long Branch home.

The home church meetings developed into individuals renting a storefront on Henry Street in Shrewsbury, where after two years, the congregation moved into the present location of the church at 220 Sycamore Ave.

For the past six decades, the congregation has met in the same building, with the present sanctuary being added in 1976 and the building being remodeled in 2007 and 2008.

Seven former pastors served the church before Harris and his wife, Kim, began their ministry at First Assembly of God in August 2015.

Current church membership is 146, and Sunday morning attendance is 260.

“One of the things that attracted us to come into First Assembly and accept the pastorage was the diversity in the community, the diversity in the congregation as well as the great potential this congregation has to make an impact on the community with the Gospel and in serving people,” Harris said.

“This first year, part of my task has been to get to know the community, get to know our congregation, sense what the heartbeat of the congregation is and how it is we can be most effective in taking care of the community God has placed us in.”

Harris has served as a senior and lead pastor for over 20 years in the New Jersey and New York metropolitan areas.

Prior to coming to First Assembly, Harris served four years as the lead pastor of Promise International Fellowship in Flushing, New York, and served 12 years as senior pastor of Englewood Assembly of God in Englewood.

“One of the things we emphasize and one of our thoughts with the anniversary and our theme ’60 Years Strong’ … is that we want to be a church that continues to move forward,” Harris said.

“Everything that we have experienced these past 60 years and everything that God has done for us these past 60 years is a means to help us move forward to the future that we still have as a church and part of that is developing new ministries as needed and reaching our community to minister to families, youth, children and the elderly.”

Harris said the church is also growing in its intercultural ministry.

“We see these next few years in front of us as an opportunity to really help minister to people of various language groups around us because we feel that is part of our call as a church,” he said.

“Although we’re here in Shrewsbury, we see ourselves responsible for a wider group of people and … our congregation is a very diverse congregation.

“Our goal is that we don’t want to become a stagnant church, we want to be a church that continues to move forward in being effective, in reaching people, helping people, serving our community.”

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