New churches are often short on funds but long on vision, passion, and ingenuity.
Having a strong ministry partner in those vulnerable early days can help a fledgling church survive and thrive.
Such was the case for Samoan Congregational Christian Church (SCCC) in Kent, Wash., founded by lay preacher Tupai Leota Tiatia. The congregation established a relationship with Disciples Church Extension Fund (DCEF) when Rev. Paulo Lealaitafea joined as pastor.
The congregation has served community members from Samoa (not to be confused with American Samoa) in the Seattle area since 2001. SCCC “nurtures and fosters Samoan cultural values and traditions in relation to Christian ways of life.” In its early years, SCCC traded custodial work to use a local senior center as a worship and fellowship space. They rented a nearby home as a parsonage, which doubled as a meeting place for weekday gatherings.
When leaders wanted to buy their own property, they called DCEF. Rev. Rosario Ibarra, DCEF Building and Capital Services Advisor, helped them secure a DCEF loan in 2013. The newly purchased parsonage became the home of Rev. Hector Pouono when he joined as lead pastor in 2018. When SCCC outgrew the house and the senior center began to charge for using space, leaders looked to purchase an adjacent property. But before they could act, the senior center closed when COVID-19 struck.
So, SCCC leaned on its ingenuity. They added online meetings and a tent on the parsonage parking lot for socially distanced worship. They conducted fundraisers ranging from raffles to traditional dance-centered family events.
In 2021 when the adjacent property came on the market, SCCC was ready. They called on DCEF again, to refinance their loan. The church plans to combine the properties and convert the buildings into a religious and community center with DCEF’s help.
“It’s been very rewarding to support this congregation’s dream of having a dedicated place of worship,” said Rosario. “They are going the extra mile to create a lasting ministry to their community.”
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