On November 19, East Palmyra (N.Y.) Christian Reformed Church welcomed the congregation of Chin Christian Church (CCCS) in Syracuse, N.Y., to celebrate its affiliation with the denomination as an emerging church. Chin Christian Church, a group of refugees from Myanmar that has been worshiping together for almost 10 years, is now a daughter church of East Palmyra, approved last month by Classis Atlantic Northeast, a regional group of Christian Reformed churches.
The Chin congregation contacted the CRC in 2016 and began working toward affiliation. They had heard good things about the Christian Reformed Church and were eager to be part of a larger body of Christ. East Palmyra CRC’s pastor Nick Monsma attended the first meeting with denominational representatives and a Chin church planter and agreed to work with CCCS as their church councilor.
Monsma has provided education and resources for this young congregation as they learned more about the confessions and CRC history and culture. He preaches at CCCS twice each month, using an interpreter, and has been encouraged by this congregation’s excitement and intentionality toward fellowship.
“It’s neat to see the differences but also the things that are found in both our cultures,” said Monsma.
East Palmyra CRC hosted the service of recognition. The two congregations worshiped together equally in English and Falam Chin with line-by-line translation. Songs were sung in both languages. The congregations celebrated Lord’s Supper together and also shared a fellowship meal after the service. Monsma preached about Paul and Timothy, how they came together and how God still brings new teams together to strengthen the church.
Community CRC in Baldwinsville, N.Y., another Classis Atlantic Northeast congregation, has also been in fellowship with CCCS in combined services, shared meals, and church picnics. Pastor Brent Pennings, like Monsma, preaches at Chin Christian Church each month. Deacons from Community CRC have come alongside CCCS to help meet needs within their congregation. Community CRC also arranged transportation so children from the CCCS congregation could attend Community’s vacation Bible school.
As these three congregations continue to encourage and support one another, they pray that CCCS will find a suitable pastor and will be strengthened by this new denomination affiliation.
“We’re excited to be a part of another body of Christ as it’s starting to emerge and become more active and invested in the community,” said Pennings. “It’s been a blessing to us, and we hope to continue to walk alongside them in their journey.”