Real Christians: Methodist church opens doors to Chuukese congregation
Francis Street First United Methodist Church has opened its doors to Chuuk Island Ministry Church this summer, a local Micronesian congregation looking for a larger place to worship.
Candy Sheehan, a lay leader at Francis Street First United Methodist, said they wanted to open their fellowship hall to the community.
“We had an idea that we wanted our downstairs fellowship hall to be an international fellowship hall and so that’s why the Micronesians are using it right now. We wanted to open it up to any of our immigrant communities that would like to use that space and so this was a wonderful place to start because the Micronesians have given us so much life and joy. They are just a delight,” Sheehan said.
Sheehan said opening the space allowed an opportunity for the two communities to connect.
“Francis Street is at, kind of, a crossroads. We’re trying to determine what should be our goal, passion or our involvement, and how we’re going to connect with our community. So we’re searching for ways to do that and this seemed like an obvious way to start because we have so many immigrants in this community already, and English as a second language classes are only about five blocks away from us at Webster, so we just felt like this might be a way that we could connect,” she said.
Pastor Phillip Rudolph of Chuuk Island Ministry Church said before they started worshiping in Francis Street First’s international fellowship hall they were in Rudolph’s home for services.
“I was praying to God to show me the place to have the service. For one year we just used my house, but it’s very tight,” Rudolph said.
Rudolph, who emigrated from Chuuk Island, Micronesia, in 2011 to Spokane, Washington, came to St. Joseph following the death of a family member and decided to stay and preach to the Micronesian community.
“My cousin passed away from here and I came to see all my family from my Dad’s side. They don’t go to church and at the time I felt that this was something that God wants me to do — preaching the word of God to these people,” said Rudolph.
Chuuk Island Ministry Church meets in the international fellowship hall on Sundays following Francis Street First United Methodist’s Services and on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m.