New Jesus Life Center holds inaugural celebration

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September 18, 2016

The Jesus Life Center, a new Brazilian ministry in Worcester, MA, officially celebrated its new home with a special service and reception on Sept. 17, 2016.

Led by Pastor Thiago Vieira and Assistant Pastor Ben Daggett, the new ministry conducts Sunday services in both Portuguese (10:30 a.m.) and English (9 a.m.).

The Jesus Life Center grew out of the Brazilian Family Ministry in Saugus, MA. Co-Pastor Clauri Goncalves said of the Jesus Life Center: “I feel like this church’s grandmother.”

Saugus Co-Pastor Juarez Goncalves explained that Pastor Vieira had been with Saugus since 2001, the beginning of that ministry, and is the first from that church to be called to the pastorate. The first wedding to take place at that church was that of Vieira and his wife, Selma.

“We are very happy and joyful today to celebrate the leadership of this couple,” he said. “God bless you.”

This new ministry is a relaunch of Aldersgate United Methodist Church, and an example of the Hebrews 11 Fund at work. The fund uses the proceeds from discontinued and/or abandoned properties in order to develop new congregations and/or revitalize existing congregations.

In this case, when the congregation at Aldersgate UMC found they were unable to reach out and grow the church as well as they would have hoped, they opted, in July 2016, to transfer the church building at 1048 Main St. and all its financial resources to this emerging ministry. This allowed the growing Brazilian congregation to have its own church building. Some members of the Aldersgate congregation continue to worship with the Jesus Life Center.

New England Conference Director of Congregational Development Rev. Rick McKinley spoke at the relaunch celebration service, and told the following story about that relaunch:

“The 11th chapter of Hebrews reminds us that each of us we stand on the shoulders of those who have gone before us. We received the gift of faith from Abraham and Sarah. … you and I, we stand on the shoulders of all those saints.

“About a year ago, the congregation that was meeting here began to realize that they were no longer living out the full mission of the church. They were struggling to connect with the community and live a vibrant faith that reached new people in new ways.

“So we began to dream …

“To fast forward several conversations with that congregation, we said to them: ‘What if …’ What if we brought new leadership – a new pastor, a new way of doing church – into this place where you have been so faithful.

“I remember, earlier this year when we finally came to that place where they were going to make that decision, one of the women who was in the room – maybe she’s here tonight – when we had decided to hand over this facility and the assets to the new congregation that was growing under Thiago’s leadership, she looked at me and she said: ‘I can’t wait to go home and tell my husband about this.’

“I said, ‘Please, go home and tell him.’ She said ‘I will, we had his funeral earlier this week, but I still talk to him every night.’

And my heart was filled and my eyes began to fill.

“Her husband did not get to see the promises that he hoped for for this place; but tonight, you and I stand on his shoulders and on the shoulders of all the saints who have worshiped here, loved here … and so we launch the new Jesus Life Center. Not so we can have fame or so we can have fortune, but so we can proclaim the power of God to raise new life where there was none.”

In offering the closing prayer at the Sept. 17 service, Rev. Rene Perez, Central Massachusetts District Superintendent, called it an historic moment:

“… this ministry has been established in this place for your glory and your honor that many more may come to know You. … We’re clear today, O God, that the darkness will not prevail. That we are children of the light, and you have sent us into this world to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ ...”