Hispanic church opens in SuffolkPublished 11:17pm Wednesday, January 8, 2014
A Pentecostal Hispanic congregation is breathing new life into the church building at the corner of Shoulders Hill Road and Nansemond Parkway that Union Baptist Missionary Church — as it was then known — moved out of in 2010. The Apostolic Assembly of the Faith in Jesus Christ held its first worship service in Suffolk Dec. 1, said Arturo Ortiz Jr., the church’s music coordinator and son of Pastor Arturo Ortiz Sr.
They’d previously been in Chesapeake, he said, but required greater capacity.
“We were growing with a lot of members and were in a smaller building,” the junior Ortiz said. “We were looking for something bigger, and in October we found this location.”
With 70 members, the church currently leases the building but is looking to buy it, Ortiz said. Bible study is held at 7 p.m. Wednesdays, he said, and Sunday worship at 1 p.m. follows an hour of Sunday school.
“(The Suffolk location is) better, because over there we had just one room for the service; we didn’t have any rooms for the kids,” Ortiz said. “Right now, we have plenty of rooms for different classes.”
Ortiz said his family, originally from Mexico, came to Virginia from Texas in 1998 for employment reasons.
They first started a Bible study group at their house, he said, which grew in popularity before the elder Ortiz began studying to become a pastor in 2003.
Its website says the church is one of the world’s fastest growing Hispanic Christian denominations and the oldest Spanish-speaking “Oneness Pentecostal denomination” in the U.S.
U.S. membership grew 87 percent between 1996 and 2002, it says, with over 700 churches currently in America and 550 missionary churches in 20 countries.
The music he coordinated is an important part of services, the younger Ortiz said, adding that an English translation during services make them accessible to the general public.
He said the new Suffolk location’s proximity to the interstate, hotels and restaurants are important with the denomination’s habit of combined services, where members of several churches gather at one church.
“Everything is close to the (Interstate) 664,” he said, “and it’s close to the hotels, because sometimes the pastors come to preach in this church, and they have hotels, they have restaurants.”