by Gina Canaviri
Centro de Alabanza de Filadelfia (Philadelphia Center of Praise) was established in 2007. The Indonesian Philadelphia Praise Center had the vision of reaching out to the Latino community in south Philadelphia. However, because of the language barrier, they contacted Kirk Hanger (a former missionary to Mexico) for help finding a Latino pastor. Kirk called Fernando Loyola, who was then living in Denver, CO along with his wife Letty and their two daughters, Fernanda and Daniela. Kirk extended an invitation to Fernando and Letty to pastor a new church, Centro de Alabanza.
Fernando and Letty felt the Lord calling them to this work, and they have been pastoring the church now for fourteen years. Pastor Fernando says it has been a great blessing working with the congregation. The members of Centro de Alabanza hail from many different countries, including Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, Ecuador, Mexico, and Venezuela.
A relationship formed between Centro de Alabanza and Towamencin Mennonite Church around four years ago. Pastor Mike Clemmer had the desire to form relationships between churches of different ethnicities. Some activities that our two churches have shared in the past four years are a women’s retreat, sharing homemade tamales to help raise funds for the church building at Centro de Alabanza, and fellowshipping together at Towamencin’s baptismal service and picnic. Towamencin has also donated winter clothing and baby clothes that the members of Centro de Alabanza have been able to distribute to the needy people in their area.
Pastor Fernando wishes to thank the people of Towamencin church for the love they have shown towards their brothers and sisters in south Philadelphia. He says, “We want to continue having this relationship with all of you. May our Lord Jesus Christ continue to bless you all!”