A Place for New Beginnings Begins Anew on Easter Sunday
April 11, 2013
*By Dr. Larry R. Hygh, Jr.
What began on Easter Sunday of 1997 as a fellowship church and a place for new beginnings began anew in a new building. Celebrating resurrection and new life, Genesis United Methodist Church moved into a new facility on Easter Sunday 2013 with a grand building dedication in Milpitas, Calif.
"There is a place where we can use what we have to serve God and serve the community," said the Rev. Siosifa (Sifa) Hingano, Genesis' pastor. Hingano says there are between 70 and 100 people in worship each Sunday between the ages of 30 and 65. "We are a very young church…they have lots of enthusiasm and gifts ready to use."
Bishop Warner H. Brown, Jr., resident bishop of the California-Nevada Annual Conference, and the Rev. Kristie L. Olah, district superintendent for the El Camino Real District, participated in the consecration of the church's new facility.
"The dream when Genesis was launched, was to develop an Afrocentric congregation that was intentionally multicultural…Genesis as we know it today is truly a church that welcomes all people and is a multicultural congregation," said Bishop Brown. His sermon was based on Luke 24:13-49, "A New Lease on Life."
The congregation is primarily African American and Tongan with several Anglo and Hispanic members.
The church has worshipped in several locations since its inception in 1997. The new worshiping community initially met in the Rancho Milpitas Middle School gymnasium until 2003 when it began sharing worship space with a nearby Seventh Day Adventist Church. It was during this time the church purchased property with the intention of building its own sanctuary.
Until 2006 Genesis' worship space and office had always been in different locations. The church moved into a business park in San Jose in order to have both office and worship space in the same facility. With a vision for the future, Genesis began the process of planning to build its own sanctuary. The building project was put on hold because of problems surrounding permit requirements, design, and personnel changes.
Genesis quickly outgrew the space in the business park and began to look for a new place as a base for ministry. In December of 2012, the property that was originally purchased to build a sanctuary was sold and the new building was purchased.
The church's new facility, which is approximately 25 years old, is two blocks from the original office space, and less than a mile from the middle school where the community first worshiped. The main sanctuary seats between 400 and 600 people. There is a fellowship hall that seats up to 200 as well as offices and Sunday school rooms. The building also has an apartment.
In addition to the ministries in the local church, Hingano says members of the church have done mission work in Tonga twice in the past several years. They have also provided medical supplies in Tonga and Fiji and look forward to participating in this year's annual conference mission project by providing medical supplies to Angola.
The Rev. Kristie L. Olah says, "After many years of wandering, not so much in the desert, but from location to location, the people of Genesis have come to a place to be and grow." She added, "The congregation has increased over the last few years, overflowing the worship space and meeting rooms available…this new building is an answer to many prayers and a response to the faithfulness of the original founders."
*Hygh is director of communications for the denomination's California-Nevada Annual Conference which is comprised of 360 local churches with 80,000 United Methodists in Northern California and Northern Nevada.