THE HISTORY OF VIETNAMESE ALLIANCE WESTMINSTER CHURCH
I. THE DEVELOPMENTAL SIGNIFICANCE
After the communists took over the Republic of South Vietnam in 1975, millions of Vietnamese people escaped their own nation to seek freedom, which includes freedom of religion, in many different countries of world. California has the majority of the Vietnamese immigrants, especially within the city of Westminster in Orange County. The Vietnamese Alliance Westminster Church was established to satisfy the needs of those who value spirtual peace in Christ's salvation.
II. THE PROCESS OF ESTABLISHING THE CHURCH
1. The pioneers' vision
In 1992, pastor Ha Hieu Ho had an opportunity to preach in the city of Westminster. He had the vision of opening a new church to spread Christian religion to the Vietnamese Community in this area. Together with many other church mambers, he worked on a plan to realize his vision. Pastor Spencer T. Sutherland, who was preaching in Vietnam before 1975, shared the same vision with pastor Ha Hieu Ho and collaborated with each other to establish the new church. In April 1992, they met Senior Pastor Charles Leckie of Bethany Bible Fellowship Church, located on Edwards Street in the city of Westminster. Pastor Leckie invited Pastor Ho and Pastor Sutherland to a worship session in May 5, 1992. He kindly asked the members of Bethany Church to give a helping hand for the establishment of the Vietnamese Alliance Church. The members were very supportive, and agreed that the Vietnamese members could use their church and facility free during the initial period.
2. The formation, Improvement, and the stability
On Sunday, September 13, 1992, forty-one members of newly formed Vietnamese Alliance Westminster Church held their first Bible class in the warm, and cheerful atmosphere at Bethany Bible Fellowship Church. The main worship session met regularly afterward. Within the first three worship sessions, the church was blessed by 52 new followers joining the new church. The quick growth in size soon required a more formal organizational structure, which prompted the establisment of the executive board together with several bible groups for the younger generations.
On February 16,1993, the Christian and Mission Alliance legalized this new church to be part of the Vietmamese District of Christian and Misionary Alliance (C&MA). On March 7th, 1993, pastor Ha Hieu Ho who was appointed to the position of the senior pastor of the new church. At the same time, the executive board of C&MA appointed assistant pastor Nha Trong Tran and Johnson Nguyen to help building up, and fostering the newly formed community. In recognition and memory of the founding day of the Vietnamese Alliance Westminster Church, the first Sunday in March each year has been chosen to be the church's anniversary day.
Three years have passed, when the Vietnamese Alliance Westminster Church had moved to 13431 Edwards Street with the help of Pastor Gene Cheryholmes and his members. To continue the development and expansion of the church, the Vietnamese District of C&MA appointed pastor Dang Minh Khuc on February 1st, 1998 to replace pastor Ho in leading the Vietnamese Alliance Westminster Church.
III. WORSHIP AND GRACE
With the blessing of God and the Holy Spirit, the support of Vietnamese District of C&MA, and the cooperation among the members, the Vietnamese Alliance Westminster Church is stable and expanding everyday. It has been 11 years since the day the church was established. We would like to highlight our main activities and and graces during those years.
Currently, there are 120 to 150 members worshiping regularly every Sunday, excluding the youth, and young children. These groups have their own worship sessions. The church has a variety of branches, each with their own instructors. There are different Sunday school classes corresponding to the age of the members. Moreover, in training the "new servants" for the church, the first class of Theological Education by Extension (TEE) was opened since the year 1994, with 7 graduates finishing in the year 1998. These graduates are now participating in the Executive Board of the church. The second class of TEE will be opened in this year. In addition, the church provides scholarships for those members who enroll in the Bible classes at Evangelical Divinity Institutes. The goal for this year is to increase the community to 200 members by encouraging each member to bring in one new follower the end of the year. Finally, the church maintains its praying session at every Saturday morning and praying session at homes of the members on weekly basis.
Within these 11 years, the church has faced many obstacles and challenges. However, with our Lord's help, the Vietnamese Alliance Westminster Church has overcome each of them and achieved its stability with more than 60 individual families. More importantly, the church has been a supportive place for newly trained pastors in practicing to successfully complete their internship. These representative pastors include:
- Former secretary of Westminster church, Mr.Johnson Nguyen who is now a senior pastor at Sacramento church.
- Pastor Nha Trong Tran, former asisstant pastor at Westminster church, is currently a professor at the Alliance Evangelical Divinity Institute.
- Pastor Lap Quoc Duong was former cooperator at Westminster church.
- Pastor Duc van Lam was former intern student at Westminster church.
In additionally, there are two other pastors who gave their helping hands to build up the Wesminster church, pastor Hai van Nguyen and pastor Dinh The Le, in some years before they took the new duty in their current churches.
On the step of expanding during this eleventh year, the Vietnamese District of C&MA appointed pastor Phu Ky Nguyen, a mastor graduate at the Alliance Evangelical Divinity Institute to be assisstant pastor. Since January 8th, 2002, he has spent a considerable amount of time on the Sunday school class for the youth and teenagers, and to be their spiritual counsel.
At the end of 1999, the American First Christian Church had to move to a new location. Due to financial limitation, we could not purchase the building, while another Vietnamese church wanted to buy it. Therefore, once again the Westminster Church was on the move to a new location within the city of Westminster. On Sunday, January 15th, 2000, the Westminster Church moved to 14614 Magnolia Ave, Westminster, CA 92683. We would like to show our gratitude to Jehovah-Jereh for his guidance and grace. Once again, we are thankful to pastor Spencer T. Sutherland for his time and effort in searching for this new place.
In addition, we are thankful and appreciate the kindness of pastor Wong Wayland and the Executive Board of the Chinese Presbyterian Church for allowing us to share their church and facility throughout the years. Before the Vietnamese Alliance Westminster Church moving in here, the Chinese Church has supported us to open Citizenship Classes every academic year at this place through the collaboration with World Relief Organization. Besides the citizenship classes, they volunteer, organize and teach ESL classes for Vietnamese community by helping us with one of the best opportunity to present Jesus Christ Name to our people.
More than just accepting our prayer, our Lord also reserves the best situation for us to witness to the Vietnamese community in this dense area. We have a very heavy duty, but it is very honorable. So, we have proposed the new goal for us including 5 main targets:
- Our church should be a development church.
- Our church should be a witnessing church.
- Our church should be a praying church.
- Each member should bring a new member to the church within the year.
- Each members should be a spirit soldier of our Lord.
In conclusion, we are pushing our variable activities to develop our Westminster Church in many different areas to achieve our goals. May God bless all of us.
Looking back at the eleven-year development process with all the graces from God, the supports of the dedicated pastors, the faith and participation of our members, we would like to show our deepest gratitude to our Lord. We sincerely thank you all our devout members for all of their effort and hard work in building up and expanding the Vietnamese Alliance Westminster Church. Hoping that you will keep up your good work and continue to help the church to become stronger and to honor Jesus Christ's Name. We are sure that " God, who began that good work within you, will continue his work untill it is finally finished on that day when Christ Jesus comes back again" (Phil 1:6) - Amen.