"We wanted to carry on the tradition of the original founder of the church in 1918," said Larry Giancola, a Guttenberg resident and long-time member of the Assembly Church. "The original methods of worship had merits. We just felt that we wanted to start a new church, based on strong Bible curriculum and the use of the old hymns."
So approximately 20 members of the Assembly Church in West New York left that congregation to start a new church called the Hope of Glory Mission, which is using the old St. Peter and Paul Lutheran Church on Jackson Avenue in Guttenberg for its weekly services.
St. Peter and Paul Lutheran closed last year, and the building was purchased by the Seventh Day Adventist faith, which has graciously allowed the new Hope of Glory Mission to use the facilities for Sunday evening services.
"We're still cutting our teeth," Giancola said. "We're getting everything down. I think we're on the right track."
Fellow member Phyllis DeLorenzo, a former Guttenberg resident, is encouraged by the humble beginnings of the new church.
"We're starting out small, but it's a good feeling to know that we're here," said DeLorenzo, a current resident of Ridgefield Park. "It's been a little difficult, but we're hopeful that more people will come out and join us. We want to reach out to the community. We want people to know that we're there, that we care about the community. We have a small congregation, but there is always a chance for growth."
Roll of honor
Giancola said that the new church, which has been holding services every Sunday evening at 6 p.m., has reinstituted a long-standing tradition, remembering those serving the country in the Armed Forces.
The tradition of the Roll of Honor has been brought to the Hope of Glory Mission, where the church prays for those who are off at war. The names of the servicemen and servicewomen are listed on the Roll of Honor, and the members of the congregation pray for their safe return.
"If someone from the soldier's family comes just once and we can verify their service to the Armed Forces, they will be put on the Roll of Honor," Giancola said. "It's a service to the entire area, not just Guttenberg and North Bergen."
Giancola said that the Assembly Church of West New York had the Roll of Honor throughout the great wars, like World War I and World War II.
"I remember that our church had a great track record," Giancola said. "We had 34 members of the congregation who went off to fight in World War II. And we were able to pray all 34 of them back home safely."
Giancola said that there would be only one request - that if the member of the military either came home safe or left the military for some reason, they would notify the Hope of Glory Mission to take the name off the Roll of Honor.
"It's a service to the community to pray for our loved ones," Giancola said. "I know that when I went off to serve in the military [during the Vietnam War], my mother and aunt prayed for me and I was on the Roll. We just want the community to know what we're all about."
DeLorenzo said that the new congregation has plans to include the youth of the community. There are already Sunday school classes that precede services, but DeLorenzo hopes to start a club for children from the neighborhood, based out of the new church.
"We want to provide a sense of belonging, inviting kids from the neighborhood, giving them a chance to learn from the word of God," DeLorenzo said. "We hope to invite them, perhaps one weeknight per week, to a separate class for the children. We just want to reach out to people who have needs and show that we truly care about them."
Both church members feel that the congregation will grow when the Hope of Glory Mission switches its weekly Sunday services from the evening to mornings in November.
"Then our services will be more traditional," Giancola said. "We're a down-to-earth good church with solid worship. It's very hard in today's day and age to set up an entirely new church and ministry, but that's what we're doing. We hope to draw from people in the area. We just want people to know about who we are."
To learn more about the Hope of Glory Mission, feel free to contact Larry Giancola at (201) 868-3609 or Phyllis DeLorenzo at (201) 296-0026.