Arthur Cribbs, Howard University News Service
The word ‘INTERNATIONAL’ in all capital letters is painted at the forefront of the banner that stands at the center of the sanctuary at Freedom Chapel International Christian Center (FCICC). For this congregation located in Congress Heights, accepting people of all nations, tongues, creeds, and backgrounds remains the basis of this church.
“I don’t pay attention to color. I see people and Christ wants us to love the person. When we love the people, we let God do the rest,” said youth pastor and praise team leader Jonathan Miller. Miller, who has attended FCICC his entire life, claims the church lives by the bible verse Acts 17:26, which says, “From one person God created every human nation to live on the whole earth.”
Living by this part of the scripture, the church has made its mission to spread beyond the borders of the United States. “Our pastor and founder Bishop Madison went all over the place and each time, more churches wanted to be under our umbrella,” said usher board leader, Joyce Hamlett.
The congregation now has relationships in Nigeria, Liberia, and Russia, among several other countries, sending books and monthly stipends to foreign churches. In return, these congregations abroad report back on the status of their churches. The most notable international accomplishment for the church is their work in Liberia, where they help fund a hospital. Liberian pastor James Cuffie visited FCICC in 2014, providing a direct report of the medical center. FCICC posted a video of Cuffie’s visit to their church on their website, where he can be seen giving an update of the hospital and expressing his gratitude for their support.
FCICC also joined the coalition, Apostolic World Christian Fellowship (AWCF), which represents over 70 countries. Founded in 1970, AWCF consists of over 135 Apostolic organizations brought together through shared faith. The current chairman of AWCF, Samuel Smith, spoke at FCICC earlier this month, preaching at both their 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. services.
While members at FCICC aim beyond the United States to spread its mission, the church also keeps its doors open to new members from the community. “I happened to be walking by the church and I heard the bishop so I decided to walk in,” said first-time visitor Germal Morgan. “I felt completely welcome and the atmosphere felt hospitable, even though they did not know me.”
During their services, the church seeks to accommodate all people. Despite their majority African American demographic, their morning service features scripture readings in both English and Spanish. Expanding their Hispanic ministries, FCICC created a connection with a Spanish speaking pastor, Efraim Valverde, who is based in California. Valverde is one of several partner pastors of the D.C. congregation, and many of these partner ministers visit FCICC, serving as guest ministers.
As long as FCICC continues to remain active, their members will seek to grow connections throughout the world. As usher board leader Hamlett said, “We’re an international church and the door is always open for all.”