(Friend of the Church)
Small church with a big heart
Friend of the Church is a small church with plenty of heart. Located at 26448 Olive in an obscure cul-de-sac of Hemet is blessed with a pastor and congregation dedicated to the service of people in the San Jacinto Valley. The Senior Pastor, Amber Lee Perada sat down with this reporter recently and we became engaged in one of the most intriguing and ambitious interviews one could imagine. Here is her story:
“My husband David, who is my associate are fairly new to this community, although he has been with the Church for a long time. I became Senior Pastor in January of this year. We met and married and lived in Perris when we decided to move to Hemet to be close to the Church here since we felt a need to be with the Church here. At first, it was just the small property where the Church building is located, but we noticed that the two acres adjacent to us were vacant, which prompted us to contact the owner about its availability.”
The property they were interested in ran all the way through to Girard Street and where a small house seemed like a good location for a home.
“The owner was excited with our ideas and offered to work with us and let us on to the property and we are working with him to buy the whole property. We were thinking about how wonderful it would be to come up with something that would not only benefit us but, more importantly, provide a new way to serve the community. Our primary goal is and has always been to follow Jesus and do as he did, give to the community and provide something that everyone could benefit from. We love to have people come to services, but we want to be able to serve and so we had all this land. The question became, what to do with it.”
That decision was quick in coming. They would plant a community garden and create a farm. They put in their first garden of June this year, a bit late for planting but have already come into their first harvest.
“We had surprisingly good production. We have harvested corn, cucumbers, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and watermelon. Our first trial and error turned out okay. Our goal is to have fruit trees and animals and have already planted young fruit trees plus our initial chicken population is ten, and they are laying eggs. We want to see the community come and bring their children and learn about gardening and animals and how to care for them. My hope is to spread the word. I would like to learn how to can food as folks did during the Great Depression.”
They are planning to offer the community a chance to come and plant and partake of the vegetables and fruits. Eventually, they will post a sign in front of the Church for times when the garden will be open for folks to come and participate in the garden.
“Everything is free. Nothing is for us to profit from. Giving back is the motto or our Church and our congregation, although small is growing. A recent Sunday saw 70 people, 30 of whom were children. We have a trunk or treat coming up soon.”
Their recent grand opening was highly successful. There are many churches in this Valley and they do not intend to compete with them, according to the Pastor.
“We are offering something different that contributes to the good works other churches do in the community. We also recently had our first children’s day. The entire Sunday was for children and their needs and it was a delight to see them enjoy being included as a part of our community activities. We have some goats and pigs and the kids love them as they learn about farming and the growing of food and nurturing the animals.”
They also have an in house band that Pastor Perada calls “A worship team.” It consists of 3 singers, one of which is the lead who also plays guitar, a second guitarist drummer and pianist and will be adding as the opportunity arises,
“Our numbers are not the heart of what we care about so much as our primary purpose of giving and serving.”
From a small acorn giant oaks are grown. I expect with a heart as big as all outdoors we shall see this Friends of the Church become giants of service in no time at all. Just sayin.
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