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Lahaina church celebrates 23 years of service to the Filipino community

By Staff | Apr 29, 2010

From left, West Maui County Council candidate Elle Cochran, Diana and Benny Mariano, Cedie Companero of Koinonia Pentecostal Church, Ed Gazmen of Wailuku Community Church, and Victor Bellarosa and Gene Viglione of Light Bringers celebrate International Christian Fellowship’s 23rd anniversary on March 28.

LAHAINA — Twenty-three years ago, International Christian Fellowship began with ten people holding Sunday services in a member’s home or garage.

Pastor Rev. Benny Mariano and his wife, Diana, launched the Pentecostal church with a crusade at the Lahaina Armory in Kamehameha Iki Park in March 1987.

A positive force in West Maui’s Filipino community, the church has never had an official home base.

Sunday services are held at Princess Nahienaena Elementary School, Bible Study sessions move among members’ homes, and young people may be taken to the beach for ministry.

The message of the church is what’s important to Benny.

“Our obligation to the Filipino community is to do counseling, participate in any activities, to pray for them and help those who are in need, and gather young people to be trained to be a law-abiding citizen — especially in the law of God,” he said.

The small church staff offers Filipino Bible Study ministry; hospital visits; baptisms; wedding ceremonies; house blessings; funeral services; praying for the sick, troubled and even young athletes with upcoming games; and workshops on singing and dancing.

This is accomplished with help from Assistant Pastor and Youth Pastor Pablo Celiz, Filipino Pastor Alfredo Valiente Jr., Assistant Pastor Jayson Albino, President Prudencio Agonoy, Secretary Annie Niztche, Treasurer Grace Tom and Assistant Julia Vergara.

Rufina Alipio and Sally Agonoy run the Sunday School, Diana Mariano and Aida Cabatic head the Missionary Department, and Nora Bulosan is in charge of the Building Fund.

The church has grown “by the help of our faithful members in their giving and donations and love from other people,” Benny commented.

“Our church vision and plan is that we can serve more of the community and the Filipinos here on the island.”

International Christian Fellowship purchased a property on Prison Street. Once the permitting process is done, “we are ready to build the church here in Lahaina,” he added.

Members proudly celebrated the church’s 23rd anniversary on March 28 with a party and youth rally.

 “It was a joyful celebration with the presentation of different churches and messages about youth to challenge them to be an example in words, faith and purity,” he explained.

Sunday School is held at Princess Nahienaena Elementary School from 9 to 10 a.m., followed by a Divine Service from 10 to 11:30 a.m. A service for young people is held from 7 to 9 p.m.

Filipino Bible Study sessions are held Tuesdays at 7 p.m., Prayer Meetings begin at 7 p.m. on Thursdays, Youth Bible Study sessions are held at 7 p.m. Fridays, and Praise and Worship Workshops are often held Saturdays. For information, call 276-7167.