By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer
The temple in Sharon that served Jewish families until last June will be sheltering a Christian congregation when they hold their first worship service there on Sunday.
Greater New and Living Way Temple of the Apostolic Faith members are ready for a day of prayer and worship in their church that had been known for decades as Temple Beth Israel, 840 Highland Road.
“Our members are very excited about the move and we’re looking forward to expanding our ministry,” said Bishop Alvin McCoy, pastor of the church that had been at 927 Fruit Ave., Farrell.
The church was founded in 1980 in Sandy Lake and moved to Farrell a few years later where it has been known as New and Living Way Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ.
Bishop McCoy says the new name pays homage to the Jewish families who built the temple in 1950 and whose absorbtion into a temple in Youngstown last summer coincided with the Apostolic church’s plans for a new location.
“We had been planning to build in Farrell until I saw that the temple was for sale,” he said. “My wife called the realtor and that’s how the ball got rolling.”
To move in, members needed only to lay some new carpeting and give offices and classrooms some fresh paint. The temple’s good condition made buying instead of building an easy decision, Bishop McCoy said.
Alan Nathan, Hermitage, who serves on the boards of both Temple Beth Israel and Congregation Rodef Sholom, Youngstown, where Shenango Valley Jewish families are members, said they are “thrilled that the building was purchased by a relatively new and growing congregation.”
Since July, Temple Beth Israel members have been attending services and other activities at Rodef Sholom, 1119 Elm St., near Stambaugh Auditorium on Youngstown’s north side.
At its highpoint of membership, Temple Beth Israel served as many as 500 families. Its membership dwindled in recent decades to fewer than 100 individuals and families which helped to bring about the congregation’s move to Youngstown, Nathan said.
“What is important is that the building will again be brimming with life,” Nathan said. “It was built as a house of God and it should keep that purpose. It will be filled again with music and worship and everything a new congregation can give it. I can’t emphasize enough how thrilled we are that it will continue to be used as a house of prayer.”
Bishop McCoy said his church and its 100 members will open early Sunday with prayer and Sunday school before the 11:30 morning worship that is open to anyone who would like to attend.
On a weekly basis, the church will host group meetings for women and youth. It will also continue monthly dinners for about 100 senior citizens who have meals prepared at the church delivered to their homes.
When members get settled, the church plans to open a weekly soup kitchen open to all, Bishop McCoy said.
The church’s website describes itself as “Pentecostal in experience, apostolic in doctrine,” as it seeks to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel.”
Operating under the name of Apostolic Ministries Inc., the church has affiliates in Virginia Beach, Va.; Durham, N.C.; Northet, Pa.; Bay City and Saginaw, Mich.; Presque Isle, Maine; and Hemet, Calif., Bishop McCoy said.