Newly Opened Far Rockaway Community Church Represents ‘Beacon of Hope’ – QNS.com
The revival of Far Rockaway has taken another step forward with the dedication of the neighborhood’s new sanctuary for residents of all ages. Elected officials, community leaders and clergy on Tuesday, August 6, joined Rev. Dr. Les Mullings, pastor of the Community Church of the Nazarene Far Rockawayand First Lady Crescent Mullings, at the opening of the new church building at 1414 Central Ave.
“The potential that Far Rockaway always had is now more and more realized,” said Dr Mullings. “This building is a testament to our resilience and the future ahead of us. It is a place where our citizens can dream and grow their businesses. It is a crossroads where families come together and where young people feel safe. It is a place of learning for children, and it is a place of comfort and prayer. We invite our community to celebrate with us this monumental piece of our history.
The facility’s new home contains an affordable housing complex, community spaces, and a new church with a state-of-the-art sanctuary. The project took nearly 15 years to complete after a long search for a developer Mullings felt comfortable with and delays caused by Super Hurricane Sandy nearly a decade ago when the church became a FEMA site, spearheading recovery and restoration efforts in the devastated community. Rezoning as part of Far Rockaway’s downtown revitalization plan “kickstarted” the new church project.
“It’s been a long time coming but the wait was worth it,” said Queens Borough chairman Donovan Richards. “I was thrilled to be able to help celebrate the grand opening of the beautiful new community facility at the Far Rockaway Community Church of the Nazarene, which will house a daycare center and offer a culinary arts and labor program. . This is another great example of neighborhood-based development. Our places of worship do important work in uniting our communities, and they deserve a space to continue to do so.
The center includes space for The Rock Kidz, who will create a professionally led 100+ voice youth choir; The Rock Kitchen, which will train young people to become chefs or owners of a culinary business; and The Rock Studio, which will allow young people to create music, podcasts and recorded projects.
“The Rock Studio is a program for young entrepreneurs who want to start their own business but don’t have the ability or the wherewithal to know how to do it,” Mullings said. “We can incubate them for three months and then send them out with the help of industry and other organizations.”
Mullings is committed to providing the younger generation of the Far Rockaway community with a brighter future. He is the founder and CEO of Challenge Preparatory School, which currently serves nearly 1,000 K-10 students, as well as the Early College High School and Teacher Continuing Education Program which opened in August 2020. Graduates have the option of obtaining two free years. college credit or professional certification in a number of exciting careers for an underserved community where crime and economic woes have been exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Man, it’s like light in the darkness right now. It’s the beacon,” Mullings said. “It’s a paradigm shift that we’ve been waiting for to give everyone hope, and people are excited about it. The mindset has changed because of this building, and it will transform this community from a dungeon into an oasis of promise, and it works and it’s just a joy to see.