Church Draws Inspiration From Improving Community

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If every church's biblical commission is to reach out and into the community, and to touch the lives of people, a congregation must be united and whole.

Senior Pastor Robert J. Rocca, of the Payson First Assembly of God Church, said his church members are a group of people working toward the common good of the community.

"One of our new philosophies is that we don't want to just be in our building, we want to be out of our building and to try and touch needs in the community." Rocca said.

Benevolence ministry is part of First Assembly's long-range goal to expand services further into the community.

An example the church's altruism is their desire to help working families who might otherwise fall through the system.

Although there are other larger food banks in Payson, First Assembly's congregation has started stocking their own. The church's food bank always accepts donations; monetary contributions are strictly used to buy canned goods.

Over the past year, members have defined their core values as relationship, evangelism, anointing, community and heaven.

These values provide the church's purpose: reaching to God in worship; reaching out to the community in evangelism to those without Christ; and reaching to other worshippers in discipleship, fellowship and ministry.

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According to Rev. Robert Rocca of the Payson First Assembly of God Church, Pentecosts believe they need to be filled with the Spirit on a regular basis and be empowered by Jesus. Then they go forth and tell others. "We not only believe the gifts of the spirit (found in Corinthians) do move in our church, we want them to have freedom in our sanctuary ministry," said Rocca.

"We have very good people. First Assembly of God is alive and very well in this town." Rocca said. "The ministry my wife, Kimberly, and I have been called to is helping churches out after they have been in hard spots. We've successfully done that with several other churches prior to coming here."

In addition to helping other congregations, First Assembly's goal is a strong commitment to the area's youth.

The church formed KidCare, certified by the Department of Economic Security, last August to fulfill a need for after-school child development. The program provides a safe place for children who might otherwise wait at home unsupervised.

Homework tutoring is provided so that parents can spend time with their children when they get home from work.

Rocca smiled as he relayed the story of a child in the day care program. The child who received extensive homework help in reading, told Rocca the other day, "‘Guess what? I got all A's!'" That's the kind of thing that makes it worthwhile," said Rocca.

Arts, crafts, Bible study, practical living skills and snacks are also provided.

The summer program will run weekdays from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and includes field trips.

First Assembly of God Church is also well known for its Christmas and Easter productions.

"We like to have big events ... and keep it all new and fresh," said Rocca. The pastor estimated that last Halloween Quest and Hell House had drew in an impressive crowd.

Rocca anticipated a similar turnout for Easter Fest. The patriotism-themed Independence Day is still in the planning stages.

First Assembly of God is located at 1100 W. Lake Drive. Sunday services are at 9:15 a.m., 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m.

This story is a another part of the Roundup's continuing series on how the churches in the Rim country add beauty and grace to our community.

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