HISTORY OF QUEENS BIBLE CHURCH
The story of Queens Bible Church is a very special one. It is a story of diversity and unity. It is a story of two becoming one. It is the story of Flushing Bible Church and Queens Bible Church joining together under one name “Queens Bible Church.” It is the story of a church under the headship and leadership of Christ convinced of its calling to reach out primarily to Filipinos and other ethnics in the New York area and to take the banner of the gospel to every people. It is the story of God’s faithfulness and mercies renewed through the years.
THE BEGINNINGS OF QUEENS BIBLE CHURCH
The original Queens Bible Church started 9 months earlier than its sister church, Flushing Bible Church. The circumstances that led to the birth of Queens Bible Church was commonplace among foreigners in a new land — it is the factor of culture, but of course, it was orchestrated by the Lord. Although Filipinos easily adjust to the western culture because of American influence in the Philippines for many years, most of the Filipinos coming to the US long for a Filipino community for fellowship. Such was the case of some Filipino nurses who came to Queens, NY in 1985. Longing to fellowship with Filipino Christians, they travelled quite a distance to the Bronx to attend the worship service at Bronx Bible Church, one of the early Filipino congregations established in the New York City area. This situation extended for a while until Bronx Bible Church was led of God to start a ministry amongst Filipinos living in Queens. This was, indeed, an answer to the vision directed by the Lord ever since Christians from Bible Church International were burdened to pray and plant churches in the five boroughs of New York City.
It was in August of 1986 when the first Bible study was conducted by Bro. Henry Santos who was one of the leaders at Bronx Bible Church. Initially, there were four nurses who attended the first Bible study at the residence of Juliet Masiglat in Justice Ave, Elmhurst. Including Juliet, there was Thea Blancaflor, Edna Formales Escuro and Rosemarie Galvez Magdangal. Bro. Henry led the group in praying for a full-time Pastor for this beginning fellowship. God answered their prayer! Hallelujah! In October 1986, God brought a minister from the Philippines who would soon become the first pastor of then, Queens Bible Fellowship, the Rev. Delfin Orendain, Jr. Soon after he arrived in October, he attended the group’s Bible study and fellowship and in the following month, he was named the official missionary of Bronx Bible Church and Bible Church International to serve as Pastor of Queens Bible Fellowship. Through his able leadership, the small Bible study group grew and in January 18, 1987, the Queens Bible Fellowship held its first worship service at the facilities of Canaan Baptist Church, a Southern Baptist Hispanic congregation that meets at 39-08 104th Street, Corona, NY. Since that Sunday, services were held at 4:00 pm every Sunday and the Lord blessed the fellowship in many ways. QBF held its first church retreat at Niagara Falls, NY during the summer of 1987 and the first Cantata was held in December of that same year.
Early in 1988, the group was constituted and incorporated and was formally named Queens Bible Church. In April of the same year, QBC called Rev. Gene Miraflor to become its missionary to Brooklyn and Brooklyn Evangelical Fellowship was started. The following year, 1989, QBC helped in organizing the Christian Fellowship of Long Island with Rev. Gene Miraflor also as mission pastor. It also sponsored “Alay Awit” which was held at the Kalayaan Hall of the Philippine Consulate designed to foster fellowship among evangelical Christians and serve as evangelism tool to reach out other Filipinos in the area. But in June 1989, Pastor Orendain was called by the Lord to shepherd a church in New Jersey. This led the church to pray for a pastor who will continue to work with Queens Bible Church. At that time, Rev. Cicero “Cire” Bailon was already leading a group in Flushing and so, an invitation was made for him to serve at QBC also.
HOW FLUSHING BIBLE CHURCH STARTED
Concerning the ministry of Flushing Bible Church, it started with only three nurses, Faith Ladera, Anne Mendoza and Dana Bailon. It was Dana Bailon who led the Bible study when she arrived in the US in May 1987 until her husband, Pastor Cire Bailon, came in September of the same year and became the Bible study leader. Then, Pastor Bailon was called to serve as Associate Pastor of Bronx Bible Church beginning January 1988 until August of that same year when he took full-time responsibilities in the Flushing ministry. FBC held its first worship service at the home of the Bailon’s in Cherry Ave., Flushing in September 1988.
As the church in Flushing slowly grew, there was the usual tendency of people especially nurses to move from one hospital to another and so was the case here. Some of the members of FBC moved to Westchester County, NY and in September 1, 1988, a Bible study group was started in one of the dormitories of Westchester County Medical Center in Valhalla. Miss Zenaida Cueva invited Pastor Bailon to lead in prayer and exhortation on her birthday and the group continued to meet hence. Another nurse moved to Manhattan and a new group was formed there. As the ministry continued in Flushing, Westchester and Manhattan simultaneously, the Lord had been building the leadership in each of these areas through the guidance of Pastor Bailon. The members shared significantly in the work through their involvement and faithful commitment to the service of the Lord.
THE MERGING… FROM THEN ON
On July 1, 1989, Rev. Cire Bailon became the pastor of QBC, FBC, Westchester Christian Fellowship and Manhattan Bible Fellowship. The schedule for worship was convenient because FBC met for worship in the morning while QBC held its worship services in the afternoon, still in Corona, NY. By the way, QBC stayed another four months at Canaan Baptist Church until they moved in October 29, 1989 to use the facilities of Community Church of Elmhurst which they still do at the present time. The other two extension groups in Westchester and Manhattan had their regular Bible studies during the week. By November 1989, a new group was organized in New Rochelle, NY as an offshoot of the work in Manhattan. During a birthday fellowship for Christina Galsim, a Bible study was held and she got saved. Since then, a regular meeting of believers had been held.
The task of serving as a pastor to more than two churches was not easy for Pastor Bailon. In January of 1990, Queens Bible Church and Flushing Bible Church came to a merger and decided to retain the name “Queens Bible Church” for both. In April 1990, QBC called a second worker Pastor Norman Solis to serve as Associate Pastor and at the same time work as missionary to Manhattan.
The year 1991 was truly memorable. On the second Saturday of January, Westchester Christian Fellowship held its first worship service. It was on a Saturday because Rev. Bailon has a worship service to attend to every Sunday at QBC and ever since, the group has been meeting for worship every Saturday. In March, Pastor Solis was asked to lead a Bible study group in Jamaica, NY and in a month, they started having worship services every Sunday afternoon. Eventually, Pastor Norman Solis was ordained in the new church and became the full-time pastor of Living Word Fellowship. It was during the latter part of the year that a Bible study among nurses working in Harlem Hospital was started upon the request of Myra Manalo. Eric Bautista, then a seminary student and a former deacon of QBC, occasionally helped in leading this group.
Several significant events occurred in 1992. With the help of the QBC Choir presenting an Easter Cantata, the first Sunday afternoon worship service in New Rochelle was held. In June, the first Missions Sunday was celebrated together with the mission chapels and became a time of joint fellowship among the brethren. Nowadays, the annual joint church retreat has been a regular venue of fellowship among the mother church QBC, and the remaining mission chapels in Westchester and New Rochelle. In July 1992, the maiden issue of “Mabuting Balita,” QBC’s quarterly newsletter, was released. With the arrival of Rev. Felix Sermon, Jr. and his marriage to Myra Manalo in the early part of the year, the Lord opened the door for him to be part of the ministry in Queens. When Rev. Bailon had to leave at the end of August, Pastor Felix Sermon became the full-time pastor at Westchester and interim pastor of QBC. It was a sad occasion also when the Rev. Francisco Q. Bautista was called by the Lord to His heavenly home on Sept. 8, 1992. He has been a senior adviser and elder to the members of Queens Bible Church, occasionally providing pulpit ministries and counseling and was truly a big help in many ways. But the work of the Lord must continue as He is the One who called this church to be His light here in Queens. The annual retreat was held in the same month and a Christmas Cantata was celebrated on at the end of the year.
During the anniversary celebration of QBC on the last Sunday of January, 1993, Pastor Eric Bautista was called and installed as associate pastor of the church upon finishing his seminary work in Massachusetts. Pastor Sermon and Pastor Bautista took on the responsibilitIes of guiding and caring the flocks in Queens, Westchester and New Rochelle. Bound by the belief that this is God’s work and we are just His servants, the group continued to commit themselves to the work of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Several home Bible study groups were established and continued, others were reached out through special evangelistic programs like Bible and tract distributions in the Woodside-69th St. area and through annual participation in the Philippine Independence Day parade and street fair, and through concerts and cantatas. In 1994, Pastor Sermon concentrated his work in Westchester where he was originally called as a full-time worker and Pastor Bautista took full-time responsibilities at QBC. Pastor Bautista was ordained in October 1995 and until the present serves as its administrative pastor. When Pastor Sermon took on the responsibility of chaplaincy at Port Newark, Pastor Bautista supervised the work at WCF until the arrival and call of Rev. Ben Brazal. In the middle of 1998, Bro. Hexel Hernando provided a much needed help in worship and music, as well as assistance in some pastoral work. He served the church for about three years. Rev. Romeo Gonzales became the associate pastor and worship leader beginning in June 2001 until July 2012.
Today, by God’s grace and mercies, QBC is a growing church not only serving Filipinos exclusively but had been blest to have other non-Filipino speaking people in its fellowship. Its ministry among children has been a growing area that needs a lot of prayer and support. Spiritual growth in the life of members should also be taken consideration with the help of active adult Sunday School or Bible study classes as well as weekday Bible study groups. It has been a unique experience for the church, particularly, its choir members to be part of the ministry of making Christ known through participation in some cultural events participated by Filipinos. In 1995, the QBC choir took second place at the First Filipino-American Chorale Competition which was won by another Christian group, the Ugnayan Christian Fellowship Choir. Needless to say, UCF has been a constant partner and supporter of QBC in many of the Christian endeavors being held.
On the celebration of its 17th anniversary, the QBC family gives all the credit and glory to the everlasting God and Father who has faithfully sustained His work here in Queens through these past years. QBC continues to seek God’s leadership and guidance in the years ahead praying that they, too, will be faithful to His divine calling. QBC still desires to grow spiritually and in number, even in the work of ministry to reach out others. Of course, all of these dreams and aspirations will only become possible through God who gives the vision, through Jesus who gives the strength and through the Holy Spirit who shows the way. Praise the Lord!
Revised by Rosette Bautista from the same titled article prepared by Rev. Cicero Bailon, QBC pastor from July 1989 to August 1992.
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