Dennis Streno


A Church Ignited
In Pittsburgh

story
October 26, 2017
ITeams
ITeams

We are establishing long-term ministry among Bhutanese-Nepali immigrants who come from a refugee background. Although our work in Carrick is just beginning, we are partnering with pastors, churches neighbors, and community organizations. Our team is establishing deep roots and moving forward in strategic ways.

Strategically serving in the Nepali community

The Zion Christian Church sat along the busiest street in the Carrick community of south Pittsburgh. In 2010, Pastor Dan Cramer saw the influx of Bhutanese-Nepali refugees that drastically changed this urban neighborhood. He knew that he didn’t want to sit on the sidelines.

So when a local refugee resettling agency asked if they could use space in the Zion Christian Church for operating refugee services, he agreed. Dan also began visiting the new refugee families who moved into an apartment complex next to the church. This complex eventually became 95% Nepali which provided a tremendous opportunity for building relationships with these new neighbors. Spending those early hours together have turned into rich compassion for the next seven years.

A church ignited with compassion for Nepali neighbors

Here’s just a taste of the initiatives birthed out of these relationships.

  • The church’s Sunday school at Zion Christian Church is 90% Bhutanese-Nepali.

  • A group of committed teachers and assistants educates over thirty kids from Hindu backgrounds each week.

  • Through local partnerships, the church holds youth groups, youth discipleship classes, English classes for college students, and homework help for students.

  • An introductory Nepali language course was launched to equip people who wanted to learn Nepali to better connect with their neighbors.

  • An ESL program has been in place for three years.

  • The church hosts the city’s largest food pantry which meets the practical needs of dozens of Nepali refugees.

  • A professional dance teacher who attends the church has been hosting dance classes for the children and teens at Zion for the past 4 years.

Initiatives continue to mushroom and influence continues to grow. Zion has become a trusted ministry of compassion in their neighborhood.

Welcoming ITeams

It was Pastor Dan and Zion Christian Church who extended an open door to ITeams when they arrived in the Carrick neighborhood in the summer of 2015. Our community transformation director, John Trotter, has become dear friends with Dan and shares the pulpit at Zion often and teaches a class for Nepali youth every Sunday morning.

Through this partnership with ITeams, Zion Christian Church has connected with Nepali Anugraha Church of Pittsburgh, a Nepali speaking congregation. It was at Zion’s ESL program where John Trotter met the mother of the pastor of Anugraha Nepali Church. This congregation, though aging with tremendous language barriers, has become an integral part of the ministry of ITeams.

GRATITUDE

Zion Christian Church has been a catalyst and continues to teach followers of Jesus, both American and Nepali, what it looks like for the Kingdom of God to enter the Hindu community.