Church in Cambria Heights begins expansion of parish

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The building, which will cost the church an estimated...

By Dan Trudeau

Parishioners of the rapidly growing Mount Moriah AME Church in Cambria Heights are looking to expand the parish even further by adding a large addition to their 12-year-old chapel on 116th Avenue.

The building, which will cost the church an estimated $5.5 million and likely be completed in fall 2004, is being constructed partly because the parish’s current facilities can no longer contain the large number of new members coming to the service, Rev. Robert Lowe said.

The parish has grown to more than 2,500 members in the last year, but the current chapel seats only 700.

“At present we’re doing three services every Sunday and we’re running out of room,” Lowe said.

In addition, Lowe said the new facility will allow the church to develop and expand its other ministries and projects, which include a crisis help-center, an active youth parish, a multi-media learning center and a state-of-the art recording studio and Christian record label.

He said the crisis center will help the parish continue administering aid to those in the neighborhood who are in need of financial and spiritual support.

“We have people walking in off the streets in need almost on a daily basis,” said Lowe, who noted that the youth ministry programs at Mount Moriah would help young people in the area avoid ending up in trouble.

Church member and steward Leatha Herron remembers a time in the recent past when such development would have been unimaginable, recalling that staying afloat required the church to ask financially stable members to shoulder mortgage costs on a month-by-month basis.

“There was a time that we didn’t raise enough money to pay the mortgage,” Herron said. “But God blessed us even in that because we were never late (on a payment).”

Herron is heavily involved at the church and in 1995 took charge of a daily prayer group that she said will be aided by the church’s expansion. Parishioners at the church said the prayer sessions are another example of the positive effect the parish has on the community.

Joseph Breland, who began attending Herron’s prayer groups nearly five years ago, said Mount Mariah’s ministry helped to heal illnesses that had taken away his ability to walk and talk.

“I came in here in a wheelchair. I couldn’t say more than two or three words,” said Breland, who can walk again. “God’s been good to me.”

Members of the church and community broke ground on the addition on July 5. Among those attending was City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who said the church’s record of involvement in the community earned his respect and support.

“They’re an emerging church with many community-based ministries that are very attractive to many of the people in my district,” Comrie said. “I’m happy to support them whenever I can.”

Although expensive, the project will be financed by a mortgage that Lowe said will be easily paid off with tithes from parishioners.

The extension will be connected to the current church building by a glass atrium and the new structure will be built on columns elevated above the church’s parking lot. The parking will remain intact after the construction, but probably will be inaccessible during the building process, Lowe said.

“We’re going to lose our parking lot, so it’ll be a little inconvenient, but it’s for the ultimate good,” Lowe said.

Reach Reporter Dan Trudeau by e-mail at, or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 173.

Posted 7:19 pm, October 10, 2011
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