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Members from Elim United Methodist Church, Manantiales de Vida Pentecostal Church and other neighboring churches pray together in thanksgiving for the fact that no lives were lost when a 30-square-foot section of the ceiling of Elim fell on Easter. Photo by Greater New Jersey Conference.

Photo by Greater New Jersey Conference.

Members from Elim United Methodist Church, Manantiales de Vida Pentecostal Church and other neighboring churches pray together in thanksgiving for the fact that no lives were lost when a 30-square-foot section of the ceiling of Elim fell on Easter.

The Rev. Leo Park, pastor of Elim United Methodist Church in Rahway, New Jersey. Park  led the April 12 service of thanksgiving. Photo by Greater New Jersey Conference.

Photo by Greater New Jersey Conference.

The Rev. Leo Park, pastor of Elim United Methodist Church in Rahway, New Jersey. Park led the April 12 service of thanksgiving.

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Easter miracle in New Jersey

A UMNS Feature
By Gustavo Vasquez

April 15, 2015 | UMNS

Members from Elim United Methodist Church, Manantiales de Vida Pentecostal Church and other neighboring churches worshipped together to remember the “Easter miracle” in Rahway.

While the Pentecostal congregation, which rents out the space from the Korean church, was holding Easter service April 5, they heard a cracking sound. A moment later, a 30-square-foot section of plaster from the ceiling fell. Though falling debris injured 14 people, none of the injuries were serious.

“The ceiling was falling down but surely God was watching over us. It was a real miracle,” said the Rev. Leo Park, pastor at Elim United Methodist.

Investigators have looked into the cause of the collapse, but have not yet come to a conclusion about the cause.

“Our church plans the worship with two basic goals,” Park said. “First, come together as one body to express our gratitude to God for his mercy; second, to comfort our brothers from Manantiales de Vida.” 

Worship service another miracle

The April 12 service was led by Park; Pastor Cesar Caceres of Manantiales de Vida; Manuel Sardinas, superintendent of the Gateway North District; and leaders from the International House of Prayer in Rahway. There were around 300 participants who wore red T-shirts that read “Easter Miracle.” 

“After the incident I have seen one miracle after another. This worship is one of them,” Park said. “We were together with children and parents who were able to leave the building before the collapse. And I just think of my congregation where there are people on their 90s who could not come out as fast as that kind of emergency situation requires.”

Trinity United Methodist Church in Rahway and its pastor, the Rev. Michael Howard, will host Manantiales de Vida Church during the reconstruction process.

Park emphasized that “when we finish the reconstruction, we hope to work on joint projects (with Manantiales de Vida Church) to develop more ministries to benefit our community.”

*Vasquez is director of Spanish resources for United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn. Contact him at GVasquez@UMCOM.ORG or 615-742-5111.