The only known U.S. Portuguese-language congregation, the Portuguese Mission Church of Christ, in the “Ironbound” district of Newark will hire its first full-time minister, Ricardo Cornetione, in January, said Bob Weber, minister of the Chatham, N.J., church.
Cornetione will complete training at the SerCris preaching school, Campo Grando, Brazil, in October before beginning work in Newark. His duties will include personal evangelism, Bible class teaching and occasional preaching.
Joao Mendes, a founding member of the congregation who works full time at a vocational job, will continue to preach for the church.
The Chatham church plans to provide some of Cornetione’s support, with additional funds from the Echo Lake church, Westfield, N.J.; the SerCris school; and the 35-member Portuguese church itself, Weber said.
The Portuguese congregation began in the Echo Lake building in 1995 before moving to its own location in Newark three years ago, said Maria Matos Wilk, also a founding member. Mendes and Wilk have roots in the churches of Christ in Brazil. The congregation’s founding was reported in the October 1995 Chronicle. Veteran Brazilian missionaries Ellis Long, Mike Martin and Charley Huffman assisted in that beginning.
Carl Royster of 21st Century Christian, Nashville, Tenn., which publishes the church directory, “Churches of Christ in the United States,” says his most recent data shows no other Portuguese congregations in the United States.
The district in Newark where the church meets is called the “Ironbound” section because it is surrounded by railroad tracks, Weber says. It traditionally has had a large Portuguese-speaking population of varied ethnicities, most recently an influx of people from Brazil.
In two neighboring communities, Kearny and Belleville, 25 percent of school children come from Portuguese-speaking homes, Mendes said .
Although the congregation’s members are primarily Brazilians and worship in Portuguese, the group worships periodically with a Spanish-speaking congregation at Perth Amboy, N.J., Weber said.
The 2003 “Churches of Christ in the United States” lists Hudson County, New Jersey, as its number 8 national priority for church planting. Hudson County, home to the community of Kearney, is adjacent to Essex County, Newark’s locale.