Growing New London church celebrates new building
New London — Pastor Josué Rosado said he’s known of his calling to be a pastor since he was 8 years old.
That's when a preacher came to his church in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, where he grew up, and while praying together, the preacher told Rosado and his parents that God was speaking to her.
“She said God was telling her that my calling, like my father’s, was to also be a pastor,” Rosado recalled on Sunday. “And so my whole family accepted that calling from then on.”
Then, at the age of 31, Rosado again received a similar prophecy — the catalyst that would eventually bring him to New London. While serving as a pastor in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, a different preacher told Rosado, in front of his congregation, that God was telling him that Rosado would move to serve in a place he had never heard of.
Two years later, in 2011, that prophecy became a reality when Rosado accepted a position to serve at the Oasis de Restauración, a Christian Pentecostal church.
Since relocating to the city with his wife and two children, all of whom did not speak English at the time, Rosado has not only acted as the church’s leader, but has transformed it into an active community, tripling its membership over the past seven years.
Because of that rapid expansion, the church, starting in 2016, sought a larger space.
On Sunday, Rosado celebrated two milestones with his congregation: the church’s 58th anniversary and the dedication of its new $1.2 million worship space at 35 Redden Ave., a former Baptist church that it officially purchased last month. In addition to its large worship area, the church is complete with banquet halls, offices and classrooms.
Since 2001, Oasis de Restauración had operated out of space at 138 Garfield Ave. after having bumped from space to space since the 1960s, first holding services out of various homes, and even a driving school. The church sold the Garfield Avenue building.
Officially founded in 1962 by the Rev. Ernesto Carrión as Iglesia Cristiana Pentecostal of New London, but informally established here in 1960, the church is the oldest Hispanic congregation in the city. It has acted as a welcoming and supportive community for Latino Americans and immigrants living in New London over the past 58 years.
Carrión, according to his son Abraham, who is still a member of the church and who has been living in New London since the age of 9, was inspired by a dream to start a Christian Pentecostal church in New London.
Carrión had already been preaching at New Haven’s Star of Jacob Christian Church, which he helped start and build. But in 1960, after dreaming of driving down Interstate 95 and seeing a sign with an arrow pointing to New London, Carrión knew his work was needed in the Whaling City.
Having seen the church grow over the last five decades, Abraham described Rosado’s presence over the last seven years and the church’s recent expansion as a “sign of God’s love.”
“It’s like in the story of Moses and Joshua, when Joshua was tasked to follow in Moses’ footsteps,” added Efrain Dominguez Jr., a city councilor and a long-time member of the church who translates Rosario’s bilingual services. “That’s what Pastor Josué has been for us after he took the church over from Pastor Cándido Rivera.”
Many of the church's 240 active members have been with the church since the 1960s, while newer parishioners have been attracted to Rosado’s lively and fresh take on preaching after meeting him through outreach efforts.
Rosado said he regularly makes a concerted effort to meet people beyond the parish, visiting prisons, hospitals and other locations such as the Mohegan Sun. Within the church, Oasis has also expanded the scope of its ministries and services, establishing youth and support groups.
“He really offers a fresh take on the word of God, with his youthful and vibrant energy. It’s been his presence inside and outside the church over the last seven years that has really allowed this place to grow,” Dominguez said, describing a lively, close-knit community. “He’ll start dancing, he’ll strut down the aisle, and he’ll inspire everyone else to start dancing.”
“He is our catalyst,” Dominguez continued. “I’m empowered when I come here. He empowers me and everyone who comes. When I come here I receive hope, the strength to keep going, no matter where life takes you.”