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Newly opened Far Rockaway Community Church represents ‘a beacon of hope’

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Rev. Dr. Les Mullings welcomes all to the new Far Rockaway Community Church of the Nazarene, a beacon of hope to the neighborhood. (Photo by Adrian Childress)

The Far Rockaway renaissance passed another milestone with the grand opening of the neighborhood’s new sanctuary for residents of all ages. Elected officials, community leaders and clergy on Tuesday, Aug. 6, joined Reverend Doctor Les Mullings, the pastor of the Far Rockaway Community Church of the Nazarene, and first lady Crescent Mullings, at the opening of the church’s new building at 1414 Central Ave.

“The potential that Far Rockaway has always had is now being realized more and more,” Dr. Mullings said. “This building is a testament to our resilience and to the future before us. It is a place for our citizens to dream and grow their businesses. It is a hub for families to gather and for young people to feel safe. It is a place for children to learn, and it is a place of comfort and prayer. We welcome our community to celebrate this monumental piece of our history with us.”

The new facility house contains an affordable housing complex, community spaces and a new church facility with a state-of-the-art sanctuary. The project took nearly 15 years to complete after a long search for a developer Mullings felt comfortable with and delays caused by Superstorm Sandy nearly a decade ago, when the church became a FEMA site spearheading recovery and restoration efforts in the devastated community. The rezoning under the city’s Downtown Far Rockaway Revitalization Plan “kickstarted” the new church project.

“It’s been a long time coming, but the wait was worth it,” Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said. “I was thrilled to be able to help celebrate the official opening of the Far Rockaway Community Church of the Nazarene’s gorgeous new community facility, which will house a daycare center as well as provide a culinary arts and workforce program. This is yet another tremendous example of neighborhood-first development. Our houses of worship do important work uniting our communities, and they deserve space to continue to do so.”

The center includes space for The Rock Kidz, which will create a 100-plus voice youth choir led by professionals; The Rock Kitchen, which will train youth to become a chef or a culinary business owner; and The Rock Studio, which will enable young people to create music, podcasts and recorded projects.

“The Rock Studio is a program for young entrepreneurs who want to start their own business but don’t have the capacity or the wherewithal to know how to do so,” Mullings said. “We can incubate them for three months and then send them out along with help from the industry and other organizations.”

Mullings is committed to offering the younger generation of the Far Rockaway community a better future. He is the founder and CEO of Challenge Preparatory School, which currently serves almost 1,000 students in K-10, as well as the Continued Teacher Education program and Early College high school that opened in August 2020. Graduates have the chance to get two free years of college credit or trade certification in a number of exciting careers for an underserved community where crime and economic issues were exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Man, this is like the light in the darkness right now. This is the lighthouse,” Mullings said. “This is a paradigm shift that we’ve been waiting for to give everybody hope, and people are excited about it. The mindset has shifted because of this building, and it will turn this community from a dungeon into an oasis of promise, and it’s working and it it just a joy to behold.”

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