The History of Agape Family Worship Center
Proclaiming and Demonstrating the Love of God to the World
After hearing the voice of God to establish a new ministry in the city of Rahway, New Jersey, Agape Family Worship Center (formerly called The Love Church) met for the first time on Sunday, May 27, 1990. The location for this meeting was the garage of Pastor Larry's parents on Leesville Avenue in Rahway. The adults present were: Larry and Vanessa Powell, Gilbert and Christine Grant, Kimberly Abram, Annette Gillette, and Rebecca Powell. The children present were: Darius and CeCe Grant, Mark and Kandis Gillette. It was evident from the beginning that God's anointing was upon this infant congregation.
Immediately the word of Agape Family Worship Center's existence began to spread and the people came to be a part of the new thing that God was doing in the city of Rahway. Although there was much encouragement from well wishers both far and near, there was plenty of opposition and ridicule directed at Pastor Larry and his new congregation. Yet, despite the opposition, Agape remained undaunted in their commitment to obey the Lord rather than man and the people kept coming. Many testimonies of salvation, baptisms in the Holy Spirit, healing and deliverance confirmed that God was moving mightily through this new ministry.
From the garage, which incidentally adopted the name G.G.s (God's Garage), Agape began holding Sunday services at the Sheraton Hotel in Iselin, New Jersey while continuing to meet at G.G.s on Wednesday evenings for Bible Study. This move gave the congregation much needed space to accommodate the many people who were coming to the services. An excited congregation met for the first service at the Sheraton Hotel on Sunday, March 3, 1991 without the presence of Pastor Larry and Vanessa. As suspicions were confirmed, it was discovered that Vanessa was delivering the couple’s first child, little Miss Adria Janelle Powell, who was born that Sunday afternoon at 3:13 p.m.
The next facility move for Agape Family Worship Center was a former elementary school in on E. Hazelwood Avenue Rahway. This move was made in June 1993 and provided the congregation with more space to meet for weekly services. As a result the congregation continued to grow both spiritually and numerically.
Not only did the church grow, but the Powell family grew as well. Pastor Larry and Vanessa were blessed with the birth of Aaron Raphael on May 28, 1994, and on September 26, 1995 were graced with Miss Ashlyn Gabrielle.
Agape acquired approximately 6.5 acres of property valued at $1.5 million dollars in November 1996 and in January and June of 1997. Interestingly the property was located at the intersection of Leesville Avenue (where it all began) and E. Hazelwood Avenue (where Agape was worshiping). In the summer of 1998 Agape moved its offices into a renovated house located on the property. With additional office space and an expanded staff, Agape was better equipped to handle the daily administrative tasks of ministry in the spirit of excellence.
In February 2000, the cash necessary to retire the mortgage of the $1.3 million dollar purchase price was raised. Giving commitment pledges were also made to raise the funds required to build and furnish Agape Pointe. The theme of the giving campaign, "Arise and Build", was inspired by the story of Nehemiah, who rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem (See Nehemiah 2:20).
With "Arise & Build", Agape members were asked to seek God concerning giving to the building fund and to give by revelation rather than reason. The emphasis was equal sacrifice rather than equal gifts. Commitment Sunday and Wednesday, February 6th and 9th 2000, resulted in the largest week’s offering Agape has ever received: over $150,000! Additionally, over $1.7 million dollars was pledged above and beyond regular giving over the next three years.
On Palm Sunday, April 16, 2000, Pastor and Vanessa along with the Elders led the congregation on a march from the elementary school to break ground at the future site of Agape Pointe. Rahway Mayor James Kennedy, Councilman David Brown and other guests participated in the momentous Ground Breaking Ceremony.
In the fullness of time, on Sunday, November 4, 2001, the doors to Agape Pointe were opened and the first services were held. The new church provided Agape with much needed space to accommodate worship services, children’s and youth ministry facilities, nursery, administrative offices, bookstore, classrooms, Impact 21 Community Development Corporation, Pneuma Life School of Ministry and a state of the art audio and video recording studio.
Since opening its doors, Agape Pointe has been host to numerous conferences, concerts, recordings, revivals and other special events. On July 29, 2009, Agape Family Worship Center retired the mortgage debt of $3,750,000.00; a remarkable achievement accomplished during a severe national economic recession. Agape’s membership has grown to nearly 5,000. For the glory of God and the saving souls this great church continues, "Proclaiming and Demonstrating the Love of God to the World", confident that He Who has begun a good work will complete it even to the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6).
20 years and counting…the journey is just as important as the destination, and this is only the beginning!