215. The Beginning of Our Church / En Chin Chen / 04/2016

The Beginning of Our Church

Written by En Chin Chen

The year 1972 was the year the youngest of our four children was born. Now that we had four children under the age of six, my mother-in-law came from Taiwan to live with us. My own parents also came to visit us from Taiwan, bringing our household to a family of ten. It was the beginning of the busiest time of my life as I would spend the next 20 years raising our four children.

In 1973 I received a call from Siong-Bi, Elder Chen’s daughter, who was encouraged to get a group of Taiwanese Christians in the area together to start a Bible study. She had invited us to join her at her home for the study, but with four small children, I could not attend. However, I sent my husband, who was not baptized at the time to take my father with him to the study. At that meeting, Siong-Bi proposed to attract more Christians and to meet together every other week. She then came to my home with another fellow Taiwanese, and together we prayed, asking God to help us with our effort.

After a few weeks of Bible studies, we decided to hold regular Sunday services at my home with my father Rev. L.S. Shaw presiding at the service. There were about twenty people in the Washington area that joined us weekly for Sunday services at our home for the next six months. During these six months, we started a tradition of preparing a simple lunch or snacks so that we could eat and socialize with each other after service. Some members felt uncomfortable with that, claiming that the group should concentrate on the service, but in fact this was a very important part of our fellowship. It was there that we joined together with God as a family, caring for each other as brothers and sisters.

This tradition was not new, but rather carried over from the 1940s when my father was an interim minister at Sin-Tiam church. Though I was only ten, I remember some members of our church whose family had to walk four hours over the mountain trails in order to attend church every Sunday. During the service, I would prepare lunch for the ten or so people so that they would be well fed before they set out on their long hike back home. So it always came instinctively to me that lunch would always follow a Sunday service.

After six months of holding the service at our home in Camp Springs, we decided to look for a more central location in the Silver Spring area. We decided to rent a room from a church to hold our worship services. What impressed me most, though, was that after service everyone worked together to clean up that room. Regardless of whether we were doctors or lawyers during the week, we were all janitors after service every Sunday.

However, our children still did not have a place where they could learn Christian teaching. Because they spoke English at home, it was hard for them to understand the teachings at our Taiwanese services. We then shortly decided to take our children to join a local English speaking church where they would be able to understand the worship and teachings.

Thirty years has since gone by. As I look back I can see plenty of fond memories. It has truly been a pleasure to see how far our church has grown since that small meeting thirty years ago.


Current Church in Derwood, MD, built in 2012


First pastor, Enchin Chen’s father, Rev. L.S. Shaw (蕭樂善牧師)



Source from 華府基督長老教會 三十年特刊 / 11/2003

Posted in 04/2016