August 28, 2008

Pentecostal Church Branch Gets OK for Dublin Location

By Sophia Kazmi

DUBLIN -- A Nigeria-based Pentecostal church will soon have a branch in Dublin.

Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries got approval from the Planning Commission this week to operate a church in a commercial suite on Dublin Boulevard near Silvergate Drive.

The Dublin congregation will be small -- about 20 adults and 15 children -- and will be using a 1,900-square-foot office suite.

But the mother church is huge. Its Web site claims that more than 200,000 people have been known to attend a single service.

The church was founded in 1989 in Nigeria by Daniel Kolawole Olukoya, a researcher with a Ph.D in molecular genetics. The church has since grown, and it now has branches all over the world, including branches in San Jose and Hayward.

Members who'll comprise the Dublin congregation will come from as far away as Antioch and Stockton to attend services, said member Benga Olayomi.

"We are very small, we are community oriented, tight knit," he said. "We take care of each other. We welcome everybody."

But like many congregations, Olayomi said, they would like to grow. When that happens, they plan to move to another location, he said.

Almost all of the church's members were part of other faiths before joining Mountain of Fire and Miracles, he said.

The church will operate 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays for services, and 7 to 9 p.m. Wednesdays for interdenominational revival services.

A "Power Must Change Hands" service takes place the first Saturday of each month, concluding a fast that begins at midnight the Thursday before and a night vigil is held from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. the third Friday of every month.

Part of the conditions of approval for the church's use permit is that the church hours be different from the normal business hours the other office complex tenants keep.

Olayomi described the church's services as very uplifting with much clapping, singing and praising. Members at times speak in tongues, and pray and fast a lot, Olayomi said.

The church's name refers to Biblical fire references and as a metaphor for spiritual purification and Biblical miracles, member Tim Umana said.

Olayomi joined the church through his wife, who was a member. Umana learned more about Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministries during a retreat in Atlanta a few years ago.

He said he felt a connection there he hadn't felt before. He also liked that congregants can discuss personal issues during services.

"It was different," Umana said. "They teach you the deep spiritual meaning of stuff. Like the fire we were talking about -- it has spiritual meaning."

Reach Sophia Kazmi at 925-847-2122 or [email protected]

Originally published by Sophia Kazmi, Valley Times.

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