The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Latest News

August 23, 2013

New Church encounters challenges

Apostolic congregation has trouble delivering message

PORTAGE — Around 20 years ago, Justin Rainey said he witnessed a man who was in need of a heart transplant – someone who had trouble walking in and out of church – leave a Pentecostal service with a spring in his step.

“He didn’t need a new heart,” said Rainey, assistant pastor of the apostolic New Church of Portage. “God gave him a new one.”

Rainey’s congregation is looking to bring its free and unstructured form of worship to the Ebensburg area. They are trying to gather those who believe in “miracles and in the healing power of Almighty God,” according to an advertisement that appeared recently in The Tribune-Democrat.

The small, 20- to 25-person congregation has been meeting along Conemaugh Avenue in Portage for more than 10 years, according to Rainey.

Rainey’s family – led by his father-in-law, Pastor Edwin Tucker – began leading the church around six years ago.

They may not have the numbers of a denominational congregation, but Rainey said they still provide a full service, which includes healing the afflicted through the power of prayer.

“If someone has a need, we will pray for them. We’ll give room for God to move,” he said.

Tucker said the perception of nondenominational churches is a tough obstacle for his church to overcome.

To that end, New Church members have organized bake sales, car washes, street carnivals and even two appearances on the Portage Area Summerfest stage to endear themselves to the community.

“To show them we’re not a bunch of wackos,” Tucker said, although he deigned to use the term. “(If it’s not a common denomination), people begin to think you’re some fly-by-night that came along. This church has been around a long time, this denomination.

“It’s not anything new.”

Rainey said the “laying hands” technique is also common spiritual practice.

“The Bible clearly tells us that ‘if there are any sick among you, let them come and let the elders of the church pray for them,’ ” he said. “We’re not going to shake them to death, but we will anoint them with oil and pray for God to heal them.

“We believe that when you come to God and you come to church, it should be more than a thing you do out of obedience. You should leave better than when you come.”

 Tucker said New Church hasn’t received many new congregants from the Ebensburg area, either through the phone number  in the advertisement or mail-in form. The deadline for response is Sept. 7.

Rainey said a meet and greet would be scheduled for Sept. 14 at an Ebensburg hotel for those interested in joining.

“If there’s not much interest then we’re not going to pursue it,” Tucker said. “I’m a little disappointed in the response.”

Justin Dennis covers Portage for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest News
  • 140407_GT_OUT_Forster_1.jpg Revolutionary War flag could fetch millions at auction

    An iconic piece of history from the Revolutionary War is up for auction through Doyle New York, an auction and appraising company in New York City.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • E-Cigarettes target youth with festivals, lawmakers say

    The findings, in a survey released Monday by members of Congress, should prod U.S. regulators to curb the industry, the lawmakers said. While e-cigarettes currently are unregulated, the Food and Drug Administration is working on a plan that would extend its tobacco oversight to the products.

    April 16, 2014

  • Boston doctors can now prescribe you a bike

    The City of Boston this week is rolling out a new program that's whimsically known as "Prescribe-a-Bike." Part medicine, part welfare, the initiative allows doctors at Boston Medical Center to write "prescriptions" for low-income patients to get yearlong memberships to Hubway, the city's bike-share system, for only $5.

    April 16, 2014

  • treadmill-very-fast.jpg Tax deduction for a gym membership?

    April marks another tax season when millions of Americans will deduct expenses related to home ownership, children and education from their annual tax bill. These deductions exist because of their perceived value to society; they encourage behaviors that keep the wheels of the economy turning. So why shouldn't the tax code be revised to reward preventive health?

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Why Facebook is getting into the banking game

    Who would want to use Facebook as a bank? That's the question that immediately arises from news that the social network intends to get into the electronic money business.

    April 16, 2014

  • Classes to resume at Franklin Regional High School

    April 16, 2014

  • 10 things to know for today

    April 16, 2014

  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 16, 2014

  • bank1 West End bank robbed

    The West End branch of AmeriServ Financial was robbed Tuesday morning, two days before the branch is scheduled to close.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos

  • weather_2 Old Man Winter returns to area

    Just when you think we’ve finally escaped the cold temperatures, winter swoops back in to remind us it’s not going away just yet.

    April 15, 2014 2 Photos


Do you think that Jack Williams will get the 270 signatures from city residents needed in order to have a referendum placed on a municipal ballot to have the city's pressure test mandate repealed?

I'm not sure
     View Results
Order Photos

Photo Slideshow

House Ads