Popular Brooklyn church celebrates 37 years

Photo by Nelson A. King

On Saturday, the church — in the heart of the Caribbean community — whose overseer is Jamaican-born Apostle Dr. Cecil G. Riley, began the celebration with an international cultural showcase.

Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana and the United States were represented, as congregants donned native colors and prepared mouth-watering national dishes “for everyone to enjoy,” according to Veronica Lyle, the church’s administrator.

“Complementing this festive occasion was cool, rhythmic steel pan music and Minister Caswell Daley’s dynamic roots lyrics,” Lyle told Caribbean Life.

She said the afternoon culminated with a “fabulous hat show competition,” featuring, in the male category, Dapper Don, Cool Clyde and Western wear.

In the ladies’ category were: Glorious Hallelujah, Mad Hatter, Sophisticated Lady and Vintage 20s.

On Sunday, two worship services were conducted at 11:30 am and 6:30 pm.

“Freedom Hall, you made it possible with your love and support, and trust,” Apostle Riley, who founded the church in April 1980, said in the anniversary journal. “You are the greatest.”

He acknowledged and thanked his wife and “helpmate for over 40 years,” Minister Eleanor Riley, “for believing in the ministry.”

“There were times when we were the only two people available to make the missionary journeys to the various churches abroad, and God saw us through,” Apostle Riley said.

Popular Jamaican gospel artiste Caswell Daley performs at the Freedom Hall Church of God celebration.
Photo by Nelson A. King

“The work has just begun,” he added. “The communities in which the Freedom Hall churches are planted shall be inhabited with a Godly seed.”

Riley said the church was established with a membership of only five adults and four children.

Today, the sanctuary, at 620 Albany Ave., accommodates more than 500 worshippers, he said.

Over the years, Freedom Hall Church of God has established branches in Florida, Jamaica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Jamaica’s New York Consul General Trudy Deans said Freedom Hall Church of God has achieved “monumental feats” by promoting social inclusion, community service and “fellowship within the community.”

She noted in her message that the church has made “tremendous contributions” to the Brooklyn and surrounding communities in, among other things, education, social and music ministries, and evangelism.

“The Consulate General of Jamaica applauds you for all the work carried out by your church and the positive impact made on the lives of our society,” Deans said.

“The church’s immeasurable contributions to the promotion and maintenance of the spiritual and social development of their community members, especially our youth, are recognized and appreciated,” she added.

Apostle Dr. Cecil G. Riley and his wife, First Lady Minister Eleanor Riley.
Photo by Nelson A. King

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