(Extensions of Remarks - October 23, 2015)

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[Extensions of Remarks]
[Pages E1522-E1523]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Publishing Office []



                           HON. ALAN GRAYSON

                               of florida

                    in the house of representatives

                        Friday, October 23, 2015

  Mr. GRAYSON. Mr. Speaker, I rise today to congratulate the 
Congregacion Mita Church on its 75th anniversary and recognize their 
contributions to the community.
  The Congregacion Mita Church was founded in 1940 in the town of 
Arecibo, Puerto Rico, by Juanita ``Mita'' Garcia Peraza. At a time when 
women were not allowed to officiate in church, Juanita became a 
trailblazer, founding her congregation with a message of love, freedom, 
and unity.
  The church began with a small group of only 11 members. In this 
founding group was Teofilo ``Aaron'' Vargas Sein, current President and 
Spiritual Leader of the church. In 1943, the congregation opened its 
first church in the humble community of Las Monjas in San Juan, Puerto 
Rico. In 1947, the church relocated to the Hato Rey sector of San Juan, 
where it is currently headquartered. A year later, in 1948, the 
congregation opened its first church outside Puerto Rico in New York 
City. As membership grew, Juanita saw the need for a new place of 
worship and in 1960 the congregation built a new church in Hato Rey.
  As part of her missionary work, Juanita established several 
ministries, social institutions, and music groups. Some of these 
include: the Ministry of Preachers and Deacons (1941), a ministry of 
volunteer neighborhood watchmen called ``Guardas'' (1947), the Strings 
Band (1950), and a bible school for children called

[[Page E1523]]

``El Consejero'' (1956). In 1957, she founded ``La Banda Mita,'' a 
marching band that is one of the premier music orchestras in Puerto 
Rico today. In 1963, the first international congregation was founded 
in the city of Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic.
  Alongside Juanita from the beginning was Aaron. Aaron began his 
Ministry at the young age of 15. He served as the church's first 
administrator, as well as the first preacher, the senior guarda, and 
the lead percussionist of the marching band. When Juanita passed away 
in 1970, Aaron assumed leadership of the Congregation.
  Under Aaron's leadership, the church grew extensively. It expanded 
nationally to Illinois (1969), Connecticut (1972), New Jersey (1976), 
Florida (1988), Massachusetts (1990), Texas (1998), Ohio (2008), and 
North Carolina (2011). It also expanded internationally to Colombia 
(1970), Mexico (1980), Venezuela (1982), Costa Rica (1986), Panama 
(1987), Ecuador (1991), Canada (1992), El Salvador (1993), and Spain 
(2000). In Florida, congregations were established in Orlando, Ocala, 
Miami, and Tampa.
  Assisting Aaron with the church's great expansion was Rosinin 
Rodriguez Perez, current Vice-President and Spiritual Leader of the 
Congregation. Together they founded institutions dedicated to provide 
social services to the community at-large. Some of these include: the 
Colegio Congregacion Mita (1981), a K-12 school in Puerto Rico 
accredited by the Middle State Association; the El Paraiso Nursing Home 
(1985), a care center for seniors; and the Office for Counseling and 
Social Work (1985). The latter provides a wide range of professional 
services by certified social workers, psychologists, and gerontologists 
free of charge to members and nonmembers everywhere the church is 
established, including Orlando, FL.
  In addition, they created music groups with the goal of developing 
love for the arts and music in children and adolescents. These include: 
the Harps Group (1987), the Children's Choir (1989), the Youth Choir 
(2004), and more recently, a Violin Orchestra (2007). Many of these 
groups, including the marching band, have smaller representations in 
most of the countries where the church is established.
  In 1990, on the occasion of its 50th anniversary, the church built 
its main house of worship in San Juan, Puerto Rico with capacity for up 
to 10,000 parishioners. Today, Mita's work continues its extraordinary 
expansion with hundreds of thousands of members in more than 300 
congregations in 12 countries around the world.
  I am happy to recognize the accomplishments of the Congregacion Mita 
Church on this memorable date, the birthday of their leader Aaron, and 
wish them continuous success in the future.