October 23, 2015 - Issue: Vol. 161, No. 156 — Daily Edition114th Congress (2015 - 2016) - 1st Session
RECOGNIZING THE CONGREGACION MITA CHURCH ON ITS 75TH ANNIVERSARY; Congressional Record Vol. 161, No. 156
(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 [www.gpo.gov] RECOGNIZING THE CONGREGACION MITA CHURCH ON ITS 75TH ANNIVERSARY ______ 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. ____________________