Matthews may soon be home to a new multi-cultural house of worship.
In 2004, Bishop Rev. Louis Ngomo Okitembo established Mount Tabor Ministries, a Matthews nonprofit dedicated to using faith-based outreach to minister to people of international cultures and families facing hard times.
Now, almost nine years later, he’s hoping to expand the ministry and establish Mount Tabor Catholic Church near where Matthews, Mint Hill and Charlotte meet.
Okitembo has his eye on a church building at 4124 Margaret Wallace Road in Matthews, which he said has recently been rented out to church groups but isn’t owned by any church organization.
Because his congregation currently meets out of his home, and because he wants to expand Mount Tabor’s outreach, Okitembo is hoping to buy the building and establish a permanent house of worship.
Okitembo said he’s seen a need in the community for a church like Mount Tabor, particularly because there’s a lack of programs and services geared toward the French-speaking population. Okitembo is a native of Congo who speaks French.
“There’s so many (French-speaking) people who stay at home because (they) do not understand English,” Okitembo said. “We want them to be part of American society … to preach to them, but we need to establish a strong community here.”
Okitembo said he’d like to hold multiple services, including services in English, French and, potentially, some African languages. He’d also like to hold outreach events geared toward these populations.
But to do all this, the church needs to raise about $252,000 for a down payment on the building. Okitembo is donating the proceeds of his new book, “In Everything Give Thanks: The Power of Gratitude,” to the building fund. The book is already available in English and soon will be published in French and Spanish. He’s also established a fundraiser online at www.gofundme.com and is working to spread the word throughout the community.
“When people give a donation, when they are buying this book, they’re helping us accomplish our goal of a down payment,” he said. “We would like the whole community to support us as we try to get there.”
Want to help?
For more information or to buy Okitembo’s book, visit www.mounttaborministries.org or www.gofundme.com/1ka1l4.