Status Of Brother Sparagna
Most of you will recall the sensational news of how brother Anieeto Sparagna, former priest, became a member of the church of Christ on October 15, 1950. You remember, too, that we fought a hard fight to prevent the Roman church from using the American courts to penalize him for leaving the Catholic church. It is now time for him to go to Canada and re-enter America in order to obtain his permanent visa.
The Baptism Of Brother Sparagna
In February of 1960, about seven months before brother Sparagna ever heard of the church of Christ, he became affiliated with the Immanuel Baptist Church of Chester, Pennsylvania. He was immersed at that time by a Baptist preacher in order to remission of sins upon a simple confession of faith in Jesus Christ. This was brother Sparagna's understanding. A short time later, in the same month, he was ordained as a free minister of the gospel, but not as a Baptist minister. At the time of his baptism he felt that the Baptists were the nearest to New Testament Christianity. However, he had a definite understanding with them that he must be free to affiliate with any other religious group with whom he might choose to work. He never received support from the Baptists in the way of a salary nor was he considered by them to be a Baptist preacher.
Brother Sparagna Becomes A Member of the Trenton church When I met brother Sparagna in September and told him about the church of Christ, he was overjoyed. After a few discussions he expressed his desire to become a member of the church of Christ. At that time the Trenton Church was conducting a gospel meeting. The members of the Trenton church were told about brother Sparagna's desire to become affiliated with the church. After consulting with them, the visiting evangelist and others, it was decided that it was not necessary to request that brother Sparagna be baptized again. He declared that he had been immersed in order to remission of sins, but if the brethren insisted, he would be very willing to be baptized again. The brethren did not insist and during the meeting at the close one of the services, he went forward at the invitation extended by the visiting evangelist. He made a public statement repudiating the errors of his past life and requested the prayers of the church. Former releases by me concerning brother Sparagna's conversion did not contain all these details because I did not consider it necessary. I truly regret this and I now realize it would have been better to have stated the full details from the tint.
The Camden Building
On the trip which brother Sparagna and I made over the country among the churches I showed a picture of a building in Camden that is still available. We did not raise sufficient money to purchase the building. But every cent that has been given for a building in Camden will be used for that purpose. The building can be bought for $26,000. It is estimated that renovation and preparation for church use will require $10,000 more. We have about $10,000 available for a building and the promise of $6,000 more when we get ready to buy. Less than half of this amount was given specifically for a building. If our present monthly contributions continue and increase, the entire amount can be used for building purposes. However, present monthly pledges are below our present expenses. The elders of the church in Philadelphia are backing us in the Camden work by furnishing twenty-two active members who live in Camden to form the nucleus of the new congregation. It is their judgment as well as that of the Flushing elders that we should rent a building temporarily. It should also be pointed out that the promise of our work in New York City may necessitate the expansion of the building facilities in Flushing.
The Work In New York
The work in New York is also progressing. We have the addresses of 5,083 families in an area eleven blocks wide and thirty blocks long in the vicinity of the Flushing church to whom we are sending an eight page (6 x 9) monthly paper called "The Visitor." About one hundred families have been visited. I am teaching an adult Sunday morning Bible class, preaching three times a month, and conducting two cottage services each week.
Brother Sparagna's Permanent Visa
In order for brother Sparagna to obtain his permanent visa he has had to wait two years beginning with his non-Catholic affiliation with the Baptist Church. His ordination as a Baptist minister is dated February, 1950. Brother Sparagna will be provided with all necessary papers for this trip to Canada. The Flushing church elders have written a letter stating that brother Sparagna was ordained a Baptist minister February, 1950, but is now an evangelist of the Flushing church of Christ and will be supported by it. This is in the form of an affidavit. There will be no form of deception practiced in obtaining this visa.
We are deeply grateful for the support, sympathy and cooperation of our brethren in the Lords' work. We have no desire to do anything but what is scriptural, right and honest. That is the work of the Lord. This must not suffer even if it means the loss of all things for us. May God help us to glorify Him and to do His work.