Former Spanish Assembly now Newfound Life Worship Center

Pastor Mike and Gloria Zapata Pastor Mike and Gloria Zapata Newfound Life Worship Center in east Rockdale has a new name, a new pastor, a new independence from denominational ties – and a lot of familiar faces.

Members of Spanish Assembly of God voted to separate from the Assembly of God organization in Central Texas, and to adopt a new name.

Rev. Max Rosas, 79, announced his retirement after 31 years pastoring the church. Church members voted to appoint Rosas’ son-in-law, Mike Zapata, as the new pastor.

Rosas served for 15 years as presbyter of the Waco sector of the Assemblies of God, and held several other denominational posts. He served as pastor of the church for a year and a half in the early 1960s, again for 18 months starting in 1980, and for the 29 years leading up to his retirement.

Rosas will continue to work with the Spanish-language group that meets at 9 a.m. on Sundays at the church, 210 Houston Street in Rockdale

Mike and Gloria Zapata started an English-language Bible study and worship group in June 2011 that has grown to 50 to 60 in the 11 a.m. Sunday service.

The couple said Sunday that the membership does not have differences on theology with the denomination, but that it would be difficult to continue to grow within the larger organization’s structure.

Mike Zapata has been known to state during his sermons that he himself doesn’t like to be at church. He and his wife regularly lead the congregation into the streets with a message.

They reach out to people who are struggling with substance abuse and other problems, and they seek out working partnerships with other churches and ministries.

Oct. 26 was the kind of Saturday that’s becoming typical for the new congregation – street evangelism in some of the roughest corners of east Rockdale, working with UMatter Street Ministries of Waco.

That night, members of Spanish Assembly of God’s praise team led worship in a Mission Waco homeless shelter. Other Saturdays find teens and adults delivering meals to shut-ins, attending Spirit Fest, or taking a strictly fun trip to SeaWorld.

To ready the lay ministers for street work, there’s Bible study on Wednesdays, band and youth band two other nights, and a Sunday evening prayer service to kick off the week.

As the couple and their children Michael, 14, and Bianca, 11, have focused on building a congregation, Mike Zapata has relegated his Christian metal band, Fireproof, to the back burner.

Fireproof bandmate Chris Rubio is in the praise band at Newfound Life, along with Gloria and Michael Zapata and youth director Janice Cowen.

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2013-11-28 digital edition

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