Today I attended services at RiverRock, a Pentecostal church in Buffalo, NY. Together with the BMICF (Buffalo Myanmar Indigenous Christian Fellowship), RiverRock is now housed in a former Catholic church in the Black Rock neighborhood. It is also home to services provided by Jericho Road’s Vive Shelter.
Many of those at the service were refugees from Burundi but now live in Michigan. They graciously offered a wonderful performance for the congregation (see below for video).
The head pastor, Rev. Dr. Robert Rice, a member of the Seneca Nation, permits another pastor from the Congo to give the sermon each week. He is, naturally, French-speaking and owing to this another man must translate into English–no small feat. In addition to this, there are services in Swahili, Kurundi, and other languages as the community needs. In a city with a large refugee population, this flexibility and accommodation has become standard.
It was a pleasure to join this community. I want to thank my good friend and fellow historian Rebekah for the invitation. If you are part of a religious organization, ask a friend along. It’s always easier to go to a new worship service if you are accompanied by a member who can show you around and introduce you to community members.
Before I end, I also want to mention that Rebekah is doing great work aiding formerly- incarcerated men, fighting to decrease the maximum days New York state prisoners can legally spend in solitary confinement, and also teaching and mentoring refugees and returned citizens at Houghton College Buffalo. <– Check these organizations out.