Vietnamese church starting small in Pleasant Hills, dreaming big
As hundreds of parishioners attend services at the Pleasant Hills Community Presbyterian Church, members of the Pittsburgh Vietnamese Presbyterian Fellowship take part in their own service in a secondary chapel at the church.
The service on a recent Sunday began at 10 a.m., with 25 with members singing hymns alternating in Vietnamese and English. Readings and prayers lasted about 90 minutes.
Church elder George Tichi gave the children's sermon in English and spoke to a handful of teenagers about loving their neighbors, referring to the late TV icon Fred Rogers.
The Vietnamese fellowship, the only such congregation in the Pittsburgh area, currently is without a pastor.
Lam Nguyen from Akron, Ohio, and several other pastors have been taking turns traveling to the church to give Sunday sermons. “We have to fill these seats,” Nguyen said in Vietnamese.
Sermons can be listened to in English through a portable translator.
Tichi established the Vietnamese church in 2003 when he moved to Pittsburgh from California with his wife, Be Thi. The church lasted about two and a half years.
“When we got married, she had very little English. I just felt like I needed a place for her to worship,” Tichi said. “Just knowing all these people where Vietnamese is their primary language and their customs are different, it just seemed natural that we should have a congregation.”
About 2,500 residents of Allegheny County claim to be of some Vietnamese descent, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.
Another effort to get the Vietnamese fellowship going was made in 2008.
The group received help from the Pittsburgh Presbytery's New Church Development program, which assists in creating new parishes in the area.
The parish gathered at Third Congregation Presbyterian Church in Shadyside for about 18 months, then moved to Pleasant Hills Community Presbyterian Church on Old Clairton Road so members could worship on Sunday mornings instead of in the evenings, Tichi said.
“There was no Vietnamese church in Pittsburgh,” church treasurer Thuy Le said. “When they started the church, I (wanted) to go because I am Vietnamese.”
Community based, the parish hosts two Bible studies a week as well as dinners for major holidays, including the Vietnamese new year, Le said. The lunar holiday comes at the end of January and lasts 10 days.
The congregation has about 60 members, from 25 families in Green Tree, South Park, Crafton, Jefferson Hills and Brookline.
Unlike the days when people of the same culture lived in a certain neighborhood, there is no central Vietnamese community, Tichi said. “The Vietnamese are dispersed throughout” the region, he said. “There is no one place where there are more (Vietnamese) than somewhere else.”
Brittany Goncar is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5803 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Brentwood officials plan rules for overgrown trees
- Brentwood officials committed to leveling municipal building
- Jefferson Regional Foundation awards grants
- Bridge replacement to close section of Streets Run in Baldwin Borough
- Whitehall man plans rally to raise awareness of addiction, overdoses
- Police investigating Baldwin Borough shooting
- Child-care services in works at West Jefferson Hills
- Baldwin-Whitehall to pay teachers $850,000 settlement
- Whitehall officials to examine borough parks
- Whitehall man’s hearing set for child pornography case