In 2012, God instructed the Rev. Albert Tate to plant a church in Monrovia. Although surprised by the command, he obediently followed and founded Fellowship Monrovia.
Now six years later, Tate leads one of the largest congregations in San Gabriel Valley. However, size is not what makes Fellowship so distinctive, but rather it’s the composition of the membership and the breadth of the ministries.
“We are a Gospel-centered, multiethnic, intergenerational church. We exist to make disciples,” said Tate, who is pastor to 3,000+ members who worship at the church’s two campuses located in Monrovia.
As for Fellowship’s appeal to diverse cultures and ages, Tate credited the “welcoming” attitude of the parishioners. “We want people to come as they are, we don’t pass judgment. We want people to feel at home. We celebrate what makes us different, we celebrate diversity, and aren’t afraid to call that out. There are no elephants in our rooms!”
Equally important, said Tate, is the church’s focus on the Gospel. “I believe the Gospel reconciles and unites us and it doesn’t discriminate. It has something to say about everyone – rich, poor, citizen, immigrant, and more. We recognize that Jesus and His church are the greatest hope for the world,” he noted.
“It isn’t the Democratic party, the Republican party, or even money. Our faith and hope is in Jesus and Him alone. So I think when you preach the Gospel, you’re helping to tear down the walls that typically divide us (economics, politics, and more) and you realize at our core that we share more in common than what makes us different and separates us.”
That unifying principle extends to Fellowship’s ministries. Along with traditional church auxiliaries, the church offers expanded programming for young people such as a separate Sunday service for toddlers through 5th graders.
In keeping with its intergenerational theme, Tate said middle and high school are encouraged to attend the “big church on Sunday mornings” and participate in Fellowship’s weekly activities for teens. Also, seven Fellowship Camps for ages 3 to 18 will begin in the summer.
“As a church family, we just raised over one hundred thousand dollars so we can send 1,600+ kids to camp. We believe camp equals impact. Camp can be an important stepping stone in any young person’s faith journey and thus, we never want money to prohibit a family from sending their kid to camp,” said Tate.
Among church’s newer ministries is the Fellowship Center for Racial Reconciliation, which was established in 2016 in response to racial violence against African Americans, but has grown to address injustices experienced by other ethnicities of color.
“When we started having these tough conversations in our multiethnic community, we realized we were leaving a lot of people out and the things they have historically experienced and are experiencing now – Asians, Hispanics, and more,” recalled Tate.
“I think the lesson learned, as a follower of Christ, is we need eyes to see what Jesus sees and we need a heart that breaks for the things that break His and that’s plainly injustice, regardless of skin color. As a Black man I need to care just as much about the struggle of immigration and paths to citizenship that our Hispanic brothers and sisters face just as much as I need them to care about the police brutality our Black brothers and sisters are facing as well,” he said.
“It’s our job to bring these hard conversations to the forefront so we can understand one another. When we do that, that’s when we start to see things change.”
Making changes for the better has been Tate’s philosophy since accepting the call to preach in his native Mississippi in 1998. Serving as pastor of a small church in Tallahatchie County (“I grew that congregation from 7 to 12 people. No joke.”), Tate and his wife, LaRosa, moved to Pasadena where he attended Fuller Theological Seminary and worked at Lake Avenue Church.
“I was there for several years in a variety of roles. Everything from being a high school pastor to a teaching pastor,” said Tate. “It was at the tail end of my time at Lake Avenue when God gave me this vision for a Gospel-centered, multiethnic, intergenerational church and that was when Fellowship was formed.”
Thanks to the power of God, the success of Fellowship has exceeded expectations, said Tate, who admitted, “I think I have grand visions and big dreams and God continues to go above and beyond what I could ever imagine. He continues to surprise me.”
And knowing the incomparable ability of God inspires Tate to keep pressing forward with his main mission “to spread the Gospel and expand this vision of a Gospel-centered, multiethnic, intergenerational church,” he said, “because it’s something we desperately need more of in this country and world.”
To learn more about Fellowship Monrovia, call (626) 239-8109 or visit madeforfellowship.com.