In 2014, after four years of much prayer and preparation, the Rev. Dr. D. Najuma Smith-Pollard founded Word of Encouragement Community Church (WOECC) in Los Angeles.
At the time, she told the Sentinel, “The new assignment has been a passion brewing in my heart since 2010. But, I was clear then that I needed to remain steadfast where I was and wait on the timing of the Lord.”
When God gave the sign, Smith-Pollard launched WOECC and now, she and the congregation will mark their 4th year of Christian and community service.
The celebration is set for Saturday, April 21, at 9 a.m., at the WOECC worship site located at 1153 Valencia Street in Los Angeles. The agenda includes breakfast, music, comedy and more.
The Rev. Dr. Sonja R. Dawson, pastor of New Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, will be the keynote speaker and actor/comedian Lonnie Brown will be the emcee.
The event will also serve as a kick-off for WOECC’s fundraising campaign, The Seed Project, to obtain their own facility. The ticket donation is $35 for adults and $15 for youth ages 15-to-19.
Reflecting on reaching this milestone, Smith-Pollard said, “I feel absolutely grateful and humbled. Church planting is not an easy assignment. It requires more than good preaching! [It] only works because of the people that show up week-after-week and the leaders who give of their time, talent and treasure.”
In addition to the congregation, Smith-Pollard receives endless support from her husband, Felix, who also serves as WOECC’s music director; the Rev. Dr. Cecil ‘Chip’ Murray, her father-in-ministry; and Craig Taubman, the owner of the facility who offered the location to WOECC.
While Smith-Pollard has learned and grown from her experiences in the last four years, she said the two valuable lessons have helped her to stay on the course.
“First, don’t take 90% of anything personal,” she insisted. “It’s not about Najuma, it’s about what the Lord wants to do in this city for the people and I’m a vessel! Second, love people. My job is to love people and see value in each person the Lord sends our way, and love on them from a Christ-centered place. My goal is to always lead from love.”
Looking towards the future, Smith-Pollard hopes to be worshipping in WOECC’s new facility in the next five years. Her goal is that the edifice will contain a sanctuary, store, café, school, business incubator, social justice arm and a global ministry office.
“Where I would like to see us in 10 years is WOECC having launched mission churches and ministries,” she added. “That all being said, I do believe my vision may still be too small compared to what Ephesians 3:20 tells us about our God ‘who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us.’ So we shall see!”
To learn more or obtain tickets to the breakfast celebration, call (323) 902-7079.