Chinatown church grows, celebrates 20th year of middle school program
By Ling-Mei Wong
The Boston Chinatown Evangelical Church’s expansion plans are moving along and it celebrated the 20-year milestone of its middle school summer camp Project Destiny.
The Boston Redevelopment Agency approved the rezoning of 120 Shawmut Avenue on July 16, currently the site of South Cove Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center Home, for church usage. Previously, the site was zoned for the nursing home, which is moving to a new facility at Quincy Point in spring 2014.
A purchase and sale agreement for the 120 Shawmut Avenue site has been signed for South Cove Manor to sell the location to BCEC. The sale is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014.
Project Destiny began after church pastors saw the need for middle school programming that wasn’t elementary activities nor high school jobs. Now in its 20th year, the five-week summer program for local fifth to eighth graders is staffed by full-time volunteers.
Three events on August 9, 10 and 11 united campers and counselors at BCEC’s Chinatown campus at 249 Harrison Avenue and its Newton campus at 218 Walnut Street.
“Counselors are showing the campers God’s love and we can’t take any credit for the program’s success,” said Emily Liu, a PD volunteer who helped organize the events. “We have been celebrating God’s faithfulness. As much work as we put into the program, there wouldn’t be any fruit without God.”
“I was one of the campers during the first two summers of PD in 1994,” said Shirley Chui, a BCEC member. “I loved PD so much that I went back to serve as counselor nine years later. It was one of the most joyous times in my life, serving with a family of 12 awesome counselors and six hyperactive junior counselors.”
PD extends to Project Destiny Autumn to Spring, BCEC’s after-school program that runs from September to June. Both the summer and year-round program are run by Steve Liu, a BCEC staff member and former Josiah Quincy Upper School teacher. PDAS offers homework help on a drop-in basis to middle school and high school students, serving about 25 to 30 children each day.
“We build relationships with students who go to the summer camp,” Liu said. “Many of the staff catch the vision and are involved in planning.”
BCEC started in 1961 with 18 people and grew to be the largest Asian church in New England with 1,200 attendees. It has six worship services in English, Cantonese and Mandarin.