Nutley Abundant Life Worship Center celebrated its centennial anniversary in style.
On Sunday, October 21, 2018, the North Jersey congregation hosted its 100th Year Celebration and Commencement Gala. In the morning, a special worship service was held with guest speaker Rev. David Longobardo, government dignitaries, and other invitees. A reception followed in ALWC’s Garden Court.
The church was started in 1918 by a group of Pentecostal believers who held open-air meetings in Nutley and later in a home. These old-time saints were outreach-oriented, often inviting friends and family to the Italian-language services. They put their hands to the plow to construct the first church building in 1920.
“They were a solid group who truly believed in the salvation message of the Gospel and the healing power of God,” said Bishop Peter Bruno, the senior pastor at Nutley Abundant Life Worship Center. “They were people who came from religious backgrounds, but became firmly rooted in the Gospel. They were very faithful in the support of the work of the Lord.”
While much has changed, much has stayed the same. Nutley ALWC—which moved from its long-time Bloomfield Avenue location to its present 120,000-square foot facility on Washington Avenue in 1996—is still known for dynamic preaching, fervent prayer, and bold evangelism.
Bishop Bruno said his heart is thrilled that “Nutley ALWC has reached the 100-year mark.”
“The vibrancy and presence of the Lord never diminished,” he said. “That does not mean we haven’t had our ups and downs.”
“We never lost that evangelistic spirit. We have seven evangelism teams that go out every Tuesday night. They go to shopping plazas, parks, malls—presenting the Gospel and praying with people to receive the Lord Jesus. We’re continuing to build the church with evangelism and then feed the church regularly by preaching the Gospel.”
Bishop Bruno has always had a heart for the lost. After graduating from Elim Bible College in 1958, he traveled as an evangelist for five years with a Gospel tent that seated 1,800 people. He then served as a pastor for seven years in Jamestown, New York before coming to Nutley Assembly of God (as the church was known then) in 1970. He is only the fourth pastor in 100 years, and has been shepherding the church for nearly half a century. The first three pastors were Rev. Ralph Freda (1918-1927), Rev. Louis Tarantino (1927-1954), and Rev. Dominick Tuminaro (1954-1969).
Bishop Peter and Rose Marie Bruno have been married and in ministry together for 60 years and have four adult children, 13 grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
Under Bishop Bruno and Senior Associate Minister Rose Marie Bruno, Nutley ALWC has impacted the community and beyond with a wide range of ministries, including an outreach to homeless and poor people, and support of mission organizations.
“Nutley ALWC has always had a world vision,” he said.
That vision includes helping to plant 28 churches. Abundant Life Ministries International has birthed more than 50 “pastor’s sons and daughters” into full-time service, internationally, in countries such as Italy and Brazil, and locally with Lincoln Park Abundant Life Worship Center and Pastor Tom Berninger; Abundant Life Worship Center in Whippany and Rev. Joe Arminio; and Abundant Life Church in Springfield and Rev. Joe Cancelliere.
“The Lord gave us the vision of producing pastor sons and daughters, as well as going forth and opening up new churches,” Bishop Bruno said. “Many of these pastors are men and women who sat in my ministry training classes.”
Bishop Bruno’s two biological sons are also local pastors. Peter Bruno is the senior pastor of MetroChurch in Waldwick, while Paul Bruno is the senior pastor of Evangel Christian Church in Little Ferry.
In 1986, Bishop Bruno and Nutley Assembly of God launched Nutley Assembly Christian School. Now known as Abundant Life Academy, the school, located on the second floor of the building on Washington Avenue, enrolled an all-time high of 445 students in K-3 through high school this fall.
Whether they are ministering to their own congregation, going on the road to encourage other pastors, or attending special events at Abundant Life Academy, Bishop Peter and Minister Rose Marie Bruno enjoy being role models and living out faithfulness, consistency, and longevity, both in marriage and ministry.
It all emanates from a solid, foundational relationship with Jesus Christ, Bishop Bruno said.
“I truly fell in love with Jesus. I believe that what He said was the truth. I believe that the Gospel works,” he said. “When you have a close relationship with the Lord and you hear the voice of the Lord that speaks to you daily—both from His Word and within your heart, your spirit—you can’t help but continue to follow the challenge and follow the person whom you love.”
Bishop Bruno also noted two Bible passages that have kept him encouraged over the years. He quoted Ephesians 3:20, “Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us…”
He also noted the challenge and admonition that Paul gives in 2nd Timothy 4:2-5, “…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching…do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Throughout 2018, Nutley ALWC hosted various events to celebrate a century of ministry. On October 21, Pastor Longobardo, the Chief Advisory Board member of Abundant Life Ministries International, preached a message and the church was presented with proclamations from government officials from Nutley and Trenton.
“We believe we have something to celebrate,” said Bishop Bruno. “We are celebrating 100 years of preaching and evangelizing our entire area with the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
-Written by Tom Campisi, Publisher