Places of Worship: Believers Assembly

February 19, 2010 

COARSEGOLD -- In a former homebuilder's office at Highway 41 and Road 417, Believers Assembly provides more than Sunday services in the foothill community.

It also does outreach. The church's pastor, Brian Cunnings, teaches martial arts classes in the worship hall on weeknights. The classes are presented through Believers Chi-Tu Do, Mandarin for "Christian way."

Cunnings, a Madera County sheriff's deputy, says the classes emphasize discipline and respect with reverence to Jesus Christ. Cunnings has reached Grandmaster level in Tae Kwan Do, Ju-Jitsu and Escrima.

"The more you know about fighting, the less you fight," he says.

A congregant, John Durham, who has a purple belt, believes it is important the church provides the outreach.

"It's a good thing for kids in our community to do to stay out of trouble," he says. "There's not much to do."

Durham was among 40 people at a recent Sunday service, when congregants sang worship songs to recorded music and some shared prophetic words or visions that they had experienced. The pastor's son, Brent Cunnings, spoke in tongues.

Brian Cunnings gave a sermon on "Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand." And a first-time visitor, Betty Fernandez, says the service hit home.

"I love it," she says.

Here are other notes from the visit:

What's the first thing you notice from your chair?

It's the "Warriors Code" displayed on a wall -- "To live a life of honor embracing my duty to God, family and my fellow man, and upholding justice and mercy with courage and humility."

What might you see here that you can't other places?

The worship hall's floor is covered with a spongy sports mat in green, blue and purple colors.

What's everyone talking about?

It's the church's signs, intended for highway motorists. One reads: "Tired and weighted down? Find rest in Jesus alone!"

Who's the behind-the-scenes hero?

She's Durham's daughter, Alley, 4, who was happy dancing to the worship music.

The basics

* Location: 32019 Meadow Ridge Road, Coarsegold

* Contacts: (559) 641-7524; chitudo.com; believers@sti.net

* Services: 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Sundays

* Child care: Available

* Pastor: Brian Cunnings

* Congregation: 35 average attendance

* History: Founded in Oakhurst in 2008

* Religious association: Independent

* Key ministries: Believers Chi-Tu Do martial arts, prayer meeting, women's Bible study

The reporter can be reached at rorozco@fresno bee.com or (559) 441-6304.

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