was founded in 1988 by its senior pastor, the Rev. Chris Fraley. Then based out of Freehold Borough, the congregation was made up of just about a dozen men and women.
The church's mission was founded on the following: "We believe God has called us to exalt God through worship, express God's love through ministry, edify believers through fellowship, evangelize the lost through outreach, and equip believers through discipleship."
In October 2003, the Abundant Life Church of Gof found a permanent home at 632 Colts Neck Road in Freehold Township, where it welcomes hundreds of churchgoers from all over the state. The facility boasts 10,780 square feet of space.
But no matter how big or small, the most important aspect for the church’s staff is a positive environment for all, according to Fraley.
"We strive to make people feel very welcome in the church," Fraley said. "I'm very proud to say we have a diverse group of people that regularly attend our church. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or what your background is. We treat everyone as equals and I think it's great we can unite so many people with faith.”
Fraley’s colleagues, Youth Pastor Jason Wheble and Minister of Care Sharon Buntin, relay his message to those who can have a hard time balancing life and faith--youth.
"When you’re a young kid, in elementary, intermediate, high school, it’s hard to channel your emotions and know what’s always going on around you," Buntin said. "We get students from all over the state who come here. We give them a safe haven to express themselves and become closer with God while they deal with the troubles young people go through growing up."
Wheble, who runs the Outpost Youth Ministry, noted that a teenager may need a different path to God than an adult.
"Everyone is different," Wheble said. “When dealing with anyone, especially young people, the best way to help them get closer to God is to relate faith to their everyday life. What works for an adult may not work for a teenager. We’re here to bridge that gap, that disconnect, and I’m proud to say I think we’ve done well so far."
With a diverse churchgoing community, the leadership of the Abundant Life Church of God saw an opportunity to help people learn more about one another and get a better understanding of other cultures.
"Every year we do a special event called International Day," said Director of Christian Education Joann Garzarella. "We hang up all the respective countries’ flags from the church ceiling. We have people dress as they would in their home country and bring food. It’s a real fun time where you can learn about each other and gain a new respect for other cultures."
With a family center currently planned for construction, Fraley continues to focus on the church's mission.
"We want anyone that comes here to feel right at home and closer to God," Fraley said.
For more information on the Abundant Life Church of God, visit the congregation's Web site or contact the staff via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
To get involved with the church's youth activities, click here or call 732-409-2923.