By Don and Susan Dewey, Co-Regional Ministers
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
Last month’s Mile Marker talked about the Urgent Church, those that are in serious decline and need to make significant changes or will soon die. This month, living into our Easter season, the focus is on places of new life and resurrection. We will look at three congregations where new life is happening and flourishing.
The first is at Community Worship Center in Gardena. This congregation, born out of the remnant of the former Fuente de Vida Disciple congregation, began just two short years ago. As both the First Christian Church of Gardena and Fuente de Vida congregations were coming to end CWC was emerging.
Under the pastoral leadership of Ruben del Pilar and his wife Cindy, this new congregation has grown and flourished from a handful of potential members to now well over 150 attendees on any given Sunday! Through support from the Region and from various members with time and labor, they have almost completely remodeled the once drab and outdated Gardena facility into an alive, vibrant and welcoming church facility.
Our Regional Board recently held their March meeting at the Gardena facility and were given an informative tour of all the things that have been transpiring on the campus and the various ministries being conducted there. We celebrated the exciting new life happening in Gardena with CWC’s ministry!
The second place of new life is at Casa de Refugio in Covina, under the co-pastoral leadership of Francisco Ramos and Soriliz Rodriquez. Following the closing of Covina Christian Church over three years ago, a new church start was planted through our Region’s New Church Development ministry.
In just over three years this congregation, that began with the Ramos family, now has grown to average 60-70 in worship. They have been actively engaging their community with food pantries, special dinners, Vacation Bible School programs and much more. They have also hosted several Regional events and been active in our Region’s Convención.
Through support of the Region many improvements on the Covina facility have taken place as the congregation continues to grow and serve. We are excited about the wonderful new life in Covina!
The third place of new life is still emerging. Last month we witnessed the closing of First Christian Church of Bellflower. After 95 years of ministry in the Bellflower community the congregation made the decision to close its visible ministry. Also housed there at FCC Bellflower was our Disciple ministry Iglesia Discipulos de Cristo under the pastoral leadership of Angeles Coronado.
With the decision to close, Pastor Coronado’s congregation was told they would need to relocate since the Bellflower congregation was giving their facility to a non-Disciple mega church for expanding its ministry. Pastor Coronado began to look, though unsuccessfully, for a new home for the church’s ministry. Fortunately, the Region was in the midst of taking over management of our Baldwin Park facility that had not had a Disciple congregation meeting there for over 9 years.
The Region has been in the process of restoring and remodeling this facility and has now made it available to Iglesia Discipulos de Cristo for a re-birth of its ministry.
Pastor Coronado’s congregation, now renamed Casa de Fe (House of Faith), has already begun engaging the community of Baldwin Park, offering worship in the local park, meeting with community officials, and hosting gathering events as the facility is undergoing remodeling.
There is much excitement and enthusiasm among the members of Casa de Fe of Baldwin Park for this new beginning in their ministry.
There are also several other new congregations emerging around the Region as continued signs of new life!
A new congregation in Riverside, Iglesia Nueva Vida (Church of New Life) was launched on Easter Sunday! Q ministry, designed around the 12-step model, has begun a new ministry in the Torrance area. Another is WOW church (Walking on Water), this ministry is focused on an inclusionary ministry for persons and families with Autism.
Each of these ministries are reminders that the Holy Spirit is still moving in and through lives to create places of healing, hope, love, grace, and community here in the PSWR!
Certainly there are many other signs of new life emerging around our Region and perhaps your congregation is a place where exciting new things are happening as well. We celebrate these and all the places where God’s Spirit of new life and resurrection are happening.
We ask that you pray for these pastors and their congregations as these places of new life continue to flourish and grow. We also ask that you will hold in your prayers all our congregations as each are seeking to be witnesses of the Good News of the Risen Christ!
Together on the journey,
Don and Susan
Co-Regional Ministers, PSWR