“The church is so happy with this status; it’s a dream come true,” said Gustavo Mendez, senior pastor of the newly organized El Camino a Cristo Spanish church.
More than 20 years ago, a group known as El Evangelio Eterno was formed by members who sacrificed their time, money, and talents to push God’s mission forward. In 2010, this group was organized as El Camino a Cristo Spanish company, and 13 years later, the congregation celebrated its new church status.
For Pastor Mendez, who has been senior pastor for about two years, this milestone is especially meaningful. Ten years ago, El Camino a Cristo Spanish company was his first assignment as a youth pastor in the United States. “For me, it’s like coming back home,” he said. “When I first arrived at the church, they were so welcoming. They gave me the opportunity to grow, and many years later when I received the call to come back home, I knew I was ready to come back.”
The Sabbath afternoon celebration began with a ribbon-cutting ceremony. Southern California Conference (SCC) officers Velino A. Salazar, John H. Cress, and Kathleen Diaz and Hispanic Region Director Jaime Heras were present. Cress, SCC executive secretary, prayed over the congregation before Diaz, SCC treasurer/CFO, cut the ribbon. Then, everyone walked into the sanctuary together as a praise team sang “Onward Christian Soldiers.”
This moment was inspired by the Israelites’ crossing the parted Red Sea, being in the midst of God’s miracles. “For our church, it’s been a history of continuous miracles,” Mendez said.
During the service, Salazar shared a message challenging the congregation to continue God’s mission in creating disciples. Cress and Salazar presented Mendez and church leaders with the certificate of organization, and Diaz provided a gift of $2,500 for evangelism.
While members Hector and Armando shared church history, they talked of the church’s food ministry outreach, which started during the pandemic in 2020. Just before the organization ceremony began, members were finishing up this outreach. Every Saturday, 30 volunteers serve about 100 people through the food bank, and that Sabbath was no exception. “The food bank helps us to connect with the community to provide spiritual and even financial support,” Mendez shared.
The celebratory day continued into the evening with the start of a week-long evangelistic series led by Bradford C. Newton, Pacific Union Conference (PUC) president, and Alberto Ingleton, PUC vice president for Hispanic Ministries, and livestreamed by TV Tu Mundo. By the end of the series, more than 20 people were baptized.
Watch the highlight video below: