Page 11 - ELCA
P. 11

Jesús Escamilla knows the power of relationships . Over 15 years, he’s seen God provide for his congregation through faithful partners across the church and within his community .
“What God wants, if you believe and trust in how he wants to do it, it will get done,” said the pastor of San Gabriel Lutheran Church in Alvarado, Texas .
Escamilla came to San Gabriel in 2006, when future congregants were holding Bible studies weekly in worshipers’ homes . To worship,
they drove more than 30 miles north to San Miguel Lutheran Church in Fort Worth . He joined the Bible studies, then became the faith community’s official worship leader a year later, ministering in homes for both Bible study and worship . In time, the growing faith community needed a building in Alvarado .
“What God wants, if you believe and trust in how he wants to do it,
it will get done.”
A deal with a local supporter allowed the congregation to begin renting a plot of land, where it worshiped outdoors and eventually built makeshift indoor worship space . “Everyone was dusty, but they didn’t care because they had a place to worship — their own place,” Escamilla said .
Over time, partnerships with local congregations allowed San Gabriel to build a permanent church . Gifts from Calvary Lutheran
Church in Richland Hills allowed San Gabriel to put in flooring, and pews were donated by St . John Lutheran Church, a closing congregation in nearby Grand Prairie . Later, St . John’s council gifted funds that helped San Gabriel take ownership of its land .
Since then, the church has grown, adding a fellowship hall that serves as a community hub for the area’s largely Mexican immigrant population . But like so many congregations, San Gabriel struggled to maintain a sense
of community during the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States .
The church closed and pivoted to virtual worship on Zoom and Facebook, with Escamilla, lay leaders and a small contingent of choir members recording services in person at the church .
But with virtual worship, collecting offerings became a challenge . Some congregants sent money through the digital-payment network Zelle or even left their offerings in the church mailbox, but many couldn’t contribute monetarily . So the church began hosting weekly food sales to raise needed funds and provide members with a way to give back .
Escamilla believes that San Gabriel has been built up by the generosity of others — church members, nearby ELCA congregations and, through Mission Support funds, the ELCA Northern Texas-Northern Louisiana Synod.
“It’s been a conjunction of [congregations] working together to help a community
that was struggling,” he said . “We have this wonderful community that is working together to work with what the Lord wants us to do .”
Christian community 11
by Relationships

   9   10   11   12   13