By Rev. Dr. Sunny Farley

In May 2022, worship at Casa de Luz in Longview consisted of one family – that of pastor Rick Aguilar.

“It was just my wife, daughter, son-in-law and grandson and we worshipped the Lord,” Aguilar said.

For the next six weeks, it was still just family. Then, something changed. A guest showed up.

Aguilar said he attributes the growth from then to now, which averages 70 in weekly worship, to several factors.

First, the congregation receives support from First UMC Longview. Casa de Luz is a congregation within a congregation at First UMC and its services are held at FUMC’s Beacon Center.

Casa de Luz receives funding from the larger congregation and has access to FUMC resources, like its van.

Second, the members at Casa de Luz have been active sharing the word of God in the community and inviting people to come to services.

“We started to evangelize the neighbors around us,” Aguilar said. “We put up fliers in Wal-Mart and Mexican stores. We visited ESL (English as a Second Language) classes and after two months, we received the first person and we began to grow. We built more and more families and they started to spread the word and invite friends.”

The people come and are committing themselves to the congregation and deepening their faiths through baptism.

“God is good,” Aguilar said. “If God wants to do something, nobody can stop Him.”

As the church has grown, so has the number of children.

Aguilar said there are so many children that want to participate in worship, the church began offering music classes made possible with a grant from the Texas Annual Conference’s Innovations Grant program.

The program and the Innovation Lab (conversations organized by the TAC to explore and flesh out ministry ideas) are part of Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey’s vision to reimagine, revive and renew our collective witness.

At Casa de Luz, there is now a large group of girls who play tambourine.

In May, the congregation will celebrate its second anniversary from 6-8 p.m. Saturday, May 18. The event will feature a guest speaker from Costa Rica, music, and refreshments.

At the first anniversary, 45 people came to celebrate. Aguilar said he expects an even bigger turnout this year.

Casa De Luz meets for Sunday School at 10 a.m. and worship at 11 a.m. at the Beacon Center at 1115 Mobberly Ave., Longview, Tx 75602. Services are in Spanish.

Pastor Rick Aguilar was born in Mexico City. He went to seminary in Monterey, Mexico and in California. He was ordained in 1996 and began serving in the UMC in 2020 with a focus on new church starts. He has served in the Texas Annual Conference in Kirbyville and Longview. He is married, has four children and 14 grandchildren.