El Mesias UMC is Becoming "The Little Church that Could"

Date Posted: 10/22/2015

Vital congregations take bold steps and try new things, just as El Mesias is modeling via a special partnership with the Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans (AAMA).
Last year, four people attended National Night Out activities at El Mesias UMC near downtown Houston. This year, almost 70 were served dinner during this community outreach hosted by the Texas Annual Conference’s newest addition from the Rio Grande Conference.
Why the big increase?
“Bishop Huie referenced this congregation in her Episcopal Address,” notes Rev. Diane McGehee, Director of the Center for Missional Excellence, “lifting El Mesias up for forming an entrepreneurial partnership that would strengthen the church’s future. Having partnered with AAMA, El Mesias has repurposed their building to be used as a charter school, and to offer adult English classes, and is now reaching the community in very powerful ways – as demonstrated by the attendance at October’s National Night Out.” The revenue being earned from the school is an added bonus to the church as it leverages a great asset to educate children. Adds Diane, “Fruit is born through bold thinking and via new partnerships to reach larger communities.”
The partnership is also a huge benefit to AAMA.  President and CEO Beatrice Garza states, “As we considered innovative ways to serve a greater number of youth and families it made sense to maximize the usage of existing community buildings in the north side.  We recognized the promise in the opportunity to bring AAMA’s holistic model of education to a community that desired and needed services.  It is an exciting partnership with El Mesias and we look forward to the possibilities before us.”
Rev. David Sanchez is really excited about this partnership with AAMA. “This has provided us excellent opportunities to be in touch with many families in the community,” he shares. “No doubt this partnership is making a major impact in the Hispanic community of North Houston and we are confident that both institutions will lead to the growth and discovery of many future leaders.” According to David, El Mesias UMC has been providing answers, direction and support to this community for the last 101 years, yet the new partnership is greatly accelerating relationships based on education and faith. Adds David, “The support of the conference has been key to helping us reach the community families through a reliable education and inclusive ministry.”
Neighborhood Children Drawn to Pumpkin Patch
Pastor David is thrilled every day to see moms like Irma walk her daughter to sixth grade at El Mesias. Adds David, “Irma and her kids have become involved in El Mesias activities such as the pumpkin patch, movie night, National Night Out, Sunday school and VBS. We have been in touch with this family and many others through the AAMA charter school in our facilities. God is good and He is working and blessing this community through this new avenue.”
We are doing free face painting on Saturdays and giving out free photos for the visitors on Saturdays,” says Margi Duncan, who serves on Church Council for the partnership. “We are having great success. El Mesias is becoming the neighborhood “go to” place—particularly for young families. I am really excited about the future.
This external focus is also drawing in former members. According to Margi, one former member’s granddaughter came to the pumpkin patch to get her picture done, and now her grandmother is interested in coming back to the church. 
“I know God is moving in our Little Church,” she says, “and we have become The Little Church that Could! I am so excited that the neighborhood is finally recognizing us as a resource."
Conference leaders are watching El Mesias expectantly. “The Bishop and the Texas Annual Conference applaud your work and are looking to your leadership as a shining example of missional outreach to the community,” shares Diane. “As the Director for Missional Excellence for the Texas Annual Conference, I assure you that we stand with you in helping to make this partnership continue on to even greater success. Thank you for your vision and commitment to the work of Christ in your community and the world.”