New building opens new ministry opportunities
By Myra Holmes
Grace Point @ McAllen, a USMB church plant in McAllen, Texas, will celebrate a new facility and invite their neighbors to a grand opening on Easter Sunday.
Grace Point @ McAllen began meeting in November 2012 as a multi-site campus of Grace Point @ Grulla in La Grulla, Texas, formerly known as Grulla MB Church. The church plant met in a Holiday Inn Express on Sunday afternoons.
While the new congregation was grateful for the space, they knew that a more permanent facility would allow for more growth. “Of course, our desire is to grow,” says Pastor Aaron Hernandez, pictured with his wife, Alejandra, and Albert and Jessica Reyna.
Celebrating a new facility
Their new facility was provided through the generosity of a couple who have been long-time attenders and supporters in the Latin American Mennonite Brethren (LAMB) district. The couple, who wish to remain anonymous, are regulars at Iglesia de Gracia, Garciasville, Texas, but live in McAllen and also attend Grace Point @ McAllen on Sunday afternoons.
For years, this couple noticed a small building on their street, sometimes abandoned, and thought it would make a nice facility for a LAMB church. When the building came up for sale, “We got excited,” they say. “There has to be someone who can use it to spread the gospel.”
They purchased the building and invested heavily in renovating it: They fixed the roof, changed the entry configuration, remodeled the interior, installed new flooring and purchased chairs for the sanctuary area.
Then they offered the space, rent-free, to the McAllen church plant.
“We prayed about it a little bit,” Hernandez says, “then we jumped on it pretty quickly.”
Hernandez says the savings on rent will allow the congregation to invest more heavily in their community and to focus on outreach rather than overhead. He says the new location—the hotel is on the south side of McAllen; the new facility is on the north side—offers new opportunities to reach out.
The donors say, “We are hoping (the church) will be a light in this community.”
They say they have been blessed by God and view this gift as simply giving back to him. “We are just happy that a church is meeting there and that the Word of the Lord is being preached.”
The L-shaped building includes a worship center that seats about 100, a small children’s area, a lobby and restrooms. Already, Hernandez says, the children’s area is nearly at capacity, with 15-22 elementary-age kids on average. About 45-60 adults attend on a typical Sunday, with a good mix of young families and more established adults.
Gearing up for Easter outreach
Grace Point @ McAllen is currently gearing up for an Easter Sunday grand opening in that new facility.
They are targeting about 500 homes in newer neighborhoods surrounding the building with door hangers inviting them to Easter activities. They are also passing out water bottles with invitations.
Hernandez says people are more likely to come to church for the first time on Easter. He hopes to fill the church to capacity on Easter—that would be about 100 adults and 45 children.
Easter activities will include a special children’s program—which Hernandez hopes will attract young families—regular Easter services and outdoor activities like inflatables for kids after the service.
Dreaming of growth
Hernandez expects that Grace Point’s grand opening will give the congregation a growth spurt. If their outreach efforts are successful, he says, the congregation would have to go to two services in the next couple of months and would open another campus within two years. “We’re already praying about this,” he says.
Multiple locations provide more ways for people to connect with the church and, ultimately, come to know Jesus. Each campus would have a campus pastor and Hernandez would preach via video. One campus could even return to the hotel on the south side of McAllen, he speculates.
Ultimately, Hernandez says, Grace Point @ McAllen is not about numbers: “We’re about life change.” The congregation has planned a baptism service after Easter, with five people already expressing a desire to be baptized; Hernandez hopes that number will grow.
Currently Grace Point is looking for a campus pastor for the McAllen campus. Hernandez invites the larger USMB family to pray with them for the right pastor as well as strong leadership to move forward. “That is vital for us to continue to grow,” he says.
Giving thanks for partnership
Hernandez notes that none of this would be possible without partnership from Grace Point @ Grulla and from the larger USMB family.
“I’m very proud of our church at Grulla for wanting to take this step in the beginning,” he says. He notes that the congregation made a significant investment and took a risk by planting the McAllen campus, but notes, “Whatever the cost, whatever the investment, you cannot put a price on life change.”
From the beginning, the church plant has been supported by USMB through Mission USA, the USMB church planting and renewal ministry. “I really see our church as something that has been a partnership and collaboration since the beginning with Mission USA and our U.S. Conference,” Hernandez says. “I am very grateful for that encouragement.”
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