La Mesa Presbyterian Church, about 210 members, is in one of the highest density neighborhoods in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which is predominately Hispanic, including a large number of undocumented families, primarily Spanish-speaking. About 30 years ago, the congregation debated whether to move from the neighborhood, as most of the mainline Protestant churches had closed or re-located. They discerned that God wanted them to stay, so the congregation took the risk to renovate and expand the facility to make it community friendly and to serve Christ’s reign in this God-given place.
La Mesa has a partnership with the next door elementary school and sponsors the La Mesa Arts Academy that provides free after-school art classes at the church, twice a week, to over 100 children in the visual and performing arts. We also work with the local community organizing effort, Albuquerque Interfaith, to shape legislative policy at the state for adequate school funding, college scholarships, and quality bi-lingual education.
Behavioral health is a critical issue facing our community. The church sponsors the Hopkins Center for Children and Families that provides quality affordable bi-lingual therapy to families who are uninsured and undocumented. This past fall the center, which has been open since 2004, faced closure when the sponsoring non-profit agency was shutting down. The church was a catalyst in finding a successor nonprofit to continue the program and release the necessary funding for the transition. The center was re-dedicated this past December.
Food insecurity is also a major concern in the community. The church, working with the local food bank, sponsors a five day a week food pantry. Twice a month we augment the basic food staples with large shipments of produce and protein entrees. Last year the pantry provided food for more than 12,000 persons.
These are some of the ways that the La Mesa congregation is partnering with and serving our community.
Trey Hammond, Pastor