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  • Writer's pictureFCC Communications

On Holy Ground: New Congregations

How can we start new congregations? Through the Strengthen the Church Offering, people around our country can help support new congregations. These emerging churches receive "CASA Grants" or Congregational Assessment, Support, and Advancement Grants.

Pastor Ali Lopez Valcarcel received a CASA Grant and coaching for her effort to start the United Church of Christ Rio Grande Valley, also known as Proyecto RGV. Funds helped provide tools for the ministry, such as a place to gather, support for a pastor, and sound equipment. It also supports outreach to migrants on both sides of the Rio Grande.

A community leader reflected on this vital work. "The UCC RGV has been able to establish a visual presence of Christ and become a voice for compassion and justice in the Rio Grande Valley."

"The CASA Grant gave us our start," explains Pastor Ali Lopez Valcarcel. The grant represents support coming into the Rio Grande Valley from congregations and people across the United Church of Christ. "It means so much that the wider United Church of Christ believes in us. It encourages me as a pastor and person committed to this work. People believe in us! And it creates a level of accountability. People count on us!"

In September 2023, UCC Rio Grande Valley held its inaugural service. The service brought together Latino cultural and spiritual traditions in a unique way that allowed people to use all their senses to engage in worship. This past October, UCC Rio Grande Valley lead an ecumenical vigil for Kimberly Avila. Kimberly, a transgender sibling, went missing five years ago from Brownsville, TX. The Avila family thanked UCC Rio Grande Valley for leading the effort to bring light to Kimberly's disappearance, as the local authorities have done little to help bring Kimberly home.

An Open and Affirming, Immigrant-Welcoming Congregation is forming in Texas because generous people support the Strengthen the Church Offering. Think what more we can do together!

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