The Little Engine That Could: El Buen Pastor and the Home of Neighborly Service

One of the weakest ministries and missions in the presbytery is the congregation and community service center on Mt. Vernon Avenue in San Bernardino.  For twenty years the presbytery and congregation have tried to get residential, steady pastoral leadership for the congregation, El Buen Pastor.  (They worship and serve in Spanish although a few in the fellowship are bilingual in Spanish and English.)  They have not had an installed pastor since Noe Falconi retired in 1998.  Our latest effort was an Administrative Commission to come alongside them. But now some want to have a conversation about closing down the Administrative Commission and having the worshippers form a Steering Committee to provide for worship and building/property maintenance.  Finding pastoral leadership fluent in the Spanish language and the Hispanic cultures of San Bernardino is a continued dream.

Next door to “the cutest Sanctuary in the presbytery” is the Home of Neighborly Service. It consists of three buildings and a parking space for about 15 cars.  It struggles with copper theft, accidents that damage their perimeter fence, and water usage.  (Currently, we’re thinking the homeless shower there.)  The main tenant of the Home is Project Fighting Chance, a tutoring and boxing program that uses the two back buildings of the Home.  Part of the presbytery’s role there is to be a conduit of communication between Fellowship and Home.

The fellowship’s leadership is the Ramos family.  The Home’s leadership is one half-time office manager (Charlene Smith, who is currently out for surgery) and an all-Black and Hispanic Board, our only such in the presbytery.  (The community is 85% people of color.)   Dave Baird of the Property, Finance, Investment, and Funds Development Committee gives time taking estimates for requested and necessary work. (Thanks so much, Dave!).  Our board president, the wonderful Vicki Lee, just suddenly lost her husband so other members of the board are pitching in.

Pray for us. We have a great piece of property and a gift from the Synod from the sale of our community center in Riverside that props up the Home’s finances. We give as a presbytery $1,000 month to the Home beyond covering capital expenses.  It’s difficult working across language barriers in a poor part of our presbytery.  But it’s part of our mission to be the hands and feet of Jesus in all the world.

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