Bishop dedicates first Hispanic church in Holston

By Annette Bender

GALAX, Va.– "We are here. We're tired. Oh boy, but it's been an awesome day."

Moments after a band of supporters paraded three miles from one church to another, the Rev. Arturo Reyna commenced the consecration service for Door of Heaven with those words.

Iglesia Puerta Del Cielo Metodista Unida, also known as Door of Heaven United Methodist Church, is Holston Conference's fi rst chartered Hispanic congregation. The church dedicated its fi rst building on May 24 with Bishop Ray Chamberlain and other Holston leaders attending.

Door of Heaven UMC was chartered in December 2001.

Members and supporters marched from the parent church, West Galax UMC, down a four-lane highway to the new building where a special service and dinner were held.

"Dear friends, now that we have completed building, and paid all indebtedness on it, let us dedicate this building and rejoice in its holy use," Chamberlain said during an uplifting service.

Chamberlain also praised Reyna, Door of Heaven pastor, a native of Mexico who suffered from alcoholism and considered suicide before being called to ministry in 1995.

"I thank God for this pastor," Chamberlain said. The 7,300-square-foot building for Door of Heaven was built by Holston's Volunteer Labor group for the Northern Region, with several churches and businesses supplying labor and materials. Groundbreaking occurred in March 2002.

Holston ministers participating in the parade and dedication service included Chuck Starks, Wytheville District superintendent; Gene Lovell, Tazewell District superintendent; Joe Carrico, West Galax UMC pastor; Ty Harrison, Kodak UMC pastor and former West Galax pastor; John Ripley, Holston director of new church development; and Tom Ballard, First Galax UMC pastor.

The building was presented by Salvador Gutierrez. Music was provided by Saul Huerta and Audra Maria Mendieta.

Door of Heaven currently has 41 members and an average worship attendance of 90.


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