Celebrating Casa Linda's Legacy
It has been over a year since my last blog, and A LOT has happened!
I started my appointment as lead pastor at Casa Linda Church in October 2020 with lots of enthusiasm, energy, and new ideas. Unfortunately, my appointment ended on Sunday, January 30th, 2022, with grief, burnout, and uncertainty.
*Pictures of my first and last day as Lead Pastor of Casa Linda Church
Casa Linda has been my home church since I came to Dallas from Puerto Rico in 2016. I remember when I arrived at this church almost six years ago. It was the Christmas season; I had just finished my bachelor’s degree and came to Dallas to visit my husband, Luis, at that time, my fiancé. He was already attending Casa Linda. I was so happy and excited that he found a church where he felt embraced and loved. As soon as I arrived at Casa Linda, I felt the same way, embraced and loved by every one of you. Those who had been part of Casa Linda or have visited have a different story. But something that we may all have in common is how we all felt embraced, loved, and welcomed. Let me tell you, I have visited many churches throughout my life, but the way Casa Linda Church made me feel the first time I came here impacted me and made a massive demonstration of what love is. A love that represented who was reigning in each of their hearts for the last 70 years of Casa Linda’s ministry, God’s love. That is why I ended up joining the church!
Casa Linda has been the church where I grew in my faith exponentially, leading me to seek my call to become a pastor in The United Methodist Church. My church family supported me through my seminary journey, becoming a mother, and from being a laity person to becoming their lead pastor.
*Some pictures that reflect my faith journey at Casa Linda Church
As my appointment came to a reality, I had so many dreams for the church that I have loved since I crossed those sanctuary doors. From the moment I saw the beautiful cross hanging on the wall with a beautiful wood mosaic, showing the reflection of the daylight that came through the stained glasses. But most important of all, how I experienced God’s love and grace through every member that shared with me a smile, a hug, a kiss, the words, “bless you,” advice, wisdom, stories, and many other memories that I will cherish forever.
Let me tell you. I never imagined, since the moment I heard that the Bishop and Cabinet were going to appoint me as lead pastor of Casa Linda, that I was going to be the one leading this historical and amazing 70-year congregation to its closing.
Before the church voted to cease operations and return the church’s facility to the North Texas Conference, many things behind the doors happened. We had a new staff member, new logo, new website, new partnerships, and new outreach ministries. We worked on relaunching the church, even though our finances were greatly affected over the last two years of living in such a difficult time through a pandemic, and more than what we were already had been experiencing for the previous five years.
Casa Linda, through the pandemic, still did ministry in great ways reaching out to our community through the following new ministries:
Mission Saturday, where we intentionally served the community once a month. We offered our community opportunities to donate blood with Red Cross, meet our neighbors at the “Love your neighbor walk,” offer vaccines for COVID-19, showed an orientation from Justice From Our Neighbors, and had a prayer tent. At the same time, we cleaned out the church grounds.
Community Offering, where we collected a particular offering to help our neighbors once a month. We helped a neighbor with new glasses, another in the rent, another while sick with covid-19, and another recovering from surgery.
Esperanza Strings is an after-school music ministry supported by a local church located at an elementary school in their community. It provides a life-changing opportunity and healing by experiencing music. Casa Linda has been supporting 15 children from Casa View Elementary School. This ministry couldn’t be possible without the help of First UMC Dallas with One+ Dallas and StringRise, a non-profit organization. These fantastic 15 children learned about the violin with their teachers three times per week. It’s a ministry that is still happening even that our church has closed.
All of our ministries at Casa Linda during the last two years were possible thanks to the support of our church members and spiritual and monetary support from sister churches such as FUMC Dallas, Suncreek UMC, New World UMC, St. Luke Community UMC, and Custer Road UMC.
*Some picture of the outreach ministries at Casa Linda Church
I have learned and experienced so much during my year and a half leading this congregation. All I can say is that I’m proud of all the work we poured out into each ministry and the support we received from all the members until the very end. We all did what God called us to do!
We truly celebrate all of Casa Linda’s legacy on January 30th, 2022. We prepare a beautiful worship service celebrating that God’s love, mercies, and faithfulness will never end. Throughout my last sermon, I acknowledged how sad, even discouraged, many of us were feeling. It was not easy to close a church for the first time and be my first appointment. But what hurts more is that we were closing my home church. I was wondering, “where do I worship next Sunday?” But God’s words through Lamentations 3:33-24 reminded me that wherever I go, God will continue to guide each of Casa Linda’s members and me. Where the Holy Spirit leads us to a life that continues to seek to grow as a disciple. That God will continue to allow, us to share with others the embracing love that Casa Linda is known for through each of us wherever we go.
*Some pictures of Casa Linda's last worship service, January 30th, 2022
That day, we closed a chapter, but a new one began. I still don’t know where I will be as I continue to answer my call to ministry. It has been super, mega, weird not to serve God in a leadership role or any capacity at the church on Sundays. But I’m enjoying my time off from working in a church, recharging my ministry batteries to be ready for my next appointment. I can’t wait to know where God will send me next!