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Hispanic church to inaugurate new location

Springfield congregation could be a first for the city.

Emmanuel Hispanic Church is opening its doors to the public this weekend for a three-day event to inaugurate the church’s new location.

The church — believed to be the only Hispanic-only congregation with its own building in the Springfield area — has been meeting at 454 E. Main Street for the past month after previously renting a church building south of the city.

Inauguration services are scheduled for 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with a regularly-scheduled service at 1 p.m. Sunday and dinner to follow. Emmanuel Hispanic Church meets three times a week — 1 p.m. Sunday for service; 7 p.m. Tuesday for Bible school; and 7 p.m. Thursday for prayer service.

The church is non-denominational, according to Pastor Jose Salas.

“We’re a community-conscious church,” Salas, 51, said. “We want to help anybody, not just the Spanish community. We’re a small but growing church. God put us here to help the community, and that’s what we’re planning on doing.”

The church started about a year and a half ago, renting the RiverSong Church facility at 3660 Springfield-Jamestown Road. It grew from 15 members to about 40, and more space and its own building were necessary for the church to reach its potential, Salas said.

“(RiverSong) was very helpful, but we were restricted if we wanted to expand our services,” said Salas, a native of Puerto Rico. “We saw this as an opportunity. We think this is for us.”

Emmanuel Hispanic Church paid $115,000 for the building, which is where the Peoples Baptist Church formerly met. The sale was finalized Nov. 15. The building can seat about 200 people, and features a kitchen, offices, classrooms, sanctuary, balcony area and baptistery.

Salas said there are other small Hispanic-only churches that rent out church buildings, but he believes Emmanuel is the first one in the city to have its own location.

St. Theresa Catholic Church, 1827 N. Limestone Street, offers Spanish Mass at 5 p.m. every first and third Sunday of the month. Attendance typically ranges from 60 to 175 for those services, Father Edwin F. Gearhart said. St. Theresa instituted Spanish Mass in 2007, and Mary Alice Ordonez is the church’s director of Hispanic ministry.

Gearhart said Emmanuel Hispanic Church will have a positive impact on the Spanish-speaking community.

“We’re just not sure at this point what the impact will be on us,” Gearhart said. “We’re seeking what we can do for the people who come to us. We serve them as well as we can with our resources, and others are seeking to do the same.”

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the American Community Survey estimates that from 2010-12, there was a yearly average of 2,350 Hispanic or Latino residents in Springfield. There was an average of 60,339 total people in Springfield during that same time period.

In Clark County, there was an average of 3,872 Hispanic or Latino citizens and 137,735 total residents.

For more information about the church, contact Salas at 440-787-0159.

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