If you are interested in finding a new church home, or want to investigate the different Las Cruces church communities, here are two profiles of local churches that might let you explore new directions in your spiritual path.
University Church of Christ, 1555 University Avenue
Adult Minister Jeffery Heidenreich at University Church of Christ believes in scripture as much as he believes that church should have a “come as you are” atmosphere. “The first time my mom came, she asked me, ‘Is this the kind of church where I need to wear a dress or skirt?’’’ said Heidenreich laughing. “Come with jeans or come in a suit; we are welcome to all.”
UCC does have two different worship times to appeal to different crowds. At 9 a.m. UCC has an a cappella choir and more traditional service, and at 10:15 a.m. the service is an instrumental band for a more contemporary feel. An 11:30 contemporary service is added during New Mexico State University’s fall and spring semesters. Wednesday
evenings has classes at 7 p.m. A children’s class runs concurrently with the services and there is also a nursery available.
Heidenrich says one of the strengths of the church is in their community groups. Meeting once a week, usually Sundays through Thursdays, in people’s homes, the groups are demographically similar in order for people to share their faith in a group going through similar experiences, such a group of seniors or men out of college, but not yet married. “We have fellowship with food, time in prayer, and Bible study,” said Heidenrich. “We ask them to be involved in a service project, such as cleaning up lots or helping with the Gospel Rescue Mission.”
“We believe 100 percent from scripture,” said Heidenrich. “With our sermons we are currently walking through the Bible; in the last year and a half walking through the book of John. We just finished up Chapter 12, so we have some time left.”
UCC is looking for a new teaching pastor for their congregation of about 300 – 500 members, depending on the time of the year. To find their new pastor, the church will be having a Blockbuster Summer Series with different pastors speaking about their favorite passages from scripture, such as Milton Jones, the president of the Christian Relief Fund, on June 22.
Community of Christ, 1201 Montana Avenue
For 12 years, Barbara Darrington has been either the co-pastor or the sole pastor of the Community of Christ. A small church located on South Solano, the atmosphere is like stepping into someone’s home.
“We used to have a real strong push into the neighborhood,” said Darrington. “A number of low-income families joined us. It was interesting to watch them progress above that. We had one in particular who literally walked off the streets and had been dumpster diving — now she’s going for an associate’s degree.”
COC tries to open themselves to the area with movie nights and praise services. “It’s not worship, it’s just singing songs,” says Darrington. Their last was an open Easter brunch. “We figured that people might not have a church, but they might want fellowship for Easter.”
Relaxed and open is how Darrington believes her members to be. “Blue jeans with holes in them is just fine,” said Darrington. “We are a group of people that are very diverse in our thinking. We are Hispanic, African American, and Anglo. We have a Safe Zone sign in the front: everyone is welcome.”
The church’s beliefs are in the Trinity according to Darrington. “We also believe in the Book of Mormon, but we are not part of the Latter Day Saints Church. Different perspectives, same roots,” said Darrington. “We believe in ongoing modern day revelation — the Lord speaks to church and to the individuals.”
Sunday classes are at 9:45 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. to leave a few minutes to chat before worship services start at 11 a.m. “If you leave without being spoken to and visited with, it’s because you left before the service was over,” said Darrington. “There are people who will do that because they don’t want that interaction yet and that’s okay too.”