‘God is at work': Casa de Dios gets permanent home in Pensacola
(Kari Barlow for the Alabama-West Florida Conference) - The ceremony on June 29 was simple, but for Pastor Andres Doimeadios, the small gathering marked the start of something huge. It was the day the Pensacola District Board of Congregational Development gifted the Casa de Dios Gateway of Heaven Church with a permanent home—a vacant property on Pace Boulevard in Pensacola.
“Up to now, we have been leasing a space for $1700 per month,” said Doimeadios, who has led the district’s UMC Hispanic Ministry since 2011. “Now this is our new home, a place of new beginnings.”
For the past six years, the ministry has served more than 700 Hispanic members in various temporary locations across Northwest Florida. A couple of months ago, Doimeadios informed the District Board that the owner of its current space was selling the building and that the congregation had until July 1 to find a new facility. With the property on Pace Boulevard on the market, the board saw a way to fulfill its mission of developing new churches and helping existing churches with emergency needs.
“They had been taking the church to the people,” District Board President Duane Keck said. “They were going to Fort Walton Beach and to Mary Esther and they were growing.” After learning more about Doimeadios’ efforts, the board decided to move forward in faith, purchasing the Pace Boulevard property for $140,000. “This was a God thing,” said Keck, a member of Trinity UMC in Fort Walton Beach. “We prayed about it, and we just knew that God was saying this was a good thing—and it’s good for that community.”
At the ceremony, Keck and board members Al Bruner and Owen Sharp presented Doimeadios with a deed to the new property as well as keys to all the buildings and $10,000 for remodeling and ministry expenses. “It was a wonderful day in the Pensacola District!” Pensacola District Superintendent Tim Trent said. “As soon as Andres and his people can get the remodeling done, we will have an open house for everyone to see.”
Transforming the world
For Doimeadios, who was presented with the 2017 Denman Evangelism Award at Annual Conference, the building is far more than brick and mortar. “God is at work around us,” he said. “He allowed for this donation to take place so we could have a permanent home to study the word and spread the gospel and to serve the communities around us—not only our Hispanic brethren.”
Casa de Dios itself—a congregation of more than 120 people from a variety countries including America, Honduras, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Guatemala and Cuba—is proof of God’s presence. In 2016, Doimeadios and his ministry have led more than 90 people to Christ.
In addition to refurbishing one of the buildings as a sanctuary, he plans to use the property to offer discipleship and leadership ministries for children, youth and adults. Doimeadios also envisions providing English as a Second Language and GED classes and nutrition classes as well as an immigration legal clinic. “We will also have a temporary, safe place for people in need,” he said. “We are reaching out to make new disciples for Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!”