Hospitality on the corner: Gaston Christian Center
What happens when a church in decline decides to embrace the immigrants in its changing neighborhood? Gaston Christian Center is the surprising yet logical progression of Gaston Avenue Baptist Church, for decades a powerhouse in Dallas, TX, with a peak membership of 7,000 and a legacy of producing more foreign missionaries than any other church affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Now the church claims only 100 in membership, but on any given week, they host more than 2,000 people for worship services, medical care, educational activities and community events. Five different native congregations worship there. “If two of our greatest challenges in this country are immigration and health care, then we’re a microcosm of that in this building.”
This series in the “Welcoming the Stranger” project is part of the BNG Storytelling Projects Initiative. In “Welcoming the Stranger,” we share the inspiring stories of the people and faith communities that are teaching us all to love our neighbor as ourselves.
This series is written by Jeff Hampton. Photos are by Allan Akins.
On any given Sunday, Gaston Christian Center teems with the colors and languages of Africa, the Far East, Central America and the Middle East. Sundays at Gaston Christian Center are a carefully orchestrated coming and going of people. The main worship center is shared by three congregations through the day, while another large space – the activity center – is shared by two more. Gaston Oaks (formerly Gaston Avenue Baptist Church), a membership of about 100, is now a rent-paying tenant with all the other churches and organizations sharing the building.
View the photo gallery or watch raw videos of singing at their worship services (Chin Agape Baptist Church, Karen Baptist Church) or an interview with Pastor Has Twel and Wallace Yay to see for yourself.
Seed money to launch our Storytelling Projects initiative and our initial series of projects has been provided through generous grants from the Christ Is Our Salvation Foundation and the Eula Mae and John Baugh Foundation. For information about underwriting opportunities for Storytelling Projects, contact David Wilkinson, BNG’s executive director and publisher, at [email protected] or 336.865.2688.