A calling to reach our community
In February of 2006 the Valley Praise design team led by Pastor Janne Clinton, both of First United Methodist Church, launched the first worship service at Gutierrez Middle School at 3205 Wilson Road in Harlingen. Valley Praise launched with just under 100 people and maintained momentum for the remainder of the spring season.
In June 2006 Pastor Aaron Gabriel Saenz was appointed as Lead Pastor of Valley Praise. This is Pastor Aaron’s first and only appointment as Pastor thus far. In June 2006 Valley Praise had a worshiping congregation of about 60 people.
By the fall of 2007 Valley Praise had grown to a weekly average of 240 people. God was moving tremendously in West Harlingen and beyond. Much of the growth in the fall of ’07 can be attributed to “The Big Day”. The highlight of the preparation for “The Big Day” was a team member who built two 4×8 signs with logo and mounted them on two pick-up trucks and parked them at strategic places around town.
In July 2008 Hurricane Dolly hit the Rio Grande Valley leaving destruction in its wake. Valley Praise decided to still meet that Sunday following the storm. We met on the patio of Gutierrez Middle School that Sunday with about 185 people. It was a pure acoustic led service, but the Holy Spirit was speaking loudly. At the service we distributed water bottles and ice to people who were without electricity and running water. We also compiled a list of homes that were damaged and assembled teams to place tarps on roofs, remove dry wall, and scrape tile. It was the beginning of our community minded vision.
With worship attendance reaching all time highs we planned for and launched VP2 which was our Second Service model of weekend worship. We kept our 10am worship time and added an 11:30am worship experience.
On April 5, 2009 we celebrated 11 baptisms by immersion on the lawn of Gutierrez Middle School. This provided fuel for the evangelistic fire of the church and because of this a vision for Kingdom Growth was realized. Baptisms remain at the forefront of our vision because it symbolizes new beginnings in Jesus Christ.
The Ministry Center
In August of 2009 we acquired an office space for rent off of Expressway 83 on the West Side of Harlingen. This not only provides us with space to do ministry throughout the week, but a sign that is visible 24 hours from the expressway. Our vision is to fill that space with Grow Groups throughout the week.
A New Church
As of June 1st 2010 Valley Praise will be a New Church Start of the Southwest Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church. As of June 5th 2010 Pastor Aaron Gabriel Saenz will be appointed as Sr. Pastor of the new congregation in which he will serve alongside his partner in ministry Iris Saenz. A Commissioning service is to be held in the Fall of the same year.
With our iGrow Discipleship System in place and the re-launching of Grow Groups we believe that we are poised and ready for God to continue to move us to a new level of ministry. Our leadership, C.O.R. Team, is young and passionate and excited about our vision and mission. Our team’s vision is not only to reach Harlingen with the Gospel of Life Change through creative methods, but to reach the Valley. We invite all who seek to accomplish that mission with us.