By EDMOND ORTIZ
A downtown church that initially held services at the county courthouse in the 1840s is now celebrating 175 years of community service.
Travis Park Church, 230 E. Travis St., is having a yearlong anniversary observance.
“We’re raising hope and are anchored in faith,” Senior Pastor Eric Vogt said during a February virtual press conference at the sanctuary. “For 175 years, we’ve been a community of Christ seekers and followers who share God’s unconditional love and justice in action.”
In 1835, Lt. Col. William Barret Travis of the volunteer Texian Army wrote a letter calling for the establishment of a Methodist presence to serve an area where settlers began to revolt against the Mexican government.
Only months later, Travis died during the siege of the Alamo.
Methodist missionaries spent the next decade developing such a presence. One clergyman, John Wesley DeVilbiss, was assigned in 1846 to organize a church.
Methodists and Presbyterians created what is now Travis Park Church, one of the city’s first Protestant congregations.
Over the decades, its ministries have helped a range of vulnerable populations including homeless and hungry people, immigrants, and LGBTQ community members.
“We’ve also been working hard for LGBTQ inclusion and equality both in the church and beyond,” Vogt added.
Elected leaders representing the downtown area took part in the news conference to read city-, county- and state-approved proclamations formally recognizing the milestone.
District 1 Councilman Roberto Treviño delivered the municipal declaration, saying the church and its ministries do “one of the most important things anyone can do, which is make sure you’re seen, heard and taken care of.”
Precinct 4 County Commissioner Tommy Calvert complimented the parish’s welcoming of diversity.
“It’s an incredible legacy that we all share. The people of Travis Park Church break down the walls of prejudice and embrace all our brothers and sisters,” he added.
Treviño’s predecessor on the council, state Rep. Diego Bernal, D-San Antonio, offered a state announcement lauding the chapel’s mission.
“The church doesn’t just develop a personal relationship with God, it helps people to develop a working relationship with God,” he added.
Travis Park Church is also using its anniversary to promote a capital campaign, raising money to expand various programs, and to support repairs to the youth building, where a roof collapsed after a heavy rainfall in 2019.
For more, visit https://raisinghope.travispark.org.