The East Central neighborhoods of La Mesa and Trumbull were once active and thriving residential and commercial corridors along Route 66 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The area consisted mostly of restaurants, gas stations, hotels and Air Force base housing. Then in the 1970’s Interstate 40 was constructed through the center of Albuquerque, which re-routed the Rt. 66 traffic away from the area. During this same period Kirtland Air Force Base relocated base housing onto the base.
These two events combined with several other contributors had a detrimental effect on the area. The businesses that depended on Rt. 66 traffic closed and the former base houses and apartments were either boarded up or sold largely to absentee landlords. The 1980’s saw a decline in the average family income and an increase in crime. Today, La Mesa and Trumbull Neighborhoods are attempting to recover from the past three decades of decline, but there is still much to accomplish.
Because La Mesa/Trumbull is a highly transient and low-income neighborhood it is vulnerable to devious activity. The area leads Albuquerque in the percentage of violent crimes, domestic violence, prostitution, and poverty levels. Poverty rates among residents approach 52% in some quarters.The “temporary arrangement” mindset of many of the residents contributes to the lack of community investment while obstacles such as multiple spoken languages, undocumented immigration, and racism further inhibit community development.
In contrast, La Mesa and Trumbull have many assets. The area provides the highest concentration of cultural and ethnic diversity in the state. There are about 15,000 residents consisting of approximately 63% Hispanic, 24% Caucasian, 8% Native American, 3% African American and 2% Asian. Restaurants and stores range from Oaxacan craft shops to Native American Jewelry stores to Ta Lin Vietnamese and World Markets. In addition, the State Fair grounds and Historic Rt. 66 are located in the heart of our neighborhood.
Although the assets of the neighborhood are numerous, the need for community-building initiatives is tremendous. Many local organizations provide direct social services to individuals; however, few organizations are attempting to bring cultures and races together to work collectively toward a more just community.
That’s where we come in…
East Central Ministries (ECM) is a Christ-based, community development ministry located in the center of the La Mesa and Trumbull neighborhoods. ECM was developed in the spring of 1999 by John Bulten as a mission organization of Fellowship Christian Reformed Church in Albuquerque. John spent the first two years walking the streets, talking to our neighbors. The relationships that he built during that time continue to be the foundation of the ministry today. In the summer of 2001, ECM moved into a boarded up building that was being used as a drug house. We renovated the property and opened with two community programs, “Wings of Eagles” youth leadership program and the Community Food Co-op. At this time, we incorporated into a separate inter-denominational ministry.
Over the past several years ECM has evolved in several directions and has become a vital part of the community. ECM focuses on long-term development and economic projects within the community as well as providing community led classes and initiatives. So much activity happens at the ministry now that no one person can describe it all. Our website provides general information on projects, programs and Bible studies, but the only way to experience it all is to come and see for your selves.
How We Disciple
East Central Ministries is a relational ministry, meaning that one of our main goals is to build long-term lasting relationships with our neighbors. This is a unique approach in a “social service” organization because we actually encourage people to return to participate in our programs on a regular, long-term basis. It is through these long-term relationships that we are able to share our faith with our friends.
We have scheduled bible studies, Sunday Worship times and morning prayer but you will find that most of our discipleship is done informally; one on one conversations while working in the garden, small group discussions while driving to a conference or answering curious questions from our 9 year old neighbor. We are presented daily with opportunities to spread the good news and we try do so in an organic and relational model presented throughout scripture.
Mission and Values
Our Mission: As followers of Christ, we are committed to living out our faith by partnering with our vulnerable neighbors to cultivate solutions, development and transformation in the southeast “International District” of Albuquerque, NM.
Our Vision is to be a partner in the transformation of our neighborhood into communities where God’s peace is present and all of God’s children can flourish.
- to build a sustainable, diverse community consisting of both Christians and non-Christians.
- to partner with, equip and empower our neighbors.
- to be disciples through word and work to our neighbors.
- to educate and inspire others to become involved in Christian community development.
In word and deed,
- we bring glory to Jesus Christ.
- Our decisions are guided by the Bible and the Holy Spirit.
- we are accountable to God through the broader Church.
- we work towards the long term development of our local neighborhood.
- we work toward mutually giving relationships that provide respect and empowerment for all.
- we celebrate cultural differences while working towards reconciliation and justice.
- we work together as well as worship, pray and play together.
- we value the genuine relationships that come from our family-like, “intentionally unorganized” environment.
- we are joyful in ministry!