In the center of the East Central neighborhoods of La Mesa and Trumbull there is a light that shine brightly. This highly transient, low-income neighborhood is vulnerable to devious activity but with a deep commitment to the ministry of reconciliation and a persevering spirit, East Central Ministries offers an alternate reality to one of Albuquerque’s most violent and poverty-stricken areas.
ECM was developed in the spring of 1999 by John Bulten as a inter-denominational missions ministry in Albuquerque. John spent the first two years walking the streets, talking to our neighbors and the relationships that he built during that time continues 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. They renovated the property and opened with two community programs, “Wings of Eagles” youth leadership program and the Community Food Co-op.
Over the past years ECM has evolved in several directions and has become a vital part of the community. However, ECM primary focuses continues to be to build long-term lasting relationships with their neighbors. This is a unique approach in a “social service” organization because they actually encourage people to participate in their programs/community on a regular, long-term basis. They are committed to long-term development and economic projects within the community as well as providing community led classes and initiatives.
We met John when we arrived for our tour. His welcoming presence and enthusiasm for his work and neighborhood was apparent. We met Morgan who runs the Urban Farm, Becky and Katina who facilitates the community youth programs, Louise, Shirley and many others who live at the Housing cooperative, Casa Shalom. We also met Bob who manages Common Goods Thrift Store and the staff at the Community run health care clinic, One Hope, which is the primer work site for medical students at the University of New Mexico.
There was a lot going on at ECU! We observed vibrant life and a people with a commitment to continue to work out relationship struggles. That openness to seeing cracks, discord and seeking reconciliation was most encouraging to us. It’s one thing to care for the community around you, to have great programs but we believe to be a people willing to nurture and seek reconciliation in the most intimate relationships brings true life to the community around us. We know that commitment is what will sustain them through the years. We are blessed to have met these “Tillers” and look forward to more times of community with our new Albuquerque friends. We also encourage you to connect with them along your way. Visit http://www.eastcentralministries.org for more info. Give them a call, they are your global/local neighbor.