Drive by the corner of S. St. Mary’s and Eagleland on Sunday morning and you can probably guess why the parking lot is full at San Antonio Mennonite Church. But you might be curious about why so many people are there throughout the week. You might be seeing the staff of the PEACE Initiative, planning a workshop for domestic violence victims or offenders. It could be the yoga class for community workers, sponsored by the Center for Formative Action and Reflection. Maybe you see students, young and old, taking accordion lessons with the Conjunto Heritage Taller. Perhaps you catch the comings and goings of people affected by sexual abuse, helping to heal through a poetry class called Me Too/Yo Tambien. If you see families working in the garden, they could be harvesting organic baby greens to sell to a local restaurant. A young mom and dad might be taking advantage of the Teen Parenting Resource Room. Volunteers might be coming to the building to be trained to work with refugees, in conjunction with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition. If it is the First Friday of the month, there may be events happening on the lawn: poetry readings, live music performances, food, and crafts. Last December, Teatro Audaz performed a Pastorela in the church sanctuary, and the same space hosted a Dream Week event in January.
The members of San Antonio Mennonite Church are happy to share our building with these valuable community partners. Their work aligns with our mission to be a “joyful and welcoming community, doing justice, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God.” But all these activities could grind to a halt: our HVAC systems are over 30 years old and could fail at any moment. Our beautiful historic building will not be inhabitable under a hot summer sun.
For the last ten years, we have been working on a comprehensive renovation plan. We replaced our red tile roof in 2011. We fixed stained glass windows and a set of wooden exterior doors through a grant from the San Antonio Conservation Society. Over the past year, Jim Heck of Fisher Heck Architects has created plans for a major overhaul: new HVAC will cover the entire building (the window units on our second floor will be removed), a new kitchen will be built, and handicapped-accessible bathrooms will be installed in the current kitchen space. There will be no changes to the exterior.
The price tag for our renovation will be near $800,000. To put this into perspective, our current annual budget for all expenses is $100,000. Through savings and the sale of church-owned property, we have raised slightly more than half our goal. Having financial support from the King William community would help us tremendously in caring for this historic neighborhood landmark. If you would like to support this much-needed work, please make a donation on our website, sanantoniomennonite.org, or by mail (1443 S. St. Mary’s St., 78210).
We are also interested in hearing from community members who attended church in our building prior to the mid-1980s, when it was Westminster Presbyterian Church. We want to know more about the history of our building. Please contact us through our Facebook page if you have stories to share.
If you would like a tour of the building, stop by any Sunday morning at 10:30. We have worship services at 11:00. We would love to meet you!
- Mitzi Moor