Pastor Otto de Toro
Pastor Otto de Toro
Pastor Otto de Toro
Pastor Otto del Toro
Following months of dedicated effort, all carried out by church members, the Springfield I Hispanic Church and Springfield II Hispanic Company in Tennessee, achieved significant milestones by respectively completing reconstruction and remodeling projects of their temples. The congregations of these churches celebrated the accomplishments on October 28 and November 4, 2023, with special Sabbath services.
A Dream of Two Churches
Established in the year 2000 through the initiative of five families, Springfield I initially convened in one of the family’s homes. As the congregation expanded, the need for a larger space became evident, and the group acquired a small church building. In 2002, Carmelo Rivera, pastor, who was the Hispanic ministries coordinator for the Kentucky-Tennessee Conference at that time, appointed Armando de León, pastor — now the current Kentucky-Tennessee Hispanic ministries coordinator — as a Bible worker for the growing congregation. This decision laid the groundwork for the formation of both the Hispanic churches of Elkton and Springfield II.
A new congregation emerged amidst the global pandemic on September 26, 2020. Inspired by the growth of Springfield I and the opportunity it presented for sharing the Gospel, de León initiated the organization of a new group by reaching out to Emilio Perche, pastor, who was assigned to the district at that time. Perche selected families from Springfield I and the Madison Hispanic Church to form this new assembly. It officially became a company on January 15, 2023, and a month later, Otto del Toro, pastor, was appointed to lead the district.
A Dream of Growth
Facing the challenge of accommodating their growing congregation, Springfield I, which has an average attendance of 120 people each Sabbath, shifted their meetings to their gym due to its larger capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing the need for a more suitable space, the church initiated plans to rebuild and remodel their facilities.
“In a sense, the pandemic was a blessing for us,” said Hugo Vazquez, member at Springfield I. “Our membership grew during the pandemic, and our tithes and offerings increased as well. Soon, it became evident that we had outgrown [the gym].”
Meanwhile, Springfield II, which has a current Sabbath attendance of approximately 80 people, had been generously gifted a church building by the English-speaking Springfield Adventist Church. However, the building required substantial remodeling and repairs to meet the congregation’s needs. The pressing need for additional space prompted the leadership to undertake a practical and essential renovation project.
“We said, ‘Let’s go now by faith,’” said Saul Vargas, Springfield II member. “We practically had no money, but we did have the desire to see the temple look beautiful, just as God deserves.”
Dreams Under Construction
Construction for Springfield I commenced in late March of 2023. The project involved dismantling the existing structure and reconstructing the church essentially from scratch, retaining only the original steel frames. Concurrently, in June 2023, remodeling work began at Springfield II.
The two churches spent just over $140,000 in materials for the projects. Both the construction and the remodeling efforts were completed entirely through the volunteer efforts of dedicated church members. Week after week, members dedicated their Sundays to work on the roofing, flooring, lighting, plumbing, and more.
“Every member was involved,” said del Toro. “Those who did not know anything about construction would clean or sweep. Those who did not clean or sweep would prepare food to bring to the workers. Some would organize fundraisers, and others would travel all the way to Georgia to pick up the materials.”
The construction and remodeling projects were successfully completed by the end of October 2023. On October 28, Springfield II dedicated their remodeled temple, which can now accommodate 120 people, during a special Sabbath service. The service included a baptism. The following weekend, Springfield I also dedicated their newly rebuilt temple, which was also expanded to accommodate 190 people.
“It is an honor to work for the cause of God,” said Vargas. “The Lord put this project in our hearts, and He gave us the skills to see it done.”
The Dream Continues
Both churches continue to plan for the future. Springfield I is focusing on external renovations to enhance its overall appearance. Springfield II has set its sights on constructing a gym to serve the needs for their youth ministries.
“The first thing that I learned as a child is that you give the best to God,” said del Toro. “Everything we do in the Church, first of all, is to glorify God and, secondly, it is to reach the community. When visitors come to the church, they must feel welcomed, comfortable, and at peace. [This project] was important to us because this is where God meets His children.”
Kentucky-Tennessee | February 2024