As we begin 2015, the Indiana Conference of The United Methodist Church is proud to announce that it once again has a church worshipping in the city of East Chicago after a twenty year hiatus. East Chicago is a city of 30,000 residents, half of whom are Hispanic located in northwest Indiana.

The new church is Torre Fuerta (Strong Tower) and is led by Esequiel and Suri Becerra. It was started by the Becerras six years ago and has been meeting in Hammond First United Methodist Church’s building much of this time. The church, which has nearly 100 people in the congregation, began renovating a former Boys and Girls Club facility located in East Chicago over a year ago. After much hard work in remodeling a portion of this large facility, Torre Fuerta received its occupancy permit and was able to celebrate Christmas worship in East Chicago.

In the mid 1980s, the former North Indiana Conference attempted to start a new congregation in the city focused on Hispanics. Additionally, First United Methodist Church of East Chicago, after years of decline, closed in 1994 and its building was sold. Since then, there has been no United Methodist presence in the city, that is, until now.

Over the past few years, the Indiana Conference has been encouraging the development of Torre Fuerta, providing it with Church Development grants totaling $180,000. Nearby First United Methodist Church also graciously provided the use of its facility for the congregation and its pastor, Rev. Shannon Stringer, has been providing leadership for Torre Fuerta’s steering committee.

We celebrate with the Becerras and the Torre Fuerta congregation as they serve and disciple the people living in the East Chicago-Hammond area! May God richly continue to bless their efforts!

– Ed Fenstermacher, Associate Director of Church Development