COSTALEGRE COMMUNITY CHURCH – A BRIEF HISTORY
In 1995, Richard Lennie, of Pender Harbour BC, announced that he wanted to relocate to Melaque. When Nancy, his wife, insisted that she must have a church, Richard promised to start one. They moved in 1996.
In 1997, Richard and Nancy approached Bishop Dean Underwood, an Anglican living in La Manzanilla, on how to start a church. The Bishop said, “Just do it.” The Bishop conducted the first service on his patio in La Manzanilla, and invited his cousin, the Reverend Max Nye, also of La Manzanilla, to pastor the fledgling congregation.
The congregation, called San Patricio by the Sea, and sometimes St Patrick’s by the Sea, met in the main patio of Hotel La Paloma, the Lennies’ business. Attendance soon reached 45 and outgrew La Paloma’s patio.
The congregation moved to a room over the vacant Gonzalo’s Market on Benito Juarez, opposite the Villa Obregon jardin. When it became known that the market building would be demolished, Sue Kennedy, Richard’s cousin, offered vacant space at Restaurante Maya, then located at the end of Alvaro Obregon, facing the beach. But eventually the restaurant crowd and the good smells from the kitchen proved sufficiently distracting that another move was needed.
Sue came through again, with a token rental on a lot at the corner of Alvaro Obregon and Las Cabañas, where the first church would be built. This church, with a brick floor and a palapa roof, served the congregation from 1999 until it was destroyed by fire on Easter weekend 2011.
The first church had grown to two Sunday services with an attendance of 75 at each, and the lot could not take a larger building, so two years before the fire a committee was struck to find a larger property. The donation of $25,000 from one family enabled the purchase of the present property at Alberto Macias and Reforma, and a building fund had been started. God’s blessing on this ministry was evident. Construction was able to begin at once under the supervision of the year-round residents, and the new San Patricio church was ready for use by the winter of 2011/12.
But San Patricio had long been the name the Roman Catholic church opposite the Melaque jardin, so in 2014 the Board of Directors opted to change their name from San Patricio by the Sea to Costalegre Community Church. Costalegre (from costa, “coast”, and alegre, “joyful”) is a tourist corridor of beaches and picturesque villages to the North of Manzanillo (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Costalegre).
Costalegre Community Church operates primarily during the tourist season of November through April. In addition to Sunday services, the congregation supports the Melaque community with an annual clothing drive, food baskets for needy locals, and donations of medicines and school supplies. Men’s and women’s breakfasts build fellowship among church folk, and cultural awareness lectures help the ex-pat community to understand their new cultural environment. Full-time residents also hold Bible studies and worship services in the intervening months. During pastoral vacancies and in “off season”, services and Bible studies are conducted by lay leaders and visiting clergy.
In the name of Jesus, Costalegre Community Church is dedicated to serve both the tourists and ex-pat residents of Costalegre, and the local Mexican community whose hospitality is so graciously given and so wonderfully enjoyed.
1997 Rt Rev Dean Underwood Anglican
1997-98 Rev Max Nye Anglican
1999 pastoral vacancy
2000-01 Rev Antonio (Tony) Welty Presbyterian
2002 Rev Ken Smith Presbyterian
2003-04 Rev John Aasman Christian Reformed
2005-17 Rev Ron Klein Reformed Church in America
2018- Rev Al Stebing Baptist