Rio Grande Presbyterian Church was the first church to be organized under the “New Life” postwar expansion effort of the Presbyterian Church at the end of World War II. The church was organized as Lavaland Community Church on January 5, 1947 (Betty Corliss, “A History of Rio Grande Presbyterian Church”), when 45 charter members began meeting at the old two-room Lavaland School on Albuquerque's West Mesa. At the time, it was the only Protestant church on the West Mesa, and members came from many denominations. Rev. Albert W. Barber arrived on July 24, 1947, and the first session was held on August 22, 1947. By 1948, the membership had grown to 68 members. In 1952, the name of the church was changed to Lavaland Presbyterian Church. Efforts to build a new church building began in 1961. At that time the name was changed to Rio Grande Presbyterian Church, with the tagline, “Serving the Entire Westside.”
The congregation contemplated purchasing land for the new church adjacent to the Lavaland Church on 58th Street; however, the decision was made to purchase land at Coors Road and Daytona. Financing was acquired in 1965, and ground breaking took place on Sunday, December 12, 1965. The new sanctuary was dedicated on October 16, 1966. The first pastor of Rio Grande Presbyterian Church was Rev. J. M. Young. In 1971 the congregation took steps to wean itself from mission support in order to become self-supporting. On its 40th anniversary, Rio Grande was free of debt and had a membership of 107. The Christian Education Wing was dedicated in February 1983. The Rio Grande Food Project, now a city-wide non-profit, which partners with Roadrunner Food Bank and the Store House, gives over 7 tons of food/week to those in need, and has been in operation 25 years. We are a congregation who loves Christ and seeks to show His love and hospitality to others.
If you'd like to volunteer at the Food Project, or need food, contact Lisa Fernandez, Volunteer Coordinator,
or Ariel Herring, Food Project Director, at 831-3778.