East Side church expanding to counter gang influences

Pastor: Hope is to reach more children, then their parents

SAN ANTONIO – The foundation being laid for the expansion of Corner Gate Christian Church, in a symbolic sense, is seen as what’s needed to help counter gang influences on San Antonio’s East Side.

“We’re here to make a major impact in the surrounding areas of Eastside San Antonio,” said Pastor Oscar L. Dean.

He said the plan is to have more space for classrooms and other programs to first reach more children and then their parents. “You get them involved and the parents will come. They’ll see the positive impact we’re having on their kids,” said Courtland Christian, a deacon in training at the church.

Michael Ward, also a deacon in training, said that’s exactly what happened with his mother who wasn’t a churchgoer back then.

“But when she started seeing me go as a kid, being picked up, my mom started going to church,” Ward said. “I think we really need to go back to that in the community because that helped us a lot.”

Ward said he recalls, “we had elders ride through the neighborhood, pick us up on Sundays, and take us to church.”

Ward and several other deacons in training said they hope to be positive role models for youth who are susceptible to gangs. Jerrime Gardner said he believes that’s now his mission in life since retiring from the U.S. Navy.

Gardner said the East Side has struggled with crime and violence for a long time. But he said the almost daily shootings over the past several months, has helped galvanize the community and the response to their needs, from churches to politicians.

“The Lord always tests us before he blesses us,” Gardner said. “So some bad had to happen for folks to really be who we need to be, and that’s together.”

Still raising funds for its expansion, their pastor said Corner Gate Christian Church is trying to do its part. 

Darwin Powell, the contractor on the job who also attends Corner Gate, said the steps they’re taking to improve the church are “a positive step in the right direction.”