Summer 2016: The History of Cristo del Valle Presbyterian Church

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Notes from Nona Browne, Library Director:
"Regarding our library's long-talked about expansion: Unfortunately it is delayed pending su-
cient funding. It is going to be more costly than we at rst understood, but the building fund is
growing steadily, and with paence the day will come!" In the meanme, we connue to funcon
as usual!
Watch for a much more searchable catalog of library holdings, which will be uploaded onto the
MHL website at within the next couple of months. Also, check the
website for three recent videos: (1) The History of Menaul Historical Library, (2) The History of
Menaul School, and (3) Presbyterian Missions in New Mexico and Southern Colorado.
From the Editor:
This edion of the Review recounts the history of Cristo del V alle Presbyterian Church, which
had its last service on Pentecost Sunday, May 15, 2016. Gloria Mirabal was kind enough to
volunteer to provide this remembrance. Many thanks to others involved over the years in
the work of Cristo del Valle who provided input.
We hope you like our choice of subjects. We are also open to receiving suggesons from
you, our readers, of topics you would like to see in the Review.
Jim Prewi
Bethany PC(USA)
There is no greater task today, than that of New Church Development. This is as true today as
it was in biblical times. According to the current Presbyterian Church (USA) website for 1001
New Worshiping Communities,, the 1001 New Worshiping
Communities movement “inspires us to recapture a ministry methodology that once was part
of the church-planting fabric of the Presbyterian Church. We need a vision beyond ourselves
that deeply resonates with what God is already doing in the larger church—namely, creating
communities of faith outside our standard models of church planting.”
Long before the 1001 New Worshiping Communities effort of today, Executive Presbyter Rev.
Dr. Robert N. Allen, through prayer, discernment, and visioning, led the effort to begin a new
church development in an area of Albuquerque that has long been under-served by mainline
Protestant denominations.
There were two small Presbyterian congregations serving Albuquerque's South Valley in the
first half of the twentieth century. Westminster Presbyterian Church was started in 1938 as a
Sunday school national mission project, and was served by dedicated pastors including Rev. J.
W. Brink, Rev. J. A. Henry, Rev. David Reiter, and others. The Sunday School met in the old
Armijo School Building. Church services and organization meetings were held in homes.
Ground was broken for a building in February 1941, with Rev. E. F. Kuykendall serving as
organizing pastor at a salary of $25 per month plus pension. Rev. Kuykendall served from
January 1941 until August 1941, at which time he joined the United States Navy. On April 27,
by vote of Session, the church name was changed from Armijo Presbyterian to Westminster
Presbyterian Church. At a congregational meeting on September 28, 1941, a vote was taken to
change from Sunday School Mission to General National Missions, and to ask support from
the National Church. The last serving pastor was Rev. Sydney Sandusky, who served until Ju-
ly 1978, when Westminster was dissolved.
Bethany Presbyterian Church was organized
on August 27, 1947, with a charter member-
ship of 31. In 1937, Rev. David Reiter started
a nondenominational Sunday School, which
was discontinued during the war years. Rev.
Morton Young started another Sunday School
in the 1940's in the Old Pajarito School House.
Worship services were held in a garage. The
Presbyterian Mission Board sent Sunday
school missionary, Miss Marie Hubbell, who
worked with Ruth Brulingame for four years.
Miss Hubbell later became one of the first
women to be ordained as a Presbyterian Minis-
Cristo del Valle PC(USA)
Rev. Kenneth Heuber was installed as Pastor of Bethany on September 9, 1951. He served
the church until his death on January 29, 1954, when Rev. Raymond L. Wotring accepted a
call to serve Bethany from 1954 until his sudden death in October 1960. The shock of his
death was difficult for the church. During the tenure of Rev. Donald MacDougall, who
served from July 1962 to December 1967, the Presbytery of the Rio Grande purchased the
unused St. Isador Catholic Church, which was next door to Bethany church. After renova-
tions on the newly purchased building were completed, the first worship service was con-
ducted on Easter Sunday 1969. Rev. Wilfred Sawyier served as interim, when on March
28, 1975, Rev. Sydney Sandusky was installed as pastor of both Bethany and Westminster
churches, and services were conducted by turns in both churches.
Thus, a new church development was begun when
Bethany Presbyterian Church and Westminster Pres-
byterian Churches were dissolved. According to a
Mission Study dated July 12, 1998, "The vision of
the Presbytery of Santa Fe (PSF) was that this new
congregation would be a Presbyterian presence and
mission arm of the PSF in the South Valley of Albu-
querque." Three and one-half acres of land on Isleta
Blvd. S.W., were donated by the Clinton P. Ander-
son family for the purpose of constructing a new
church building
The Rev. Dewey Johnson, Jr. was called as organizing pastor on August 19, 1978. He came to Al-
buquerque from the First Presbyterian Church of Galveston, Texas, where he was Associate Pastor.
A native of Roswell, New Mexico, Rev. Johnson attended West Texas State University in Canyon,
Texas, Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, and received his theological degree from
Austin Theological Seminary. His wife, Cheri Cramer Johnson is a native of Albuquerque.
An organizational meeting was held on April 8, 1979. There were approximately 91 charter mem-
bers including 27 members transferring from Bethany Presbyterian, and 41 members transferring
from Westminster. The name of the church would be “Cristo del Valle.”
Plans were drawn up, which called for a southwest design, with a trombe wall on the south side
that would utilize the rays of the sun. In the summer of 1980, charter members and members of
supporting churches began the task of making adobes for the trombe wall and the wall surrounding
the church. Adobes were later purchased to complete the project.
According to Rev. Johnson, "General construction of the church is a very modern use of an old
New Mexican appearance by architects Blaine Young and Jack Gaffney of Santa Fe, New Mexico,
utilizing passive solar energy thru (sic) large facing glass.” He further states, "Of interest in the
sanctuary design was one drawing of the Solomonic temple in Jerusalem. Biblical architect T. A.
Busink's reconstruction excites the imagination of present day similarities with our Cristo del Valle
church design."