History Matrix
  - Sources
History of...
  - Ballooning
  - Civil War in Albuquerque
  - Land Grants
  - Neighborhoods
  - Place Names
  - Sports
  - Railroad Boom
  - New Deal Economy
  - Modern Economy
  - City History
  - Cultural History
  - Recommended Books
  - Task Force
U.S. Statehood Church, 1945-Now

Today, Albuquerque has about 600 houses of worship for most of the major religions except Hindus. From the original church, San Felipe de Neri, the Catholic Church now counts 32 parishes and more than 300,000 members. Baptists have grown to become 12 percent of the state population, second only to Catholics at 37 percent.

After the war, a number of new churches opened to serve new immigrants. They include the Armenian Church of Albuquerque and the All Saints of North America Church (Russian Orthodox). In Korea, Protestant churches became important cultural organizations and a way to express social resistance to Japan. When Koreans immigrated, they brought their churches with them. As a result, Albuquerque has the Korean Presbyterian Church, the Korean United Methodist Church, and the Korean American Baptist Church.

The First Methodist Church in 1950 completed a new educational building and then a new sanctuary in 1955. The old church became a parish house.

The Central United Methodist Church, which had been located at Arno and Central since 1912, moved to its current location in 1951. That same year, the new Temple Albert opened on Lead Ave.

In 1951 prominent architect John Gaw Meem, a member of St. John’s Episcopal Church, designed a building for the church. The new cathedral was consecrated in April 1963.


By 1957 Albuquerque had 150 churches, and by 1962 it had 170 churches.

The Immaculate Conception Church at Sixth and Copper was torn down and replaced with a modernist structure in 1959.

The non-denominational Alumni Memorial Chapel at UNM, designed in Franciscan Mission style by architect John Gaw Meem, was built in 1960 as a memorial to alumni killed in wars. The idea was initially proposed in 1944.

El Buen Samaritano United Methodist Church (formerly Bowman Chapel in Old Town) moved in 1961 to its present location at Seventh and Granite.

All Saints Lutheran Church opened in Paradise Hills in 1964, after previously holding services in a building that housed a grocery store and meat market. The church remained in Paradise Hills about eight years. Then it completed a building on a hill above Coors and Paseo del Norte, and the city grew around it. The church celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2004.

Secular priests took over San Felipe de Neri in 1966.

In 1979 the Archdiocese of Santa Fe authorized a new church for the Westgate neighborhood, Santuario de San Martín. Community members celebrated Mass in a school gymnasium while they planned their church. Retired home builder Bill Morga agreed to be the contractor, and Rosendo Cruz, the retired former co-owner of Star Paving, became his assistant. Louis Castillo was architect. Cruz became the driving force behind the church’s construction, laboring tirelessly. He never wanted credit for his effort. Instead he thanked God for giving him the strength to do the work, said friends and family. He died in 2005 at 86.

In 1982 Skip Heitzig started Calvary Chapel as a small Bible study program with in an apartment complex. He had four members. The church has grown to a 14,000-member mega-church with radio broadcasts, cable TV, and a Web site. Its campus includes a book store, restaurant, coffee shop and skate park.

In 1984 Temple Albert moved to its current location and expanded.

Mesa View United Methodist Church was founded in 1987. Initially the first pastor held services in his home. Then the church moved to an office building on Montaño for several years. In 1990 it relocated to an eight-acre site on the corner of Montaño and Taylor Ranch roads, which also had a park and a duck pond. Recently the church celebrated the opening of its new 7,000-square-foot ministry center.

The Islamic Center has served about 2,000 Muslims in Albuquerque since the 1980s. Members in 2005 announced that they will build a new mosque with a dome, eight arches, and a 56-foot minaret. The center and its leaders have participated in numerous outreach activities with churches and synagogues in the city.

First Baptist Church, the city’s oldest Protestant church, continued to grow. It completed an addition in 1978 and then in 1993 after tremendous growth, the church built a new 2,000-seat, five-story worship center, offices, and religious education and fellowship space. In 2005 the church, founded in 1853, announced its intention to move to the West Side.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, with more than 51,000 members in New Mexico, in 2000 opened the state's first Mormon temple in the Northeast Heights.

In 2003, two beams from the 78th floor of the World Trade Center were built into the new bell tower of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Barelas. The bell had been rediscovered after being lost for decades after the old church was demolished in the mid 1970s.

The Thai community in Albuquerque, along with other southeast Asians, raised funds to complete the Wat Buddhamongkolnimit in the Southeast Heights in 2003. The temple held a multi-day celebration at its completion.

Parishioners and neighborhood residents cleaned and restored the saints atop San Ignacio Catholic Church in Martineztown in 2003. John Trudo, a retired vocational woodshop teacher, led the effort. At one time, the statues stood in a cemetery in front of the church, but most of the graves were moved to the nearby Santa Barbara Cemetery in 1926. The area that was the cemetery became a park, and the statues were moved to the church roof.

Today San Felipe de Neri Church in Old Town, the third oldest church in America, continues to serve its community as a parish, at the same time it tries to accommodate tourists. It has a small museum and gift shop. Grapevines once used to make church wine still grow in the courtyard.

First United Methodist Church at 314 Lead SW celebrated its 125th anniversary in 2005. For most of its existence, First Methodist has occupied most of a city block between Coal and Lead.

Today, Albuquerque has about 600 houses of worship for most of the major religions except Hindus. From the original church, San Felipe de Neri, the Catholic Church now counts 32 parishes and more than 300,000 members. Baptists have grown to become 12 percent of the state population, second only to Catholics at 37 percent.

  ©2008 All rights reserved