In 2004, Pedro Vitinio and his four siblings sat in living rooms sharing their love of God with families and close friends. This year, what is now the Iglesia Cristiana Rios De Agua Viva (Rivers of Living Water Christian Church) will celebrate its 15th anniversary with the grand opening of a new facility.
The church is moving west of town to 37762 Hwy. 50 — the previous home of Viva Mexico Mexican restaurant, which closed in 2013 — right next to the Rodeway Inn.
When Vitinio and his wife, Gabriella, moved their family of seven to Gunnison, they realized the community had no Spanish church. Vitinio had already been studying the Bible with his siblings and knew he could provide such a church to the community — even without the physical building.
Vitinio started to reach out to his community members and friends and would preach in their homes and basements. They gathered wherever they could.
Currently, the church has around 50 members including children, but has had many more members throughout the last 15 years. While the church welcomes all, the service is entirely in Spanish with some translation from Vitinio’s daughters — Joanna (16), Adamary (15) and Abigail (12).
“The intention is that the word of God reaches the Hispanic community in Gunnison,” said Vitinio.
The church identifies as Christian and studies the Bible, but they do not claim a further denomination. However, Joe Burguss, brother of the church and occasional translator for the Vitinios, says the Baptist churches in Gunnison have helped Iglesia Cristiana Rios De Agua Viva throughout its existence.
“The Baptist church has been very supportive and helpful,” said Burguss. “They’ve been instrumental in starting the church and are still involved today.”
Each church service opens with scripture. “Usually a psalm, then a worship song sung by the worship band,” said Vitinio.
After the opening, the congregation gives time for testimonials as well as prayer offerings. The service closes with a sermon usually given by Vitinio himself.
Vitinio started the church as a way to get closer to God.
“I wanted us to seek God and I wanted us to seek God together,” said Vitinio.
Now that he has a following and community here in Gunnison, Vitinio sees a further goal of his church.
“The purpose of the church is to work with the community,” said Vitinio. “To help those in need physically and spiritually.”
“I don’t know how to encapsulate how incredible the journey has been,” Burguss added. “From the very first time I visited the church, I knew God was delighted with the work (the Vitinios) were doing.”
This year, Vitinio and his siblings decided to celebrate the anniversary of the church with the opening of the new facility in September. The exact opening date for Iglesia Cristiana Rios De Agua Viva is still in progress.
(Editor's Note: The grand opening of Iglesia Cristiana Rios De Agua Viva is scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 13.)