The Immanuel Lutheran Church of Alice recently welcomed their new pastor and his family. Pastor John Gooch and his family traveled to the small town of Alice from Canada approximately a month and a half ago.

Pastor Gooch has been in the ministry for over a decade in several different leadership positions. He got a call from the Immanuel Lutheran Church of Alice committee about a year ago with the offer to be the leader of their church.

"My mission is pretty straightforward. To bring Christ to the community. I'm a true believer that a lot of physical, social and health wise problems all have a spiritual lacking," Gooch said. "We don't come here looking to take anything from the community. We're looking to give to the community."

Before Pastor Gooch took his place in the ministry, many years ago, he had decided that ministry was not the place for him.

"I had decided that the most God was going to get out of me was being a medical missionary. So I actually started to prepare to (do) pre-med through a school in Europe," he stated. "I had been told by numerous people, over the years, that I should be in the ministry. I said no."

He and his wife, Vanessa, were ready to head off to Europe. They were to start their education to become doctors and help sick and injured individuals as medical missionaries, but things changed.

Together the couple prayed about what their next step in life would be. Were they headed to Europe or was he to be in the ministry?

"Within two weeks of praying, Canada changed its professional student loan policies because they had a bunch of doctors go to Europe rack up $150,000 in loans and never return to Canada," Pastor Gooch said. "They made a prerequisite that said you had to have somebody in Canada who would cosign for you and stay in Canada. There was no body for us, so we took that (as a sign)."

Years later, God sent him, his wife and three children down to Alice. Vanessa is staying at home homeschooling the children. Now, they are settling into their new life with new friends.

"I want the community to know that everybody's welcome. You don't have to dress a certain way...The most important thing, to me, is that people know that even though I am theologically Lutheran, I am first and foremost a Christian," Pastor Gooch said.

He welcomes everyone to attend their services for Sunday school and Sunday worship starting at 9 a.m. The church is located at 1400 North Texas Boulevard.