San Antonio is home to many different flavors of churches, congregations, fellowships and other such communities of worship. One in particular that deserves more exposure is the Eitz Chaim Congregation (ECC) of San Antonio. Eitz Chaim is Hebrew for “Tree of Life,” a fitting name since the ECC family is composed of Torah-observant congregants that embrace the Jewish roots of faith in God—the Biblical God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Though labels can often be limiting, ambiguous or inaccurate, ECC is best categorized as a Messianic congregation, with its focus on Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah. Congregation leaders Cameron and Melissa Elam recently received ordination from the Coalition of Torah-Observant Messianic Congregations in 2012, though they have served in ministry for 15 years. They initiated ECC in 2007, answering God’s call to provide a welcoming home of worship, Scripture study, prayer, and fellowship to the community of Jews and Gentiles alike.
In keeping the Biblical Sabbath, or Shabbat in Hebrew, ECC holds its services on Friday evenings at 7:30, close to sundown. Elements of the services include the blowing of the shofar, candle lighting, English/Hebrew liturgy, praise and worship (occasionally with Davidic dance), prayer, Torah service, blessings, and plenty of fellowship. There is also a weekly lesson for the children that often relates to the adult lesson. Of note, when first-time visitors participate in a service, Cameron takes the time to explain any potentially unfamiliar elements to allow for a deeper level of appreciation for (and comfort with) the event. Further, beyond the weekly Shabbat services, ECC periodically conducts informal lessons/discussions on Saturday afternoons with the focus on Scriptural, holy living as part of the Body of Messiah.
In addition to studying and applying God’s instructions as given throughout the entirety of Scripture—including the Torah—the congregation also celebrates all the annual Biblical holidays, including Pesach (Passover), Shavuot (Pentecost), Rosh HaShanah or Yom Teruah (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), and several more. These celebrations sometimes include joint gatherings with other congregations in town. Just as throughout Biblical history, these events typically include plenty of Biblically clean food, music and fellowship.
If you are interested in visiting an Erev Shabbat (Shabbat Eve) service at Eitz Chaim, the congregation meets at the Grant Community Christian Center Church building at the intersection of Potranco Road and Micron Drive (7667 Potranco Road, San Antonio, TX 78251). For more information, please e-mail Cameron and Melissa Elam at EitzChaimSA@yahoo.com.