Churches Cancel Trip to Mexico

Drug-Related Violence Prompt Group To Stay In California

Concerns over growing drug-related violence have prompted a group of Sacramento-area churches to cancel a planned trip to Mexico.

About 700 people from the Bayside group of churches were scheduled to go to an area near Mexicali, Mexico, early next month to minister and perform community service projects.

But this past weekend, senior pastor Ray Johnston of the Bayside Church in Granite Bay announced to the congregation that this year's Mexico trip had been canceled and that an alternative trip within California was being planned.

Last month, the U.S. State Department issued a travel alert about "localized" violence in Mexico. Mexican officials said the violence killed 6,290 people last year and more than 1,000 in the first eight weeks of 2009.

"It was a tough decision. We really have a long standing-partnership with these friends in Mexico," said Bill Clark, chief of staff of Bayside Church in Granite Bay. "We count on it every year, and they count on us. So it was very disappointing."

This would have been the 14th Bayside trip to Mexico. Bayside's global outreach pastor, Jordanna Zumot, said during the one-week trip the group was scheduled to build six homes, plus complete 10 additional building repair projects. More than half of the participants are teenagers who pay a $500 fee.

The church is now planning an alternative trip to the Fresno and Visalia area, where they will work to help migrant workers and other people hit hard by the economic crisis.

"There are great needs in California," Clark said. "The Central Valley has a lot of need for people who would come and assist them as well."

Report originally published on

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