Rev. Espinoza, a Longtime San Fernando Minister, Dies
The Rev. Robert Espinoza, a Pentecostal minister who began preaching in homes in San Fernando in the late 1920s and went on to become an evangelist delivering sermons in 37 countries, has died. He was 88.
Espinoza died Jan. 3 at Northridge Hospital Medical Center of pneumonia, his family announced this week.
Born on June 20, 1906, in Santa Eulalia, Chihuahua, Mexico, Espinoza developed La Trinidad Church in San Fernando into the largest Spanish-language Assemblies of God church in the San Fernando Valley, with a congregation of more than 1,000.
After preaching at various San Fernando locations in the 1930s, he moved to the current location on O’Melveny Street near San Fernando Mission Boulevard, building a small church in 1948.
In 1954, having outgrown the space, he broke ground for a larger sanctuary on adjoining lots. With members of the congregation providing the labor, and buying supplies as money was raised, the Spanish Mission-style church with a distinctive four-story tower was dedicated March 17, 1962.
In the 1970s, a two-story educational building was built and the original church was remodeled into a chapel. The main sanctuary suffered severe damage in the 1994 Northridge earthquake, causing about 95% of the structure to be razed. A dedication ceremony for the rebuilt church is scheduled for March 18.
Espinoza began his missionary work in 1953 as an interpreter for evangelist T. L. Osborne, traveling to El Salvador and Guatemala. He held his own religious campaigns in 37 countries throughout Latin American and Europe, including England, France, Spain and Greece.
He continued his missionary work into his early 80s, with one of his last stops in Greece five years ago.
“A missionary in Greece called me a few days ago and told me that after the Lord Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul, no one had touched the country of Greece like my father had,” said Espinoza’s son, the Rev. David Espinoza, who has taken over as pastor of the congregation. “He was a perfect father. He was loving, compassionate and he loved his work. He loved the Lord.”
In addition to his son, Espinoza is survived by his wife, Dolores; two daughters, Esther Martinez and Josephine Perez, 11 grandchildren and 20 great-grandchildren.
A visitation will be held at 7 p.m. Friday and the funeral will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, both at the church located at 1150 O’Melveny St. in San Fernando. Interment will follow at Forest Lawn Memorial-Park in Glendale.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Robert Espinoza Memorial Building Fund, P.O. Box 949, San Fernando 91340. Proceeds will be used to complete the rebuilding of the damaged church and for future expansion.