Space for All: Vox Veniae

Every Sunday, a diverse mix of Christians converges in an old, formerly condemned building in a low-income neighborhood in Austin, Texas, to hear the good news at Vox Veniae church.

Asian, white, black, Latino. Old and young. Families and singles. Rich and poor. Artists, professionals, college students. The 200-plus members of Vox meet in the edgy, eclectic Space 12, a former nightclub.

It’s a nondenominational congregation inside a hip venue that has moved beyond labels to find common ground in Christ, but it wasn’t always that way.

Vox’s roots can be traced back 40 years to a group of Chinese immigrant college students who formed a Bible study in Austin. Decades later, Austin Chinese Church continues to cater to immigrants and has grown to hundreds of families.

Yet its leaders knew they had to better connect to the larger Austin community. In 2006, Vox Veniae (meaning “voice of forgiveness” in Latin) emerged from the Austin congregation as an independent church, led by Pastor Gideon Tsang.

Vox started as a mostly Asian American congregation of young adults, but in 2009 it moved to its current east Austin location, gaining a reputation as a church that respects the city’s motto, “Keep Austin Weird.” And while it’s common for a mostly white church to reach out to minority communities, it’s rare for a minority pastor to attract whites and other ethnicities.

“We are multiethnic, but that doesn’t define us as a church,” Tsang says. “I think there is a special culture here, and it has to do with telling God’s story in the culture of Austin.”

The Wi-Fi equipped church serves as office space to nonprofits and ministries. It also hosts yoga classes, swing dance lessons, art shows and presentations on human trafficking.

But underscoring all that activity and creativity are deep Christian traditions. The Evangelical Covenant Church offers baptisms and sings a lot of hymns, for example.

“We are a liturgical church,” Tsang says. “We are just like any other church, doing the best we can, learning how to love [Jesus], how to be loved by him, and to love our neighbors in turn.”

Jennifer Kabbany
Jennifer Kabbany

Jennifer Kabbany is a Southern California-based freelance journalist and associate editor of Her work has appeared in: WORLD and OUTREACH magazines, The Washington Times, The Weekly Standard, U-T San Diego and many other publications.