In The Beginning…
The history of the Kittredge Community Bible Church goes all the way back to the building of a larger school for the area. Justus “Gus” Roehling was contracted to build one close to the little red, one-room school house that had been used up to the summer of 1924. It was completed by 1925.
At that time in the history of Kittredge, very few homes existed, other than vacation homes. Charles Marble Kittredge, with his wife Anna, purchased 160 acres of the Martin Luther Ranch. He had great hopes for the area and a desire to settle it as a more permanent town. He applied for a post office, but the names he had selected were already in use. They suggested he just name it Kittredge. In 1920, the area officially became known as the community of Kittredge, Colorado.
As time went on, more families arrived wanting to settle in the scenic, quiet canyon along Bear Creek. Horses wandered, pets ran, kids played and the area grew.
The community had a need for spiritual guidance so the Kittredge Union Sunday School was organized on January 13, 1946. There was no church building at the time, although the hope of having one was alive. Sunday School was held at the schoolhouse. Seventeen attended. When the Sunday School superintendent, Mrs. K.R. Mead moved away, the Sunday School closed.
The Sunday School reopened on May 30, 1948 with Orville Winkelman as superintendent. All this was through the affiliation with American Sunday School Union, a national, nonsectarian, evangelical, home missionary organization.
Their objective was to establish and maintain rural Sunday Schools. Reverend Paul Eiselstein, a missionary with A.S.S.U., was responsible for the organization of the Sunday School in Kittredge. He was fondly called “Uncle Paul”. Uncle Paul was also instrumental in starting up Camp Id Ra Ha Je, which the Kittredge church has been long affiliated with.
Sunday School classes were held in the auditorium/gymnasium of the school. Folding chairs were set up and a piano in the corner provided the musical accompaniment.
The people realized in order to grow, a church building of their own was necessary, so the home of Leo Bridges was purchased in the winter of 1955. It was located on the corner of Welch Avenue and Highway 74. Today it stands to the east of the park as the Kittredge Animal Clinic.
Extensive remodeling was necessary for it to become usable as a church, but they knew they could get the job done through the strong faith and efforts of the people. On February 11, 1955, the Kittredge Union Church was officially formed.
The building was barely roughed in, but many people worked hard to get the walls and rooms completed. Their goal was to complete it in time to have Easter Service in the new chapel that year of 1955.
Reverend Richard A. Williams was the very first pastor of the Kittredge Union Church. Born in Boham, Texas in 1897, raised in Oklahoma, Williams moved to Denver in 1917 and attended the Denver Bible Institute. He graduated from there in 1936.
After serving as pastor at the Rocky Mountain Baptist Churches at Shaffers Crossing, Conifer and Ft. Collins, he joined the American Sunday School Union bringing him eventually to Kittredge. The first worship service was at 11 AM on April 10, 1955. The dedication of the new church was held at 2:30 that afternoon.
Pastor Williams retired from ministry years later, and finished his years at the Arkansas Manor Nursing Home.
Orville R. Hagans, then president of the Kittredge Civic Association, attended that first service with a special welcome for the new church into the community.
The new sanctuary was bright and fresh with chairs for the congregation. The pine pulpit stood up front with the choir seated behind the pastor. Lighted candles lined the altar table that Easter Sunday with a large Easter lily next to the open Bible.
The Aurora Christian Church Choir sang for the near capacity congregation. “Uncle Paul” had an unfortunate run in with a power saw out at Camp Id Ra Ha Je, so he was unable to attend.
Pastor Williams retired from ministry years later, and finished his years at the Arkansas Manor Nursing Home.
Orville R. Hagans, then president of the Kittredge Civic Association, attended that first service with a special welcome for the new church into the community. The Aurora Christian Church Choir sang for the near capacity congregation. “Uncle Paul” had an unfortunate run in with a power saw out at Camp Id Ra Ha Je, so he was unable to attend.
The growing congregation was very thankful for the new church building with a real sanctuary. It was even more meaningful because they had all worked so hard to make it happen.
The first wedding held at the Kittredge Union Church was for Frances Davis and John Kenneth Fortney. They were married August 5th, 1955.
August 20th of that year brought another work day to do the finish work on the outside of the building. It was another example of how the folks around here pulled together in cooperation to complete the necessary tasks. Attendance at this time was averaging 44 people.
Dorothy Gorton, the mother of three teenagers and a full-time secretary, took her 2 weeks vacation from her job to conduct Vacation Bible School for about 100 children throughout the community and surrounding area. She saw the need and took action to provide.
That same time period was the beginning of the “Mary Martha Circle”. This group of Women met every month to have Bible studies and discuss important issues pertaining to the community. They held bazaars, bake sales, and provided food for the many church events.
The records of the church’s earliest beginnings were faithfully kept thanks to Mrs. Anna Gay MacLaughlin. She kept a scrapbook full of her carefully kept records, photographs, newspaper clippings, programs, and any other information pertaining to the church. This woman was truly dedicated to the truth in history as she meticulously filed it away for the years ahead to remember.
In January of 1959 the Mary Martha Circle decided to become sponsors of a Korean orphan through the Bethany Children’s Home in Korea, with the assistance of Compassion, Inc., a non-profit organization based in Chicago. The church possesses a scrapbook filled with the letters between the women of the group and the various orphans whom they supported. The orphans often wrote thanking them for their many gifts, many of which were very practical, but the ladies always threw in a toy too. A simple thing like a baseball thrilled the children. Their support of these orphans went on until the death of Anna Gay MacLaughlin on March 4, 1986.
Many events were planned for the teens of the church during the late fifties. A club named G.O.O.F. (God of our Father’s) held meetings with parties following. All teenagers were welcome.
The second pastor of the Kittredge Union Church was Reverend Gordon R. Thomas who began his ministry here in February of 1958.
The tenure of Pastor Gordon also brought the addition of the wooden cross that was mounted on the north side of the building near the entrance. Back lighting was added to make the cross glow at night. A tall steeple was also put on the roof with a thin cross mounted at the peak
In 1960, Vaughn E. Shepard was treasurer of the Kittredge Union Church. A friend of his told him about Stonecroft Ministries so he sent a letter to Walter Duff, the director of Village Missions which is associated with Stonecroft, requesting information on obtaining a minister to fill the pulpit because Rev. Thomas was not able to stay. The letter states that the church had about forty active members. Sunday School attendance averaged between 60 and 65.
(In 1980, Pastor Gordon had a heart attack. Doctors were able to perform by-pass surgery correcting the problem. Gordon and Ginny were even able to take a trip to Africa to speak at a missionary conference. They were able to enjoy traveling through Amsterdam, Holland, Zurich, and Switzerland.)
In December of 1960, the Reverend William Horey became pastor of the Kittredge church. It is not known how the church learned of him. He was remembered as giving very interesting sermons, but he was very loud.
Ray Cheyney Jr. Comes to Kittredge
An undated letter was sent to the church in care of Jack Milton, Chairman of the Pulpit Committee. The letter was an introduction of Rev. and Mrs. Ray Cheyney Jr. Rev. Duff states that the Cheyney’s were one of their “outstanding couples, earnest and zealous both in evangelism and also in the teaching of God’s Word.” They had been with Village Missions, a sister organization to Stonecroft Ministries, for eleven years and had consistently carried on a ministry in the Philadelphia area for seven and a half years. They had built up that church numerically, financially and spiritually. They took a leave of absence, but were now anxious to be back “in the harness” again to go where God would lead. Rev. Duff went on to highly recommend the couple with the belief that the Lord would use them mightily.
By October of 1963, Reverend Ray Cheyney Jr. became the forth pastor along with his wife Arlene and their three children. Village Missions exists to glorify Jesus Christ by developing spiritually vital churches in rural North America. Pastor Cheyney was the first VM pastor on a long list of pastors to serve Kittredge. He remained until 1971. The church decided at that point to stay with VM.
On Christmas Day, 1963, the Rocky Mountain News featured a large photo of the white church in Kittredge framed by a traditional Christmas wreath-stating that it symbolizes the many places around the world where worshipers will gather Christmas morning to celebrate the birth of the Savior.
In 1964, Wanda Schneider became the organist of the church. The organ had been won by church member Ann Keck while on the show “Queen for a Day”. No one in her family could play, so it was donated to the church. Wanda remained as the organist, choir director, and friend for over 30 years. She provided her wonderful gift of music to bless everyone who attended.
David Riefenberg Jr. spent some time in his youth learning and growing in the Lord at the Kittredge Church. He went on to help lead worship at a couple of churches during college. David also ministered in a Christian band at age 25 for a couple of years which traveled in the US, Canada and England. After that, he moved to El Paso, TX and got involved in a ministry there. He became the worship leader and youth pastor at Vineyard Christian Fellowship. He is currently the senior pastor of Vineyard Crossroads Church in which he planted that church about 9 years ago. He shares the following memories.
"I think perhaps one of my fondest memories is of Anna Gay MacLaughlin as my Sunday School teacher when I was a kid. Looking back, I am so thankful for her and how much of the Bible and the love of Christ she imparted to me and to a whole generation. She is definitely a picture of loving kindness, faithfulness, and the mercy of God. I miss her.
"I know that Wanda Schneider was also instrumental in my Christian formation. She invited me to play the piano along with her as she played the organ on the hymns during Sunday services. I know that God really used her in my life to show me that the gift of music that He gave me really does fit in to His purposes, and how to use that gift to serve Him and bring glory to Jesus. (Looking back, it seems so funny to me how nervous I used to get when I would be up there playing the piano. My knees literally would be knocking! I believe that God really taught me a lot about humility and overcoming my fears and insecurities – and I learned a lot of really cool hymns as well.)
"I remember a brief conversation I had with Pastor Ray Cheyney when I was a young man and considering a life of full time ministry. I’ll never forget what Ray said to me. “If you can do anything else in life, then do it. That’s how you know if you’re called to full time ministry.” Those words of wisdom that he spoke to me have had – and continue to have – a profound influence on my life, the direction of my life, and how I live out God’s purpose for my life.
"These are just a few thoughts – ways that my life was impacted by the people of Kittredge Community Church."
Susan Kirk Tsoupakis remembers fondly growing up as a child attending the little church. Susie and her brother David attended the Vacation Bible School. David was crowned “King of Bible School” for being the “best behaved boy in the whole school" and received a plaque as well.
Susan remembers being so upset that David had a cape and crown, that after much carrying on, she was finally able to wear the enviable award.
The only thing Susan dreaded every Sunday morning was having to go down the outside open staircase to the dark and scary outhouse. The staircase on the side of the building was open and it was terrifying to the young girl. Otherwise, she has very fond memories of the church.
One other episode David and Susan remember was when they got a bit older. David and his friend Butch knew they would have to go to church Sunday morning, so Saturday night they hid their fishing poles in the bushes. Unbeknownst to the parents, the boys headed out with instructions to go to church but instead went fishing. After a morning of not catching anything, they realized there might be a reason for the lack of fish on their lines.By 1966, during Pastor Cheyney’s time of growing the church family, the little church building was bursting at the seams for Sunday School and sanctuary space. Church service had become so crowded they felt “they were sitting on each others laps”. There was a desperate need for a new church building.
John and Shirley Myers were faithful members back then. John served on the Board, and soon joined the search committee to find a larger facility. They couldn’t find any land available for building, or land owners wouldn’t give the church the time of day in regards to a sale. So the search continued.
By 1967 the student population of the Kittredge school had drastically declined so only one teacher was required. It was decided to close the school and students were consolidated to Parmalee Elementary School in Indian Hills. When Pastor Cheyney and John heard about this, they thought maybe they could lease or buy the Kittredge school building. They went to those in charge of the disposition of the school building. The School Board preferred that the building be put to use for some sort of a community organization and thought a church would be a great use of the building.
In June, the School Board decided to sell the property. The church's bid of $6,000 was accepted. The church name became the Kittredge Community Church with the move from across the highway where it was known as the Kittredge Union Church. Funds started coming from known and unknown sources. The Cheyney’s arrived home one day to find a check in the mail for $1,000 for the building fund. All the red tape involved in borrowing $6,000 from the bank prompted Mr. Frank Mitchell to loan money to them at 5¼ % interest. Mr. Mitchell was the former custodian of the school and was thrilled to be able to help the church obtain it.
John Myers was involved in the insurance business and had the building assessed at $60,000. Ten times the sale price.
The church got the building on Halloween, but there were a lot of broken windows to contend with. John Myers had a friend in the window business. He called him up and told him they needed a bunch of glass for the new church building. The friend came down and assessed the need. It took four or five days for the glass to arrive, which came in two big cases to John’s surprise. His friend had somehow managed to obtain colored cathedral glass in gold, green and pink, that was quite expensive at that time. In the bitter cold of November 1967, a few of the faithful worked at replacing all the glass for the sanctuary with the multi colored panes of glass.
A lot of electrical work needed to be done to change the building from school to church. John had another friend who was an electrician. He was able to install expensive recessed lights for the sanctuary. His wife Shirley, loved shopping for antiques. On one shopping trip, she found some old doors from the Ocean Theater in Denver for $10 a piece.
There was enough money in the church account to purchase pews from a furniture company. The Lord continued to provide for all the needs. John remembers that there was never a surplus of funds, but always just enough. They knew that the Lord was blessing the changes by how well He took care of all the details.
When it came time to move things over from the old building to the new, the piano was a necessity for the new church. However, the piano that had been given to them to use at the original church was up on the second floor. It took just about every man in the church to haul it down the stairs and onto the back of a pickup truck. John remembers that a very short man rode in the back of the truck balancing the large upright piano. The driver headed up the road to the new church driveway but took the turn too fast. The piano went right over the side of that truck crashing into the ditch. John still remembers, “You never heard such a chord!”
The old church building on Welch Avenue and the main road was sold, providing more funds for the work that needed to be done. Many other materials, furnishings, and electrical supplies were acquired through donations and generous discounts. Exciting things were happening at the church. Four hundred dollars worth of draperies were picked up for $4.00 from a department store. Arlene Cheyney kept careful records of all these improvements in a special letter included in the scrapbook.
The church family did all the remodeling. Men would come after work every day and work as long as they could. Volunteers came to clean, build or do any other needed task.
The parsonage where the Cheyney’s lived was nothing more than a “glorified chicken coop” according to Mr. Myers. The roof was tied together inside with aviation cable stretched from one corner to the other. John Myers became the chairman of the committee to now search for a parsonage. They only had money for a down payment. Jack Milton was treasurer at the time when an unexpected donation came to them. The church held a congregational meeting in March of 1969 where all agreed to get a new parsonage from Capp Homes, a popular pre-packaged home builder of the time.
Pastor Ray and John were to go on Monday to sign the papers. John just felt that Monday wasn’t a good day to do that, and happened to be in Denver on Sunday and decided to stop in at Capp Homes. He was told that at midnight, the price was going to go up by 10 %. John had the check with him for the deal they were to do on Monday. He was able to sign the papers right then and there before the price went up. John again recalls how God knew exactly what was going on and took care of it. The old parsonage had been sold providing the down payment for the new one.
Capp delivered all the materials in May of 1969. With a Capp Home, the church could do as much of the work as they wanted. The property belonging to the church was large enough to add the home without losing needed parking space. The new home was to sit at the west end near the gulley that bordered the property. Elk, deer, and even a bear or cougar occasionally traveled through the gulley to get to the creek. The crew and trucks of lumber arrived on Friday to erect the new home, but somehow, Capp neglected to send the floor joists. Ray called John and said they needed some 2 x 12’s to get started. John called around to different lumber yards and found just enough at a store in Englewood. Capp got the bill and workers from Capp framed it up. The men of the church put the roof on. The ladies all gathered and painted the siding which was then put up by the men. John and Shirley’s son was in the plumbing business so he did all that work. It was ready for the Cheyney family to move into by August. This is the same parsonage in use today.
John is still amazed at the memory of how many people that attended the Kittredge church went on to full time ministry as far away as South America. He still remembers most of the names of those who moved on to serving the Lord all around the country and the world.
The early part of the 70’s brought changes to the community with the building of several duplexes on the east side of town. The population of the community was growing rapidly. John and Shirley Myers moved away from the area in 1972.
John & Alyce Sheeks
John Sheeks was an engineer prior to his call into ministry. He and his wife served the Lord in Kittredge from 1971 to 1972. He preached in a very straight forward manner. Dave Riefenberg Sr. remembers that he was very different from Ray Cheyney, but thought he was “quite good”. In fact, because of Pastor John’s previous occupation, it gave him a really clear view of life. He understood the working man. He knew that some of the men would have to work on Sundays. He stressed that if that is the case, and you can’t make it to church, ‘…just spend some time thinking about the Lord. If you believe, then you’re in!” He was very cut to the chase in his teaching. Dave went through a process of gradual acceptance of Christ in his life as he listened week after week to Pastor Sheeks’ teachings. The gospel just started to make sense to him. Upon that acceptance, Dave decided he wanted to be baptized. One of his sons was baptized with him at Conference Baptist Church since they had a baptismal tub. Dave will always have fond memories of the Sheeks.
Jack Canady Takes the Lead
Jack and Norma Canady pastored the church from November 1972 through 1978. They also were dearly loved by all and still hold a special place in many hearts. Pastor Jack sent in the following:
Written by Pastor Jack Canady
One day while Ray and Arlene Cheyney were ministering in Kittredge under Village Missions he picked up the phone and called me. “How would you and your family like to have a vacation in the beautiful Colorado mountains?”
“Sounds great to me! What do you have up your sleeve?”
“Nothing Jack,” he laughed. “Don’t you trust me? Really – we want you to come and we think you and the kids will really enjoy it. Our people won’t get in your way but they are excited about the idea and will do everything they can to make your time special. It WILL cost you something though.”
“What’s that,” I asked, starting to get excited?
“You will have to preach on Sunday because the preacher, namely me, will be away on his own vacation. We will turn our house over to your family. What do you think?”
“We will take it!”
That is how our family got to know the people of the Kittredge church. We had at least two vacations up there. Several families in the church made sure our family had a good time. We never dreamed we would one day be there serving as pastor and family. I will admit that in a half kidding way I once said to Ray, “If you ever leave there we get first dibs on taking your place.”
That offer did come. In reality it was more an urgent call from Reverend Walter Duff. Ray had accepted the important call to become a full time District Representative, (pastor to pastors), so the Cheyneys had been gone from the church for several years.
I will not go into the details of what happened but Reverend Duff, Chairman of Village Missions, was troubled. “Jack and Norma, the Kittredge church is traveling through a difficult time. God placed that church there and we want to help them through this problem. They know you folks. Would you pray about going there and doing it as soon as possible?”
The hearts of Reverend and Mrs. Duff were dedicated to keeping the churches of small town America open. The powers of darkness are dedicated to just the opposite. Norma and I had only been in Lenwood, California for three years. Village Missions had sent us there to start a ministry. It was a town of 3000 people and had never had a church. He had blessed. Exciting things were happening. Many were coming to Christ. We had no desire to leave, but, as we prayed, God’s Spirit made it clear that Reverend Duff’s phone call was God’s call, so we came.
Attendance at Kittredge had grown to an average of 129 for the year of 1972. Thirty six were in church the first Sunday I preached. Six were our family. The small group still there were broken and confused. Satan waits, lays his plan well - then strikes with hellish fury. “We DO NOT wrestle against flesh and blood, but against…the rulers of the darkness of this age,” (Ephesians 6:12). We do well to remember who our true enemy is.
The first year was VERY HARD! We will always be grateful for that small, loyal band of believers God led to stay during that dark “hour”. At the end of that time there was a meeting at the foot of the Cross. Many who had been scattered to the wind met at the church. We knelt together and prayed. Forgiveness and reconciliation happened. God brought beauty from ashes. Satan lost the war. During the years that followed, what he had hoped to destroy was healed and became stronger than ever before. In September of 1974 I was able to write to our congregation,
“Two years ago 36 people were in church. Last Sunday 132 were there. God has blessed and there is a GREATER future! Let’s all get involved.”
Only God can do something like that. “I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it,” (Matthew 16:18). Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, builds His church. No person on earth or power in hell will stop Him.
During the six plus years God had us minister in Kittredge our children finished growing up. Our three oldest boys graduated from high school and headed for Western Bible College. We believe God put them at that school during its “hay day” spiritually. Both Paul and Mark were married during that time. They graduated from Western. Jim later graduated from Northeastern Bible College in New Jersey. He later told me, “Dad, I rushed through college in five and a half years.” Joy would finish high school in the state of New York and attend Northeastern for awhile before marrying. Jim was just as fast at getting married as he was finishing college. He was 27 when the knot was tied.
THINGS WE REMEMBER
We remember that as our first Christmas in Kittredge was arriving, Chuck MacLaughlin drove his pick up to our house and dumped off a huge Christmas tree. Later it was a load of wood for our fireplace. He would plow the snow off the church parking lot so we could have services. It was his practice to do it and drive off quickly so there would be no embarrassing thank you’s, He was a man rough on the outside; very tender on the inside.
Anna Gay, his wife, was excellent with children and gave her all to reach them for the Savior. She was also good with a hammer, better than I. I was helping them put on metal siding one time and bending a lot of nails. She, who had no trouble at all, was teasing me about pounding nails with my left hand. “I am just as bad with either hand,” I bragged.
Chuck had a small herd of polled Herefords. At calving time, our family use to watch the cows for him while he worked as a machinist in Denver. While on his property we saw huge herds of elk. While hiking with our kids they saw their first elk calf. After seeing it we got out of there. We did not want the mama to challenge us.
I remember hunting at timberline with Ron Powell up on top of the world opening the New Testament and having devotions together. Of course we had to walk to get there, probably at least 12 miles up mountain trails. The walk was no problem for Ron but it nearly killed me. One time we borrowed a couple of packhorses from Camp Id Ra Ha Je. I was to ride Oscar back down the mountain but he went lame; limped all the way. By the time I got down I was limping. When I apologized to the Director Bob Cortheius, he laughed. “Look at him,” he said. That horse was kicking his heels and prancing all over the pasture. “He does that all the time. He just didn’t want to carry you.”
Wanda and Eric Schneider are two other people who bring back special memories. Wanda, whose passion is music, did amazing things with our choir. One evening our son Jim, whose voice had not changed, decided to make a change. The sound was terrible. I tried to stop him but he just shook his head and kept on going. Finally she asked, “What is going on back there?”
I replied, “My son THINKS he is singing tenor.”
Every so often, during the worship service, I would hear Wanda playing very loud on the organ. That was her signal that I was messing up.
Eric did not attend a lot but he was a very good friend. Our son Mark worked for him one summer. During those months he helped turn Mark into a man by challenging him to step up to the plate when others pushed him around. At the end of the summer he entered high school at Evergreen. Two boys who had gotten there the year before and had pushed him around in middle school were waiting for him.
They stood in his way as he tried to enter a classroom. “What are you trying to do Canady?” they challenged. “I am going into this classroom – either over you or through you,” was his reply. To his disappointment they parted like the Red Sea.
Eric also proved I was not the man he was when one day he offered, “Hey Preacher, I will pay the whole tab if you will go up in a plane with me and parachute out.” His grin was broad as he waited for my answer. “Nothing doing, wise guy. If I ever jump it will be because I have to.” He slapped his knees and laughed before walking away.
We are thankful to the Riefenbergs for teaching our kids to ski. We didn’t have the money. They were on the ski patrol and took them with them many times.
Early morning Bible studies with men were a special delight to me. That is how Russ VanDuyn and I got to know each other well. I remember visiting his machine shop several times and being amazed at the new technology. He and Mary are people who walk with God.
Another man I had an early morning Bible study with was Dr. John Moyer. His wife Margaret had come to know Christ. He did too after several months of meeting together.
I used to brown bag it for lunch with Paul Kurtz in his executive office at Mercy Hospital. Then God called him to work with the Billy Graham Association.
Jim Anderson was another man led out of a successful business career to be the business manager of Dallas Seminary. One summer after that he and his family visited us. Our boys were teenagers by then. Their daughters caught their eye. When they left Paul remarked, “Mom, when God made those girls He did not make one mistake.”
After leading Gayle Dixon to Christ I dug postholes with Dick in order to get close to him. Bible studies and questions came later. The wonderful day came when he too trusted Christ. Shortly after that he helped a bunch of pastors and I set up a plan for what I think we called Family Conference up at Id Ra Ha Je. It was at that conference that the beautiful girl, who became our son Paul’s wife, trusted Jesus as her Savior.
They now serve in Maryland as Village Missionaries. Their oldest daughter Jenny Lynn and her husband Chad are Village Missionaries in New York. Our second son Mark and his wife Bonnie are VMs in Oregon.
Years later God took Dick and Gayle to New Guinea. While there a whole tribe came to faith in Christ.
One time, while our family was at Kittredge, a trick I was playing on Norma backfired on me. I put ridiculous looking clothes on my back hoping to get a reaction from her. She left for VBS before she got to see it. I forgot what I had put on. A few minutes later I was proudly standing on the platform making announcements, when Norma raised her hand. When I acknowledge her she said, “I just want to let you all know that I am not responsible for what my husband is wearing this morning.”
Another time during a Christmas play practice with the young people, she threw the script in the air and went home crying because she could not get the kids to settle down. Shortly thereafter they sent a delegation to the house. “Mrs. Canady – Mrs. Norma – Mrs. Mom (Paul) – Please come back. We promise to behave. She did and they did and the play went off without a hitch.
Back then and to this day the Kittredge church and Camp Id Ra Ha Je have always had a close relationship. Norma and I have worked there many times. We had the privilege of knowing Uncle Paul before he retired. I loved to work at Tee Pee camp. The water fights come to mind, especially when John Obrecht would drive up with the fire truck and spray all the campers. That is probably illegal today.
I remember the afternoon when I was leading worship during a Family Conference. I had just returned from preaching at our church and forgot that I was wearing the forbidden tie. Suddenly I saw John Obrecht and two cohorts walking down the aisle with huge scissors in John’s hand. That was the end of the tie, at least the bottom part of it. Norma had just bought it. It was the most expensive one I had ever had.
We had been ministering in Kittredge for more than six years. Our children had almost finished growing up there. Joy and Jim were still in high school but Paul and Mark were both attending Western Bible College. By this time Paul had married Mary Lou and was in the process of adopting her little daughter Jenny Lynn.
When Paul was a junior, a struggling church in Plum Creek, a few miles south of Littleton, Colorado, asked him for help. It was a beautiful brick church setting on five acres of land. But only about 15 people were left and it looked like they would soon close their doors. Though he could only minister on the weekends, they invited him and he said yes. As Paul and Mary Lou stepped into their new and exciting ministry something was happening with us as we served in the mountains above Denver.
Though Norma and I did not completely understand, God's Spirit seemed to indicate that what God had brought us to Kittredge to do was done. I spent almost a year in turmoil over this. Kittredge had become our home. Many of our friends there we had led to Christ. It would not be easy to leave. On top of that, my question was, "Is this really God speaking or my restless nature seeking a new challenge?"
I asked Norma for some time apart to pray about our confusing situation. At that same time Norma decided to visit the church where her son was preaching. After the service that morning Paul showed her around the area. "Mom," he said, "Look at all the homes being built here. I can't begin to reach them. I am far too busy with school and my other job. You know, if you and Dad were not in Kittredge, this would be just the field for the two of you. If it ever worked out I would be glad to step back and let you have it."
When she got back up the mountain I said, "Honey, I don't understand this and I don't know where we are going next, but God has finally made it clear to me that we are to turn Kittredge over to someone else."
"That is very interesting," Norma answered, "Let me tell you what our son just said."
So, with Reverend Duff's blessing, we packed our belongings, rented a house in Littleton and made our move. That was December of 1977. In our moves, one of the first things we get unpacked and set up, are the beds. That was Mom's suggestion long ago, so I thought I was at the head of the class.
Suddenly, in the middle of all our busyness, Norma burst into tears. "Honey," I exclaimed, "I do not have the slightest idea what is going on right now. You know I do not take hints well and I can't read your mind. You HAVE TO let me know what is wrong."
"It's two weeks before Christmas!" she cried. "And you are moving me from one house to another and I do not have a single Christmas decoration up!"
The light went on. "Before we go to bed tonight Sweetheart, your tree is going to be up and decorated - and most of the other decorations are going to be in place." Everybody headed for the Christmas boxes. Paul and Mark bought a tree. Two hours later boxes were everywhere but our house looked like Christmas and Mom was happy.
There was a lot to be done at Plum Creek. We were once again starting with a handful of discouraged people and the potential to reach hundreds for Christ.
As missionaries we were in our element. We fully expected to be there for many years.
Ten months later, October of 1978, Norma and I were packing again; this time to head for the east coast. Paul was a senior. He and Mary Lou had applied to serve under Village Missions.
We had received a surprise call from Reverend Walter Duff urging me to become the Mission's District Representative for the east coast. Again, it was not an easy decision. We spent a week praying and talking. Our plan had been to stay in Plum Creek for perhaps a decade. God's plan was for us to become District Representatives for the next 11 years, before He called me to become the leader of Village Missions.
If we were not going to stay at Plum Creek, the people wanted Paul. Though he had not yet graduated, Reverend Duff accepted him into the mission and assigned him to Plum Creek.
The happy, fun, important memories of our days at Kittredge go on and on as does what God is doing right now. He is not finished there. He has just begun.
(There was a time while Pastor Jack was away and Denver Seminary student Joe Kirby came to get something out of the church. Norma didn’t have a key so Joe checked for an open window on the church. When he found one out back, he got a ladder and found his way inside. Little did Joe know at the time, that he would eventually become pastor of the church. A neighbor that lived kiddy-corner behind the church, Dick Sittner, gave Joe a hard time about breaking into the church for many years.)
Pastor Ed Hillard
Ed and Sue Hillard ministered here from 1978 to 1980. Looking back, Pastor Ed remembers Kittredge fondly.
“One of the great joys of serving at the Kittredge Church was the fireside room. The times there spent in fellowship, Bible Study – deep discussion and earnest prayer touched my life as well as others deeply with the Spirit of God. Much of the time – those in attendance would choose to kneel in humility before the Lord. It was with great assurance that we knew God was pleasingly present, listening, and answered every prayer in His own way and according to His will. Some years later, I received a letter from Paul Welton, now in heaven, thanking me for teaching him how to pray. It was the Holy Spirit that taught him.”
The fireside room was a cozy area in the middle section of the church up the stairs from the sanctuary where many gatherings were held. The walls had dark rough cedar paneling and an old wood burning stove in the corner to give it even more character and warmth. That area was remodeled in the 90’s when the need for updating bathrooms and more Sunday School space was a necessity.
Mike and Jan Shields
Mike Shields became the seventh pastor of the Kittredge Community Church. They share the following memories.
"Kittredge Community Church holds great memories for us. We are very thankful for the church and the experiences we had while there.
"It was at Kittredge that we got invaluable mentoring from Pastor Jack and Norma Canady. We were attending Bible College in Morrison at the time (1972-1976), and had many opportunities to learn the practical side of ministry. I, Mike, even served on the Church Board for several years and was the Chairman of the Board for one year. During these special years of involvement at Kittredge our youngest son, Wade, was born (trips from Willow Springs Ranch at Morrison to Kittredge was a truly sickly experience for Jan while she was pregnant). Our oldest son, Michael, was about four years old when we started attending at Kittredge. He was one of several rascals at that time, others being sons and daughters of the Canady’s and of course board members. During these early years Jan and I taught the High School Sunday School Class, led the teen youth group, and had a very special adult home Bible Study. We received the necessary education at Western Bible College, but we received the education that really prepared us for work with Village Missions at Kittredge Community Church. During the summer of 1976, after graduation from WBC we moved and began pastoral ministry.
"Then the unlikely happened. We were asked, and we gladly accepted, to return to Kittredge as the Village Missionaries. Our first day as Village Missionary Pastor and family was June 9, 1980. By the end of that first week we had a Christian Education Board Meeting, a regular Church Board meeting, and a VBS planning meeting. It would not be possible to adequately mention all the people so dear to us during four years of ministry. We celebrated the Church’s 35th Anniversary April 5, 1981 with about 90 folks taking part in the worship and afternoon reception. Summer Daily Vacation Bible School for children was always a highlight; Girls Pioneer Clubs and Boys Brigade left many memories; Camp Id Ra Ha Je summer camps and the Intermountain Bible Conference or Family Camp on Labor Day were activities that everyone enjoyed. It was during these years that we let go of some of God’s dearest saints as they went to heaven. It was also during these years that we were blessed to be part of several weddings for our young people that we had watched grow up. We truly cherish the great memories and the wonderful relationships that came out of our years with the church and community. The grace of God produced fruit for eternity of which we are privileged to have had a small part.
"We rejoice with you now as you again celebrate. We commend the current church family for your faithfulness to our great God and Savior. “Little is much when God is in it,” and you will only know the full scope of the great things God has done at Kittredge when you are gathered with all the saints in the presence of Christ.
"The words of Jesus to the church at Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) seem fitting for Kittredge Community Church. May the Lord bless you. “I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, in order that no one take your crown” (Rev. 3:11).
In Christ’s Love, Mike and Jan Shields
Story of Grace
Norm and Marsha Covey’s daughter was killed in a car wreck on December 10, 1980. She was driving alone to her first day at a new job. She had landed a job as a graphic artist for a company in Idaho Springs. The morning sun was straight ahead in her eyes and she hit a JeffCo road grader parked on the wrong side of Kittredge Park Road just above KCBC. Her parents were told that her stopped heart was restarted several times on the way to St Anthony’s Hospital where they finally realized continued attempts to save her life were hopeless.
Today, the Covey’s could name maybe fifteen other families that have lost their youngsters. They were the first that they knew of back then. Good friends drove them home from the hospital. It was amazing to them that on the day of her death the world did not stop – or go on hold. Traffic continued, stop lights worked and people continued to go and come in their usual manner. In the late afternoon, they noticed the most beautiful mountain sunset seen in years. They saw gorgeous clouds that were black and puffy white with rays of the sun radiating to earth. That night, in a clear sky, there was a full moon with a haze ring around it - signs of things to come.
Leslie had led an unusual life. She was a wonderful little girl until Jr. High when she discovered pot. Then, following in Norm’s shoes, she decided that being addicted to a troublesome life was the way to go. No one drank alcohol in the house at the time and they certainly outlawed pot. Rather than forego her desire for drugs, at the tender of age of 13, she set out on her own. She snuck back in the house a few times to fill out her travelin’ wardrobe and took a Colt .38 Special. We discovered that she was living here and there and was peddling drugs for parents of some of her “friends.” Actually, they are grateful even now that they don’t really know where she went or what she did.
After about 3 years of this great fear, agony and worry for the parents, and danger for her, she showed up sitting on the curb in front of the bank in downtown Evergreen where Marsha worked. This event was the
beginning of the obvious work of the Lord in all their lives. Marsha had pursued a serious night of prayer saying, “I return Leslie to you, Lord. I have no idea what to do with her.” The sheriff was called as there was a warrant out for her arrest. As she was put into the police car, she said “I love you.” to Marsha and began recovery from her addiction. She often said she knew home was safe, “no drugs allowed.” They found the Palmer Drug Abuse Program (PDAP) in Denver and worked to get a chapter installed in Evergreen. Eventually nearly 100 kids were involved and Leslie and others got sober – certainly with the Lord’s help, working incognito.
Through friends in PDAP, Leslie discovered Jesus and welcomed Him into her life. Norm and Marsha were pleased that Leslie had kicked the dope problem, but kind of hoped she would get over the Jesus thing. They understood that God was in control, but were not really into the church and Jesus. They thought it was sort of embarrassing. The bottom line, though, was they had their “sweetie pie” back. She was a young lady. She picked up school again at Warren Tech working to become a commercial artist. She also attended church in Denver regularly. And then she left for work on December 10th.
Shortly after the funeral, as the support of friends reached its practical limit, Mike Shields, the Pastor of the KCC, showed up at the Covey’s door, offering to help. He gave them information, answered questions, encouraged them with private Bible studies and invited them to join others at the church. Through this, Marsha had two questions. Is there really a heaven? Is Leslie there? And, secondly, is the Bible really the word of God? Marsha’s prayers were answered by two dramatic revelations that she loves to talk about if asked. Marsha welcomed Jesus into her life.
Years before, Norm’s drinking had been cured through the grace of God, through prayer and His forgiveness. Consequently, the initial perception of Jesus was to question if a belief in Jesus would be viewed by God as betrayal. Again, prayer settled the issue. Belief and acceptance of Jesus with Norm just sort of settled in.
Time has allowed Marsha and Norm to see God’s power in events preceding Leslie’s death. The Lord brought a huge change in Leslie. After Leslie’s troublesome past, Marsha often thought, “Leslie looks like an angel – so beautiful and so at peace with the world.” Leslie also had received messages. The day before the accident, she had taken an afternoon nap that ended with a very bad dream. She called her Mom to tell her that, in her dream, she had hit something really big in the road. The day of her accident, she had made her bed (unusual) and placed a note to Jesus on the bed – thanking Him for his forgiveness and His unconditional love. She stated in the note, “I have sinned so much in the past and you have forgiven me – please help me to be the most beautiful creature I can be in your love.”
Having Leslie in their life has caused the Covey’s to deeply appreciate a few issues. The story with Leslie started on the days we were born, has proceeded according to His plan and will continue. Apparently disconnected events are related in an intelligent fashion. The Lord has a GRAND patient plan that proceeds inexorably. To the extent the Lord wills ones involvement with Him, so be it. It’ll be done. Earned benefit is irrelevant.
Norm said, “We are grateful that the Lord chose Leslie to play such an important place in our lives and in His plan. It will be great to see her again.”
One last note: on the night of her funeral someone had put a small candle on Leslie’s Grave. Ron Lewis called in the morning to tell us the candle burned all night. Nothing extinguished the flame.
Norm and Marsha have been a blessing to the Kittredge Community Church for a lot of years. Marsha spent a lot of years teaching Sunday School, even when there was only one student in her class, she faithfully taught the Word of God and loved the kids she taught. Norm has served as a Board member at a couple of different times and is always willing to lend a hand or the right tool for the job. They are both a blessing to the KCC.
Pastor Joe Led to Kittredge
1984 – 1991
Marcia remembers a time when a deal was made that if the kids got more of their friends to attend Sunday School then Pastor Joe would eat his lunch on the roof. This was not the easiest bargaining idea since Pastor Joe does not like heights. The kids brought lots of their friends, so up Pastor Joe went with his bagged lunch. Folks thought he looked like the Fiddler on the Roof. Well, maybe the preacher on the roof.
Pastor Joe shares the following as another of his favorite memories of Kittredge.
"As Marcia and I look back at our service as Village Missionaries, we both agree that Kittredge was our most enjoyable time of service to the Lord. We have many fond memories especially of the many friends we have there. One of my favorite memories was the time I baptized Bill Huston. Let me give a brief explanation.
"Bill and his wife Pat ran an office supply store in Evergreen. Shortly after we arrived to serve in Kittredge, I went into their store and immediately struck up a conversation with the proprietor, Bill. In the following months I would stop in and talk to Bill about office supplies and the Lord! I remember one time I needed a file cabinet and went in to see Bill. I bought the cabinet and also invited Bill and Pat to church. Well, they came. Bill and Pat placed their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ the following winter. Immediately Bill wanted to be baptized, and I said GREAT, Let’s do it.
Then Bill really surprised me when he said, “I want to be baptized in Bear Creek!” Well, I said, we will have to wait until summer. Bill responded, “Let’s do it now in January.” As you can guess, me being the adventurous type said, OK. Soon we were kicking the ice away from a fairly deep hole in Bear Creek. It was cold! We got a big enough clearing to go in. The water was flowing fairly fast, so when I put Bill under, we had to baptize his upper half first, then the lower half! What a glorious afternoon that was. One I will never forget, and I’m sure Bill won’t either!”
Bill and his wife Pat played Santa at many local events including the church adult Christmas party.
Many special things happened during their ministry here. Many people were led to the Lord under their love and teachings. VBS carnivals drew large crowds to our parking lot with games, prizes, fun and the gospel. It was great fun! Several Easter Egg Hunts with a gospel presentation were held in the town park by the church family.
There were also home Bible Studies, the infamous “Burger Burns” since Joe grilled to a burnt semblance of a burger, pot lucks, Billy Graham Movie Nights. The Sunshine Club for kids was hugely popular. Community involvement included Pastor Joe serving on the civic association board along with a few other members of the church.
More remodeling projects were done like the closing off of the stair well that used to be on the back wall of the kitchen, then the east wall of the “wood room” next to the kitchen was removed to open up the area and make one large room for more fellowship space and much more.
A group of women at that time, used to take their sewing machines with and travel down to Morrison to the Bear Creek Nursing Home. They set up in a large room and did the mending that the residents needed. It was a special time of fellowship and serving the elderly at the same time
Charles (Chuck) MacLaughlin
One active member of the Kittredge Community Church for many years was Chuck MacLaughlin. It took Chuck a few years to get right with the Lord, but his care and concern for the church was strong and grew. He spent many years as the Board secretary keeping the same meticulous records that his wife kept. He sang in the choir for many years with his dry sarcasm coming from the back corner of the men’s section. Chuck held on to all the history that his wife kept with boxes of bulletins, photos, scrapbooks, and all the little details that few would remember. But Chuck knew them all.
Chuck spent his life as a machinist with great knowledge in many areas. His collection of tools and machinery provided a lot of help for the church. He groused a bit, but was always there with a helping hand and lots of advice.
He became a very dear friend to many until his death on December 7, 1997. A dear friend of his, Margo Hamilton, wrote in the Senior Spotlight section of the Conifer Connection at his passing, “You were devoted to being disagreeable on the outside, but you sure were dedicated to being an ol’ softy on the inside.” It couldn’t be said better.
You had to take the time to get to know that “softy”, and then you couldn’t help but love him.
Chuck saw to it every single Mother’s Day that several bouquets of flowers were placed up on the altar in memory of his beloved Anna Gay whose birthday was August 14. His granddaughters, Shelly and Becky, would then carry them down the aisle giving a flower to every lady in the congregation. It was always a special, meaningful gift.
It just made sense!
In 1987, a little girl named Trisha heard all about Sunday School classes at her elementary school from all her new friends. She came home begging that she be able to go to Sunday School like her friends.
Her parents were quite alarmed by this request since they weren’t church goers and weren’t really ready to pursue that aspect of life, but their daughter was adamant, stubborn, and persistent, as always.
Ron and Sandy came up with a plan. “There’s a church right here in town, let’s just drop her off and pick her up afterward.” Sandy called the phone number for the Kittredge Church to find out what time the class started for 7 year olds. Sunday morning came, Trish got dressed in church appropriate clothes, and the three drove across the canyon to the church.
A deep breath was drawn in by the parents, as the little girl skipped along excitedly about to attend her first Sunday School class, and they walked in the door. Marcia Kirby, Russ Van Duyn, and Pastor Joe stood just inside.
It was stated that the little girl was here for Sunday School. Marcia immediately went to Trish and introduced herself leading her to the classroom. Trish followed along happily with a huge smile that couldn’t be removed. Russ reached out and shook the parent’s hands as introductions were made. It always felt that the church never let go of their hands as they welcomed them in and loved them regardless of their secret plan to escape right away.
As the weeks went on, attendance was regular, mostly at the insistence of that little girl. The true gospel message was always preached. Ron had a Catholic background, Sandy had a Lutheran background. But the messages here at Kittredge were different. They stressed the Truth of the Bible. They penetrated their hearts at a gradual pace which just led them to the conclusion that it all just made sense. Prayers for salvation were said in the quietness of the hearts melding them into the family of God as if it were the most natural thing in the world.
Much anxiety developed on the first communion Sunday. Just the sight of the communion table up front struck fear in Sandy’s heart. Her background told her that one could not take communion without having attended confirmation classes and getting confirmed.
In her high school years, a pastor of the church wouldn’t allow her to join the confirmation classes that were already in progress. He kept telling her that it was too late, that she would have to make up too much work. Sandy’s family had just moved into the town and she pleaded with him that her new friends were willing to help her catch up. He still wouldn’t let her join. At that point in her eyes, it was a major rejection from God. The maker of the universe didn’t want her. The hurt was deep and dark.
She sat there through the first part of the service as Pastor Joe spoke, worrying greatly about what she would do when the communion time came. “Maybe I should sneak out. I could have to leave suddenly or something.” She searched for any excuse to run, but her feet felt like they were glued to the floor. Pastor Joe finished his sermon, stepped down to the communion table and began to speak. Sandy’s heart rate increased to an abnormal pace. He told how at the Kittredge Community Church, anyone who has accepted Jesus in to their heart was welcome to participate in communion. He went on to say that no matter what your background is, no matter if you took special classes, none of that mattered at the KCC. It only matters if you know Jesus as your Savior.
It was like the sun came out for the first time! Sandy’s heart lightened, relief washed over her as she realized that she had the privilege of partaking in communion now because she HAD accepted Christ. She HAD invited Him into her heart. It didn’t matter that she hadn’t been allowed to attend those classes. The Son showed her the truth. And there was no turning back. Ron also had accepted the Lord by then. Trisha later came to know Christ at Camp Id Ra Ha Je where she developed a deeper understanding of her faith. The entire family got baptized together at the Bergen Park Church baptismal tub along with a few other members of the church family.
The Grant family occasionally attended Kittredge Church during the Kirby's ministry. Wife Jan had come to know Jesus, but her husband, Phil, was a bit harder to reach. Through time and love of the people and the Kirby’s ministering, Phil’s heart softened and he humbly accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. Recognizing how important this was in his life, he wanted to give back to the church in some way. Being a carpenter, he designed and built the railings with the crosses of different woods to adorn the front of our sanctuary. They were a beautiful and meaningful addition to the church as a symbol of how God can reach the hardest heart.
Many of the people that have been a part of the Kittredge Church family have gone on to do Christian work around the world. That has always been an exciting part of the church’s history. It is an extensive list showing how God has used the Kittredge church as a starting point for many, including Bob and Barb Ruesch. Barb attended the Kittredge church for many years raising her three boys here. Her work in the church was immeasurable. Then the day came when a high school sweetheart came back into her life and they were married blending the two families. Eventually Bob and Barb went on the road with a large RV providing graphic arts assistance to churches, Christian camps and organizations around the country.
The Baker Family
After Pastor Joe and Marcia were called by the Lord to move on to a church in Ridgeway, Colorado, Pastor Jim Baker, Teresa and their four children were here from October 1991 to May 1992. They weren’t here for long before the Lord moved them on to a new season in life.
Africa Brings a Pastor to Kittredge
The need to find a new pastor became a challenge. Village Missions didn’t have anyone to come to Kittredge at that time. The Kittredge Church knew Lovejoy Tirivepi from friends at Colorado Christian University. He was from Zimbabwe and in the states for more education. The Kittredge Church asked him to step in as an interim pastor while VM searched for a new one to come to Kittredge. The parsonage was empty, and they had no where to stay after finishing school. It was an ideal situation. After just a couple Sundays, people were whispering to one another, “Can’t we keep him?”
So the Board looked into it, sought out information from VM on how to get Lovejoy to join and then asked if Lovejoy was willing. It was the first time in VM’s history that a pastor came in from the back way by having a church first and then becoming a VM missionary. He had a successful ministry here growing to two services, a radio program on 56 KLZ called “Identity in Christ”, and his all important ministry to Africa called Grace Fellowship Africa.
During the Kirby’s ministry, talks started on adding Bible to the name of the church so that people would know what kind of church it was, but that wasn’t to happen yet. During the Tirivepi’s ministry that name change was done and the church officially became known as the Kittredge Community Bible Church or the KCBC.
The old cathedral windows had become too dark for many and they weren’t efficient for the high heating bill, and the opportunity arose to replace them. The men in the church got together again to install them making the sanctuary brighter and more up to date.
Another favorite memory of many people was the time that Pastor Joe came back and with Pastor Lovejoy did the most hilarious scene ever to be performed at the KCBC. Joe Kirby writes as to how it all came about with the help of a popular song during those years:
"Jack Canady asked Lovejoy and I to do a skit for the annual VM conference. We got the audio tape of the song “Pharoah, Pharoah” from Sally Johnson, VM’er at the Chapel in the Hills. As Lovejoy and I talked about it, we were talking about rhythm. He had some and I didn't have any. So I said why don't you paint yourself white and I will paint up black? The rest is history. Sally gave us the Biblical garb and off we went. It brought down the house that July at the VM annual conference in Estes Park. We were at the YMCA camp. Later we did it at Kittredge and at the 50th Anniversary of VM in Estes Park again. After that Lovejoy and I hung up our Israeli suits.
"I remember our entry that first time....we came into the auditorium from the back, both of us were very hyped up, and we ran helter skelter throughout the place, sitting on people’s laps, messing up hair, yelling and just going nuts. We finally got to the platform and went into our Pharaoh, Pharaoh act, Lovejoy as the white guy was right on with the moves to the music....I, as the black guy was very klutzy all over the platform. It was fun; I'll never forget that moment....was it spiritual? Well, I hope the Lord was laughing."
The Ullrich’s Arrive
When Pastor Lovejoy was called by the Lord to return to Africa, the search was on again for a new pastor. The Board received resumes of several men interested in the position, but they were not associated with VM. Much discussion was involved as to whether to remain affiliated with VM, but most on the Board felt strongly that needed to. Bob Ruesch, a faithful member of the church family, heard about Mike and Bonita when he was working with the Regional Director for Village Missions at Estes Park during their annual conference. Bob was working closely with the VM get-together.
Lovejoy was there for the last time and Mike's name came up. Bob asked the R.D. if he could act on his behalf to talk to Mike and coordinate the initial interview with the KCBC board. He said yes. Before Bob talked to Mike, he talked to Lovejoy at lunch and said, "Lovejoy, two words, Mike Ullrich." Lovejoy looked excited and said, "Does he want to move? If he does, he would be a good choice.”
After talking to Mike, then Ron, a Board member, Bob and his wife Barb arranged a meeting with the entire Board at the Cracker Barrel north of Denver since the Ullrich’s were heading back to South Dakota. When they walked in to the restaurant, Ron was standing (tall as usual) across the gift shop and saw Bob with the Ullrich’s. Mike recognized this was a board member and went to the nervous side of scared. Bob turned to Mike, flashed his hands in front of his face, walking backwards and said, "Show time!" Mike laughed and by then they were beside Ron and the ice was starting to melt.
As the Ullrich’s ministry got under way, many events were held to reach out to the community. The town park was a gathering place for the entire area so Sunrise Easter services were held, concerts were given, and some members helped at the civic association’s Canyon Fest.
Several concerts were held in the church sanctuary with an open invitation to the entire community. Everyone from The Chosen Ones, Gary Randall, Kilyn Roth, Sherri Farmer, and many others.
As history shows, the church family has always drawn together as a team to bring about events, keep the building clean and operating, and help when certain disasters came up like a few flooding episodes.
On occasion, the weather turned bitterly cold which led to bursting pipes when things thawed. Pastor Mike was usually the one to find the resulting flood. He would make a call and soon a swarm of folks armed with wet vacs would come charging in and set to work. Pews would have to be emptied and carried out to the parking lot, decorations set up high, hymnals rescued from the sopping wet floor. Although a heartbreaking sight, everyone always worked hard to fix the problem.
The church has struggled financially, but the Lord always provides exactly what is needed. When the church remains faithful and dependent on the Lord, He honors it every time.
Work days always send faithful members to get the job done, no matter what it is.
Annual church picnics have always been a hit. The church family has gathered at homes like the Riefenberg’s, or parks in Evergreen. One year a large BBQ trailer was hauled up and burgers and brats were grilled for all who attended. Games were played and everyone had a great time. The last several years, the Covey’s have blessed us by opening their home and property to the church and the best BBQ ribs and chicken are prepared by Norm. Side dishes and salads are brought by everyone else. The day is filled with fun, fellowship and amazing food.
Marian Fisher loved the Kittredge church when she was able to attend. Her son Dave brought her and she sat in the back by the door in her wheelchair, always thrilled to be there. She was grateful for the blessings she received while attending and she loved the contact that continued after her move to Oregon. She prayed for Pastor Mike, his family and our church often after the move. She was able to enjoy one of our Thanksgiving dinners before leaving and that was very special to her.
Marian was 98 when she went home to be with her Lord in February of 2006. Her son relates that she never got angry, she was content in all things, she forgave everyone who offender her with a loving spirit and she loved God with all her heart. Jesus was her King, Hero, and Mentor in life. She was a prayer warrior. When she couldn’t sleep, she was in constant prayer for her family and friends. She is remembered by Pastor Mike as the strongest weakest person he’d ever met. Her many years left her with little ability to move around on her own or care for herself, but her prayers continued. Her love continued.
The Lord continues to provide for the KCBC. When the upstairs windows needed replacing from drafty problems, lack of light and wearing out, Pastor Mike found out about an organization that helps churches with fix ups. With matching funds coming from the congregation, the work began. The windows upstairs have been dedicated to the memories of Julie “Bug” Einspahr, Leslie Covey, and Rick Van Duyn.
The music ministry has been blessed over the years with various leaders and participants like Wanda Schneider, Marilyn Purdy, Don Williams, Skip Downey, Doug Whaley, Debbie Farinholt, Abe and Donna Jack, Howard Lieber, and many that joined in to lead the singing.
The youth ministry has also seen a lot of great things and great people to help. In more recent years Gabe and Cindy Gurley, Keith and Tina Cater, Josh and Christy Doneff, Sean (Twitch) Collins, and Drew Travis.
Kids Club has been a rousing success bringing the younger kids together for a time of learning about Jesus, in a fun way. Playing games that teach them Bible principles for everyday life and hands on projects that reinforce the lessons. Bonita works with this age group and has a lot of fun planning and implementing it all.
The annual Valentine’s Dinner has become a huge hit especially when the Einspahr’s plan the show. One of the highest attended events in recent years, dinner is always wonderful, whether catered or the men cook for the ladies. The music is always great, often presented by our church family like Abe and Donna Jack, Howard Lieber, or a special guest comes in like Sherri Farmer. Then the show begins and laughter fills the air.
The women’s ministry has held many favorite events like the annual ornament exchange where they all joke about how that allows their “hair to be let down” when the taking of someone’s ornament gets crazy. Many special dinners have been held. High Tea with the true British influence from Hillary Tirivepi often blessed the ladies. Each year two retreats are well attended building strong relationships for the sisters in Christ.
The Men’s Ministry does a lot to help where and when it is needed. They have taken down trees for the elderly couples that need help around their home. They help with home repairs for those that need assistance. They continue to meet every Saturday morning for breakfast, fellowship and prayer.
Over the years there have been several newsletters that provided monthly information to the church body. One was named the Steeple Belle. Later came The Encourager.
Annual events that have been held over many, many years include the New Year’s Eve skating party followed by soups and stews back at the church, Easter Breakfast, Sunrise Services in the park, Easter Egg Hunts, Mother’s Day luncheons, summer camp outs, Vacation Bible School carnivals, concerts, festivals to raise money for Evergreen Christian Outreach, alternative Halloween parties, Thanksgiving Lovefeast, Ladies Ornament Exchange, Christmas Eve Candlelight Services, going away parties, anniversary parties and more. Bob Ruesch always called the Kittredge Church “the eat-inest church west of the Mississippi”!
One other important aspect is the church’s support of missions and outreach to the community. The ministry to the residents at the Life Care Center of Evergreen headed up by Mike and Linda Waldvogle and volunteers, blesses the older folks there with a church service and music. The long list over the years includes Village Missions, Trans World Radio, Evergreen Christian Outreach, Camp Id Ra Ha Je, Grace Fellowship Africa, Team Missions, Mountain Area Alternative and more.
The following is a letter from Pastor Mike Ullrich:
KCBC's motto is, "Where we seek to know Christ and to make Him known." The Apostle Paul wrote, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death..." (Phil. 3:10).
How do we get to know Christ better? The Bible is God's revelation to all humanity. KCBC has historically stood firm on God's Word. When attending Kittredge Church listen for the flutter of Bible pages turning during the sermon, Sunday School, Youth Group, Children's Ministry, and Bible studies. KCBC is all about learning and growing in God's Word. It has been our privilege to teach The Book to Jesus' flock! Because we stick to the Word of God, we believe that God will provide and bless.
KCBC has also made it possible for us personally to be involved in the great ministry of Camp Id Ra Ha Je. Each year, our week serving as pastor to one of their camps affords the blessing of seeing many children hear about, come to Christ, and grow in
Him. Bonita and I are very grateful for KCBC encouraging us to take part in that ministry.
60 years: What a legacy! So many in heaven because of this ministry and so many servants of Christ from among our numbers. The doors of KCBC
will remain open, inviting people to hear the Word and to trust in Christ until all have heard or God calls His Church home.
Blessings in Christ,
Michael and Bonita Ullrich and Family
PS - See you in Church
That brings us to the close of the first 60 years in the history of the KCBC, but there will be many more chapters to fill in the years to come. We hope our readers will contact us with more information that we can continue to add to this book so there are even more stories of how God’s family at the KCBC grew over the years. God has pulled this church through very difficult times with finances, personality conflicts, spiritual attacks, and more. But God is always faithful. The hard times taught us many things, and as the years go by we continue to grow from those past experiences.
The most important thing about this church is the fact that the people have always stood firm on the Word of God.
The Bible has always been taught. If something tried to distract from that, it was removed. The Family of God at the KCBC is true family, welcoming all who join us, sticking together through thick and thin, working to make it a better family and building, being there for each other, praying without ceasing. Reaching out where we can and when we have the abilities, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, sending many out to spread the gospel in all areas of the world. God’s hand has always been on the Kittredge Community Bible Church, and will remain faithful!