Gilpin County sees first new church built in over 100 years
By Patty Unruh
Thirty-five years ago, seven men met at the mouth of Golden Gate Canyon and prayed, asking God to put a church in Gilpin County where folks could attend and then go out to experience Him in the wilderness. An important part of that vision was a special place for children and youth.
On July 7, that prayer became reality for the people of Christ the King Community Church (CTK) as they held the first worship service in the facility they just completed at 971 Highway 46 across the road from the Gilpin County Fairgrounds.
As Pastor Tom Davidson stood up to give the message, he felt overwhelmed as he thought, “Look what God has done.” Although the building is distinctive, Davidson says the people would have been willing to meet in a tent. They give God all the credit and want to use the building as a ministry and a tool for outreach to the community.
The group will celebrate with a “grand opening” on Sunday, August 11. Events planned for that day include a worship service at 10:30 a.m. with a Colorado Springs vocal group, “Reflections,” providing a special musical program. A lunch will follow at around noon, and at 1:30, the band Six Days and a Rest will perform a free concert. Children’s activities will be available throughout the day. The community is invited to any or all of the activities and is also encouraged to check out the church’s website at ctkonline.com/blackhawk for details about the church’s beliefs, groups, and building history.
The church members, who intend for the building to be used, hit the ground running by conducting a week-long Vacation Bible School the day after its first service. The calendar for July and August shows activities taking place there nearly every day, including music practices, Bible studies for men and women, and youth and children’s activities. The church is also in the process of stocking a food bank.
Most county residents driving down Highways 119 or 46 have likely noticed the church’s green steel roof standing above the treetops on the skyline. The church is located on 15 acres and is designed to be both beautiful and functional. The building’s 5,500 square foot interior has a full two-story structure, including a spacious sanctuary, kitchen, nursery, and areas for children and youth. Beetle-kill pine paneling alternates with cream-colored drywall for a warm and welcoming appearance. The parking area accommodates about 70 cars.
The building was erected with mostly volunteer laborers, including many members who work in the building trades. Dozens of men, women, and teens gave thousands of hours of time, money, and materials as they installed framing, plumbing, insulation, paneling, cabinetry, ceilings, sound, audio-visual, and security systems. Young children helped with cleaning, staining, and other jobs. Several local contractors also worked on the project, some donating considerable labor and materials, for which the church is deeply grateful. Amazingly, people who don’t even attend the church came to work and to offer donated items. The church budgeted for a fairly basic structure and furnishings, but members were awed as the generous donations of many individuals made it possible to upgrade nearly every facet of the project.
A summary of the church’s building timeline follows:
- 2008: Money donated for purchase of the land
- 2008-2010: Planning commission, surveys, designing the building, clearing trees, building a road and parking lot
- Summer 2010: Ground breaking
- 2011-2012: Well drilled, septic, footings, and foundation put in, shell erected
- March 2012-July 2013: Interior work done
- July 5, 2013: Certificate of occupancy issued
The church began about 14 years ago with a small group of local folks who were meeting in homes for Bible study. Davidson recalls sharing a question: “Why did God bring us up here?” Eventually, it became apparent that the answer was to plant a new church. The group was granted use of the multi-purpose room at Gilpin County School for its services and began to meet for worship every other week. After a few years of meeting in the main school building, the CTK folks were allowed to rent the school’s rustic cabin located adjacent to the bus garage.
The group originally chose “Gilpin County Community Church” as its name and called students from Denver Seminary to come and preach. After a time, the group was able to call a pastor, who served at the church for a few years, then went on to other things. The church members then desired to join with a larger group for additional support and accountability. They elected to become part of Christ the King, a non-denominational church based in Washington state with churches in multiple locations. The Gilpin church then became known as Christ the King Community Church and was the first CTK church established outside of Washington. CTK also has churches located in Durango, Colorado and in Idaho, Florida, Oregon, Canada, Pakistan, India, Kenya, South Africa, and the Philippines. The atmosphere is contemporary and casual, with an emphasis on small groups.
After joining with CTK, the members continued to meet in the school’s cabin, but began looking for a place to call their own. Member Paul Dellinger noticed a newspaper article about a woman who sold her land in Black Hawk to the City for casino development. She stated, “I want to do something for the kids in Gilpin County.” Dellinger and another church member wrote a letter telling her of the church’s hopes to build in the county. One of the main purposes, Dellinger wrote, was to have ministries and events for children. He and a couple of other members met with her, and on the condition of anonymity, she gave money that was used to purchase the land.
Church members see God’s work in this and in the purchase of the parcel where the church was built in mid-county. The prime parcel had been for sale for years. Dellinger contacted the seller and offered cash for the amount of the donation, which was considerably less than the amount the seller was asking. He agreed to sell.
The land purchase was about 40 percent of the total project cost; the church also secured a small private loan, as well as a grant to be used for a children’s outdoor play area, which likely will be constructed by the summer of 2014.
Plans for future expansion are already being considered as CTK expects to grow. A special area for prayer, a room for potlucks and events, and a fellowship hall that could also serve as a basketball court are some of the ideas. There is also room for an outdoor amphitheater. In keeping with the original vision, wilderness adventures are planned. Some members will be donating a steeple, which they are in the process of building themselves.
Dellinger was one of the original seven who prayed for a church. He had served as the regional activities chairman for Boys’ Brigade, a Christian group similar to Boy Scouts, in the late 1970’s. He and other leaders regularly brought groups of about 200 boys ages eight through 18 on camping trips to Pickle Gulch in Gilpin County and on wilderness treks. Those were challenging experiences that led boys to become men of God and are among his most treasured memories.
“I saw some of the boys who were in the program go on to become pastors, missionaries, and other ministry leaders,” he relates. Working with the boys sparked his desire to ask God for a church where importance was placed on children and youth. His own son Tom Dellinger, a member of CTK, is in construction and directed much of the work on the church building.
Over the years, Paul Dellinger continued to pray. As he walked the land where the building is now, he chose a rock to sit on and talk to God. “What amazed me is how God supplied the material and the workers,” he marvels. “I would ask God for a carpenter or electrician, and within a week, it would happen. It was all centered and focused on the rock where I sat with God.”
Tom Davidson never imagined that God would call him as a pastor. His first preaching experience came at a church he and wife Judy attended in Idaho Springs, where he filled in after a substitute preacher did not show up. After the Gilpin County group started with CTK, he volunteered to do “whatever it takes” to help the church and ended up as pastor.
Through the years, the church has shared good times and bad. “It amazes me that we’ve remained faithful and just hung in there,” he says. “We wanted to quit many times, but we encouraged each other to trust the Lord. The building is the result of that.” He adds, “God exceeded our vision of what we wanted.”
Davidson characterizes CTK as a lighthouse, hospital, and safe haven for people looking for God. He says the church has formed its own identity through the years and acknowledges it is not for everyone, but says, “We are not trying to be everything to everyone. We are who we are.”
He sums up the feelings of the church members by saying, “We want to bring glory and honor to God and do whatever He wants. What that will entail, we don’t yet know. It’s His building and He knows best.”