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 upon 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! A testimony.
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. 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 into 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.