[We are indebted to Sandy Nadeau, a former member of KCBC, for writing this several years ago.]
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.
Kittredge Union Sunday School
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.
Kittredge Union Church
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 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 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 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.
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.
Dorothy Gorton, the mother of three teenagers and a fulltime 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.