[We are indebted to Sandy Nadeau, a former member of KCBC, for writing this several years ago.]
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 fourth 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 24 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.