Nazarene Church celebrates 100 years of service
Baptism in the Gunnison River - 1919
Gunnison Valley Church of the Nazarene will celebrate its 100th year of existence Sunday, Aug. 19. A day of celebration begins at 10 a.m. with former pastor, Clark Childers, preaching the sermon and Crosswalk providing special music. An old-fashioned barbecue will follow the service.
What can one say about 100 years of service to a community? It would be impossible to know how many lives have been touched, or even changed in that length of time by the people who served, individually and collectively in the Church of the Nazarene here in Delta. Maybe you were one of them? If so, please come and share your story with others this Sunday.
One hundred years ago Rev. J. R. Hunter came to town and pitched a tent at the corner of 5th & Main, where the present day Clubb's Store now stands. He held several weeks of evangelistic services. Following the revival campaign, the Pentecostal Church of the Nazarene of Delta was organized on Aug. 31, 1918, by Rev. J.R. Hunter, and became the second Nazarene Church on the Western Slope, Montrose Church of the Nazarene being the first.
Minutes of that organizational meeting, which are still on file at the present-day church, show 57 members signed the original charter.
Rev. Hunter and all the ministers who followed for many years made great sacrifices financing the church and providing for their own families. They worked at many varied occupations to see the work go forward.
"The Hall" as it was known became the first place of worship. Later the church moved to the court room in the old courthouse, while the basement church (1920) at 3rd and Palmer was constructed. That same location later housed the Coca-Cola Bottling Company.
Rev. Hunter resigned in 1921 to plant new churches in Salt Lake City and California. Fred Kerst was called to pastor in 1921 and stayed only one year.
He was followed by W.T. Mason, 1922-1923, and Rev. Ray Howell, 1923-1924. During that time the basement church was condemned, and it was necessary to move again. St. Luke's Episcopal Church graciously offered their church while Rev. Howell constructed a small frame building on 8th and Main in 1924.
Rev. B.R. Golightly served from 1924-1925 and then on several occasions to supply the pulpit over the years whenever he was needed.
The Church of the Nazarene has always ordained women. Rev. Lillian Wilson, who was known as an inspirational leader, came to pastor the church in 1925. Her husband A.W. Wilson was a carpenter, so land was purchased at 8th and Palmer and the west wing of the church was constructed under his skillful hand and leadership. Rev. Lillian Wilson served the church and community from 1925-1930.
Rev. J.H. Crawford, and his wife, both good preachers, soon arrived with a large family. He stayed two years, leaving in 1932, and Rev. L.A. Ogden followed, serving three years. He left in October 1935.
On New Year's Day, Rev. and Mrs. Frank Evans arrived. Mrs. Evans was also a good preacher, so together they gave the church a spiritual uplift. The sanctuary was enlarged, and the Sunday school grew under their ministry.
Rev. W.T. Johnson came from Oklahoma in June 1942, and only served three months before leaving to pursue evangelistic work. Then in October, Rev. James Barr came from Idaho to fill the pulpit. Under his ministry the church was again enlarged, and the ground south of the church was purchased for a parsonage.
Under the ministry of Rev. L.P. Roberts, 1947-1949, the church erected a larger sanctuary. It is told that on the following Christmas Sunday in the old church, there were 450 in Sunday school, and the small church overflowed with children sitting on the platform and altar.
Helen Marsh and Jewell Land, both good preachers and musicians, filled the pulpit until Rev. Eugene Moores arrived in March 1950. Rev. James Hamilton, who still lives locally, came from Florida in September 1952, and served the community until the spring of 1955.
Rev. Melvin Carpenter, 1955-1961, directed the building of a parsonage beside the church.
In July 1961, Rev. Maurice Moore returned to Delta as pastor with his wife and two sons.
Rev. Marshall Vaughn served the church from 1964-1968. In June 1966 a much-needed remodeling and redecorating program was undertaken.
Rev. Garth Hyd, 1968-1971, was followed by Rev. Clarence Griffin, 1971-1973. During his ministry he was elected president of the Delta Kiwanis Club. The whole community was shocked when he died while ice fishing at Blue Mesa Lake. After the death of Rev. Griffin, Rev. John Snyder filled the pulpit for a few months in 1973.
He was followed by Rev. Bert Edwards, 1973-1975; Rev. Paul Trissel, 1975-1977; Rev. Paul Jackson, 1977-1988, longer than any pastor up to that time.
Rev. Marvin Rankin pastored the church for just 18 months in 1988-1989.
In December 1989 Rev. Jack Camp and his wife Mary were called to pastor. The building at 8th and Palmer was sold to Taylor Funeral Service in 1991. Land was purchased at the corner of H and 1725 Road where the present church building was constructed. The first service was held in the new building on Nov. 1, 1992. At that time the name of the church was changed to Gunnison Valley Church of the Nazarene. Rev. Jack Camp served the church from 1989 until 1995.
Dr. Clark A. Childers served the church from Dec. 24, 1995, until May 2003. He still resides in Grand Junction and will be the keynote speaker at the 100th celebration on Aug. 19.
Pastor Terry Hedrick came to the Gunnison Valley Church in November 2003 and still serves as senior pastor. At this point he is the longest serving pastor in the history of the church. During his stay the church has started house churches and planted or helped plant several other churches in the area. At present Rev. Hedrick presides over the planting of cowboy churches for the Colorado District Church of the Nazarene.
The church's goal is 10/40: that for every 40 miles, the church will gather up 10 people who will in turn plant another church. "We believe in raising up disciples for the Lord Jesus Christ empowering them, and then sending them out," Rev. Hedrick said.