A Short History

History of Methodism in
the Wet Mountain Valley and Westcliffe, Colorado

1882-1887. In the early years of settlements in the Wet Mountain Valley, services were held by a variety of itinerant preachers and missionaries. Cyrus A. Brooks was appointed by the Colorado United Methodist Conference to the Wet Mountain Valley. He preached his first sermon at Ula in August 1872.

Reverend Stokes, a Methodist missionary stationed in the Wet Mountain Valley, conducted services in 1873 in the communities of Rosita and Ula. In 1874, Rev. Lonzo W. Smith established a Methodist Church in Rosita, where a building with a bell was soon built. A later pastor of the church in Rosita, Rev. J. H. Smith, organized the First Methodist Episcopal Church of Sliver Cliff in 1879. By 1880 a church was built and dedicated. The Presbyterians built a church in Ula, but by 1887 they had moved it to Westcliffe. Services were held regularly in that building.

1923-1939. In 1923, Rev. O. S. Hammond along with Rev. H. D. Thompson organized the Community Methodist Church in Westcliffe. By December 1924, the Presbytery of Pueblo had sold the building to the Methodist Episcopal Church South. The church was a member of Albuquerque-Denver District in the New Mexico Conference until 1939, when North and South joined in one Methodist Church.

1950-1959. By the early 1950s the original church building in Westcliffe was showing its age. In November of 1952 at the first quarterly conference, the congregation began the process toward a new building for the church. By June 19, 1954, at a quarterly conference, the final vote of approval of the members was obtained to continue plans to build a new church of frame construction with one floor.

In September 1954 the old building was dismantled, ground breaking for the new building was held and construction began. A time capsule was placed in the wall of the northeast corner of the new church building. The Sanctuary was completed, and the Fellowship Hall was enclosed by April 1955. The Hall was completed by 1959. Church members added beauty and function to the building.

1967-1987. The old parsonage located a block north of the church was sold In 1967, and the house directly south of the church was purchased as a parsonage. The 50th anniversary of the Community United Methodist Church was held in September 1973. The roof of the Sanctuary building had been considerably damaged during a heavy snowstorm in 1958, and by 1980 the roof was sagging because several rafters had been broken. Following a very successful campaign, the roof was replaced and the roof of Fellowship Hall shingled.

Early in 1982, an extensive remodeling job was done on the parsonage. The back porch was removed and replaced with a large utility room. In the fall of 1987 the basement of the parsonage was remodeled and made into a family room and office. A deck was added at the back door of the parsonage.

1991. Many repairs and upgrades were made on the church and parsonage. A ramp was added to the south side entrance of the building to make the church handicapped accessible. Many of these repairs and upgrades were made possible by generous contributions of time and money by various members of the church.

1994. The 70th anniversary of the Community United Methodist Church in Westcliffe was celebrated in April. Several former pastors and their wives attended.

1996. On July 1, the Rev. Diane M. Bell was appointed to Community United Methodist Church, the first woman pastor to serve this church.

1998. A new organ was purchased and dedicated in August. The old organ was decommissioned by removing its brass plate which was then framed along with a picture of Ruth Luthi in whose memory that organ had originally been given. On August 30th, the congregation celebrated the 75th anniversary of the Community United Methodist Church. The congregation began to welcome new members with many people attending church. An early 8:00 a.m. service began.

2000. Discussions and plans for a new church were begun early in the year. The congregation purchased acreage on Ridgeline Road with the intent to build a new church there.

2001. Plans for a new parsonage were completed with the purchase of a manufactured home, which was placed on the lot next to the old parsonage. As one-half of the building was being lowered to the new foundation, the crane slipped and dropped it. A different crane was brought in the next day and both halves were successfully placed on the foundation. The new parsonage was dedicated in March. The old parsonage became office and classrooms for church school use.

2003. On July 6, the congregation celebrated the 80th anniversary of the Community United Methodist Church of Westcliffe, Colorado. The service was held in a big tent on the church property on Ridgeline Road.

2005. When Rev. Steven D. Miller was appointed to serve in 2005, he chose to purchase a home in the area. His mother-in-law lived in the new parsonage for a time and when she could no longer live alone, the parsonage was rented. The interior of the sanctuary was rearranged to create a semicircle of pews facing the pulpit, now placed in the middle of the north wall of the church. The choir remained in the choir loft.

2009. To utilize the acreage that the church owned but had not yet developed, members of the congregation built a lovely labyrinth on the site. It was dedicated in November. The Administrative Council decided that the new parsonage could be more effectively used as the office and classroom building. In December, the office and classrooms were moved to the new parsonage and the old parsonage was rented to a family. The new office space and the classroom space are lovingly called the Home Office.

2011. Deborah Christine was appointed to serve Community United Methodist Church.

2013. On August 25, the congregation celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Community United Methodist Church of Westcliffe, Colorado.

Pastors, 1923-2013