The founding of the Union Congregational Church
The Union Congregational Church of Crested Butte, Colorado was founded in 1880 with assistance from the American Missionary Society. At that time meetings were held in the old School House. On March 22, 1882, the Church was officially named, a constitution and by-laws approved, and the Apostle’s Creed acscepted as a formula of belief. Then, in 1883, the Church building was erected. Though it has undergone some structural changes up to the present, the building appears much as it did when first completed. The belfry was not finished until after 1890. The present bell was brought from a church in 1917 to replace the original one, which had cracked. All the beams for the structure were hand-hewn on the site. There was also a rough-cut, unfinished balcony which can be seen through the upper windows at the front of the Church.
Structural changes and additions to the Church building
Originally the Church building had a front vestibule, which was later moved to the rear and converted into a coal shed and outhouse. The interior of the sanctuary was painted with an angel on either side of the choir loft just below the circular window. There were no pews until 1961 when the present hand-carved pews were purchased from the old Catholic Church in town. The hand-carved pulpit and communion table and the stained glass rosette window were donated in 1975 by the Ralph Walton family. The seven identical stained glass windows were the gift of Helen Morgan in 1983. The dais was built by Rev. Tim Clark in 1993.
Among the other structural changes in the Church building are the removal of a false ceiling in the sanctuary to supply the present plywood paneling on the walls, the conversion from coal stoves to a gas furnace, the addition of four restrooms and two kitchens, and the restoration of the outside entryway. In 1963, a small cabin was moved from the south end of town and placed behind the Church as a parsonage. The former one, still located at the northwest corner of 4th and Maroon was sold to Tim and Helen Morgan in 1936 as a residence. The Paradise Place Preschool addition was erected behind the church in 1987 and housed the program until 2001 when the congregation built a new Christian Education building for it across Maroon Avenue from the church. The memorial prayer garden at the corner of 4th and Maroon with a waterfall feature was added in 2004 to offer a place to pray, contemplate and even perform baptisms.
The history of pastors at the UCC Church
Reverend Edwin Martin was the first pastor of the UCC Church from 1883 to 1893. Because the Church could not fully support a resident minister during the early part of this century, the pastor’s salary was paid jointly by the congregation and the C. F & I. mine. After the resignation of the Reverend Russel Morris in April of 1927, the congregation was without a full time pastor until 1984. At present, the congregation is led by Reverend Timothy Q. Clark who has been UCC’s ordained senior minister since 1992, and Rev. Kelly Jo Clark, associate minister since 2003. As it stands today, the house of worship of the Union Congregational Church of Crested Butte is a monument to the devotion and faith of the people who have crossed its threshold throughout the years. The services in the sanctuary are now enhanced by a Yamaha grand piano, a state of the art Rodgers digital organ, a modern sound system and video live-streaming capability. Come visit our historic Victorian era treasure still holding true to its original purpose, sharing God’s love with all!