A church is not a building, but a group of like-minded people.
Church in the Wildwood has been part of the Green Mountain Falls Community for 135 years. A group of like-minded people chartered the Congregational Church of Christ in 1889. Construction of the sanctuary was completed in 1893.
In 1921, the congregation reorganized as a Community Church. An annex (seen below to the left of the sanctuary) was added to the sanctuary in 1940, followed by a second story over the annex in 1958. Then in 1973, the building expanded to include the fellowship hall and kitchen.
Photo from an old postcard, courtesy of the Pikes Peak Library District digital archives.
In 2021, thanks to a generous grant from the Kirkpatrick fund, the church underwent an extensive remodel to create a modern wedding venue, meeting spaces, and advanced sound and technology system.
Below is an account of the Church in the Wildwood's history, gathered by church members. This timeline begins in the late 1800s and continues to present day. This is a living account and will be updated as we uncover past memories. If you have something to add, please contact us!
1871 In the middle of a cattle ranch, Ogden Whitlock builds the first house in what will become Green Mountain Falls.
1887 The Colorado Midland Railroad arrives in Green Mountain Falls.
1888 Families begin attending worship services and holding Sunday school in homes and in the sawdust of a local lumberyard and sawmill. This site later became the Children’s Ark.
1888 Green Mountain Falls incorporates as a town.
1889 The pavilion — the gazebo — is built on an island in the lake. A school is opened in Green Mountain Falls.
1889 On July 17th, fewer than a dozen families charter the Congregational Church of Christ in Green Mountain Falls, as the Congregational Society of Green Mountain Falls elects the church’s first Board of Trustees. The trustees are John Potter, F. E. Dow (a member of the Green Mountain Falls Realty and a former mayor of Colorado Springs), William G. Riddoch, and H. H. Hall. Elmer E. and Kathryn Brown, Mr. and Mrs. James H. Jewitt (who had moved here from New York), and other families are involved in founding the church. On September 1st, the church receives a gift of a lot of land from the Green Mountain Falls Town and Improvement Company. On September 26th the church issues a trust deed to B. F. Crowell to secure a $1,000 promissory note to begin construction of the church. The church is affiliated with the Congregational Society.
1891 In August, two thousand people gather at the gazebo to hear the renowned Brooklyn preacher Rev. T. DeWitt Talmadge. A small choir was accompanied by an organist playing a cabinet organ.
1893 On February 11th, the Congregational Church Building Society donates $540 toward church construction.
1893 On February 24th, the Society loans the church $400. At a cost of $1,490, the sanctuary is completed. The architect is Mark H. Duesenbury. Sr. Elmer E. Brown, a founder of the church who is also a carpenter and building contractor, contributes his time and talent. James H. Jewitt, a founder of the church who is also a retired green house and nursery businessman, leads the beautifying of the church building and grounds. Many local residents contribute their labor. A pulpit and two guest chairs are contributed. Rev. Pembroke officiates at the earliest services.
The congregation re-organized to a Community Church in 1921. PPLD digital archives.
In the decades to come, the church is overflowing in the summer and very small in the winter. For nearly 60 years, visiting summer pastors stay in a cabin and preach. Pastors also come up from Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. For special occasions like Christmas and Easter, ministers are sent by the State Congregational Missionary Society. Other than the summers, Sunday school is held in members’ homes. Potlucks and socials are held in the town hall.
1921 On March 21st, the church becomes a Community Church sponsored by the Congregational Church. Dr. Hopkins of Manitou Springs helps with the reorganization.
1923 On November 2nd, Kathryn Brown, Margaret G. Hart, Nellie Diveley, Margaret Taylor, Laura Mahan, and Eva Williams establish the Ladies Guild of the church. Kathryn Brown becomes the first president.
1936 The initial center wing (annex) is completed. Hal Brown is the contractor.
1939 The church celebrates its 50th anniversary. On August 13th, a bell tower and bell are added to the vestibule. Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Sanders have brought the bell to Colorado by trailer from an abandoned church on their recently-acquired property in Kansas. (For a few years the bell will be rung whenever there is a fire in Green Mountain Falls.)
1940 The one-story center wing (annex) is completed, and it includes a fellowship hall. Hal Brown is the contractor.
1947 The members begin holding regular Sunday school in the church building. However, Sunday school classes continue to be held in homes all over town.
1948 The sanctuary interior is redecorated.
1950 The “old rugged cross” is made and donated by Hal Brown in memory of his parents, church founders Elmer E. and Kathryn Brown.
1955 The church is renamed The Church in the Wildwood. The name is suggested by long-time summer resident Mary Haymaker, professor of religion at Wichita University.
1956 A new organ is installed in time for Easter services. Two services are held each Sunday, but there is an overflow crowd each Sunday at the 11:00 service. Sunday school is being held all over the chancel and center wing as well as the town hall and community hall. In September, Rev. Conrad Pyle becomes the first full-time minister of Church in the Wildwood.
1957 On August 25th, the restyled Chancel is dedicated at morning services. Both the sanctuary and the center wing (annex) are filled to overflowing. The motto “the mountains shall bring peace to the people,” previously designed from evergreen spruce boughs, is now embedded permanently at the front of the sanctuary in wooden letters in a rustic medieval script. The architect is Edward Tillman of Crystola and the contractor is Kenneth “Red” Quinn. Norton Rosentreter is chairman of the board of trustees and Lawrence H. McAdams is the building chairman.
1958 A second story is added over the center wing. Edward Tillman is the architect. On March 17th, Women’s Fellowship is organized.
1962 On January 7th, members of Church in the Wildwood vote to become a congregation of the United Church of Christ.
1964 Church in the Wildwood celebrates its 75th anniversary, under the direction of Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth “Red” Quinn.
1965 On May 16th, Rev. J. Paul Tatter becomes the second full-time minister of Church in the Wildwood. As international students, Tatter and his future wife Olga escaped on what turned out to be the last train to freedom from Prague, Czechoslovakia, just before the Nazi invasion in 1938. At Wildwood he was known for his warmth, love, compassion, humor, enthusiasm, and joy. Membership grew and church programs were expanded.
1966 The 7 stained-glass windows along the sides of the sanctuary are donated by Mary Haymaker.
1968 The large stained-glass window on the back wall of the sanctuary is donated by Katherine McClelland Knight and family.
1973 The church is expanded to include the fellowship hall with the kitchen and the stage as well as classrooms and a pastor’s study. Bill Page is the architect, Paul Ryan is the building contractor, and Kenneth “Red” Quinn is the supervisor. To celebrate their 50th anniversary, the Ladies Guild of Church in the Wildwood donates stained-glass light fixtures for the new fellowship hall.
1979 A choir loft is added as an expansion to the sanctuary, the sanctuary is refurbished (including the new pews, made of Pennsylvania oak), and new offices are added in the center wing (annex). Bob Patchell donates his time and talent to make the new altar furniture — the pulpit, lectern, communion table, chairs, and baptismal font. The walls of the church are jacked up and steel beams are run under the church so that a new foundation can be put in. (During this work, the “Rock” now sitting below the lectern is found under the church.) And a new roof is added. This is all made possible by a generous gift from Warren and Charlotte Griffith. Bill Page is the architect and Harlan Nimrod is the contractor. Also, at this time, an old piece of wood is found with the names of the men who built the sanctuary between 1889 and 1893.
1980 On June 8th a new electric organ is contributed in memory of Davis Bovaird.
1981 In September the Ladies’ Guild disbands after 58 years of faithful service. On December 31st, Rev. J. Paul Tatter retires as minister.
1983 Rev. David G. Cooper becomes the third full-time minister of Church in the Wildwood. He is from Grand Rapids, Michigan.
1989 The Church in the Wildwood celebrates its centennial, including a special ceremony on Sunday, September 24.
1991 In June, Rev. Dr. James A. “Jim” Harrelson becomes the fourth full-time pastor of Church in the Wildwood. He is from St. Francis, Kansas.
2000 On February 1st, Rev. Peter Stitsinger becomes the fifth full-time pastor of Church in the Wildwood. He comes from Davis, Illinois.
2005 Rev. David Shaw becomes the sixth full-time pastor of Church in the Wildwood. He grew up in England and Connecticut.
2009 The Church in the Wildwood leaves behind the "Council/ Board" model of church organization and embarks upon a new journey as a "ministry team" based congregation.
2013 The Lower Fellowship Hall is renovated with a new handicap accessible entryway. Funds were generously donated by the Kirkpatrick Family Fund to support the project.
2016 Rev. Diane Martin becomes the seventh full-time pastor of Church in the Wildwood.
2019 Rev. Darlene Avery becomes the eighth (and current) Settled Pastor of Church in the Wildwood.
2020-2021 During the COVID-19 pandemic, the church undergoes a major remodel to to create a modern wedding venue, meeting spaces, and advanced sound and technology system.
A Continuing Legacy
Like its founders in 1889, the Church in the Wildwood continues to be a place for families and like-minded people to gather in fellowship and love. The church welcomes new members and visitors. If you are already a member, please invite someone new!