Columbine United Church started in a small living room. Fifteen people sat on chairs and couches dreaming of a congregation that was going to someday become a thriving part of the Columbine community. Together, they felt the call of God to minister to the people of this new suburb. It was more than just a dream, it was a reality to which they would dedicate their lives. This humble group of fifteen, some still in our congregation, built the foundation of the church that we now know and love.
In 1968, Columbine was founded as a United Methodist Church. The first group of members worked hard to build and expand their dream, but met great challenges. Their fledgling congregation struggled to expand beyond their initial group. They even considered dissolving as a congregation. The spark for the group came when they were approached by the three denominations, The Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Methodist, and the United Church of Christ, to form an ecumenical congregation. These denominations were working to plant three new ecumenical churches in the Denver metro area – one in Montbello, one in Aurora, and a third in the Columbine Valley. It was this spark that ignited the ministry that would soon flourish into Columbine United Church.
What caught the soul of people who were invited to this small group to worship was the strong sense of a welcoming community. Everyone knew each other’s names and they genuinely cared about the individuals and families that lived and worked around them. The small group began to expand and grow. The congregation bought their first piece of property on a small bluff above Platte Canyon Rd. They built a Montessori school, and then met in the school building (which currently serves as our staff offices) on Sunday morning and rearranged the chairs back for school on Monday morning.
The congregation took another major leap of faith when they decided to build a sanctuary. When the denominations denied funding for the project because they lacked a large membership, several of the members took out second mortgages on their homes to secure the necessary financing. These members talk fondly about the first Christmas Eve held in their barely-closed-in sanctuary. They were bundled in down coats and sat on bales of hay and folding chairs.
The congregation grew and expanded as the neighborhoods around Columbine expanded. Several pastors led the congregation, beginning with Rev. Doug Bale and then Rev. Jim Brock. Columbine went through a large expansion when Rev. Ken Biel was hired in 1977. Ken took the small congregation and grew it to a thriving 600-member congregation. Columbine was known for its dynamic ministry that welcomed people from all different theological and denominational backgrounds. When Ken retired in 1991, then Associate Pastor, Steve Poos-Benson, was hired as the Senior Pastor and Head of Staff. Under Steve’s tenure, CUC took its next step of growth to its current size of 1200 members. Throughout the history of Columbine, there have been many strong pastoral and lay leaders which have led the congregation.
The seeds of the congregation, planted back in its conception, still continue to flourish. Columbine is known for its welcoming community that embraces people of all theological and denominational backgrounds. The dream of the first members, to build a congregation that would provide dynamic worship and serve its community, is realized every day of the week. The present congregation is a living testimony to what God can do through a small group of people, who feel the call of Christ in their lives.
Today, we are still affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), the United Church of Christ and The United Methodist Church.