The first Baptist Church in Colorado was established at Denver,
September 25, i860, with a membership of twenty-seven. These pioneers
called this first organization the Rocky Mountain Baptist Church. Elder
James Ripley was called to the pastorate, and J. Saxton and M. A. Clarke
were the first deacons. Robert S. Roe was the first chief clerk. The
congregation obtained the use of the courthouse from the owner, Judge
Buchanan, free of charge. The members, however, soon scattered into
various camps, and in 1861 the organization failed. In its best days,
however, it not alone sustained the church but a Sunday school with nearly
a hundred members.
The records of the First Baptist Church in
Golden show that it was established about August 1, 1863, and this justly
claims to be the oldest existing Baptist church in Colorado.
December 27, 1863, the first meeting of those interested in the
organization of a permanent Baptist Church in Denver was held, and a
committee appointed at this time secured the United States court room on
Ferry Street for its services. Rev. Walter M. Potter, who had been sent to
the territory at this time by the American Baptist Home Mission Society,
On May 2, 1864, the First Baptist Church of Denver was
organized, with the following members: Rev. Walter M. Potter, Miss Lucy K.
Potter, Francis Gallup, Henry C. Leach, Mrs. A. Voorhies, Mrs. L.
Burdsall, Mrs. L. Hall, Mrs. A. C. Hall and Miss E. Throughman. Mr. Gallup
was the first deacon, and Henry C. Leach was first clerk and treasurer. In
May, 1866, Rev. Ira D. Clark was pastor, remaining a year, and in May,
1868, Rev. A. M. Arneill became pastor, followed by Rev. Lewis M. Raymond.
Rev. Ira D. Clark built the basement on the church lots at the corner of
Curtis and G streets, and Rev. W. Scott, who succeeded Mr. Raymond,
erected a lecture room on lots donated by Rev. Walter M. Potter, the first
pastor of the church. He had preempted 320 acres near the city, and with
his uncle. W. Gaston, of Boston, bought fifty acres covering the present
depot grounds. All of this, worth in 1873 nearly a hundred thousand
dollars, was left to the Mission bodies of the church.
Mountain Baptist Association was organized September 21, 1866, in the
United States Court room in Denver, its first moderator being Rev. Ira D.
Clark. The Colorado Baptist churches represented and unrepresented at this
first session were as follows: Canon City, membership fifty-four; First
Denver, eighteen members; Golden City, twenty-eight members; Denver Zion
(colored), eight members; Central City, thirty-six members; Colorado City,
At its session in 1867, with Cheyenne added, its
total membership in the state was 180. Mt. Vernon and Georgetown were
organized in the following year.
In 1873 the Baptist Church had a
firm hold in this field. At Central City a $4,500 church building was
under erection, and its membership had grown to fifty-four. The First
Baptist Church of Denver was building a $12,000 structure, and had a
membership of ninety-four. The Baptist Church in Golden was not alone a
commodious brick building, but had a tower with bell. Its member-ship was
twenty-two. In Greeley the largest church in the place, built at a cost of
$6,500, was occupied by a Baptist membership of forty.
which was part of the Colorado district, had just organized.
Zion had a good church building and seventeen members.
the membership of thirty-five worshiped in a leased building.
time there were services held in the Hard Scrabble district, and on the
Greenhorn, by preachers who had taken up farming in these sections.
Colorado City, Cheyenne and Mt. Vernon church organizations had become
extinct, "owing principally to the unsettled character of the population
in those places when the churches were organized." At this time new
churches were organizing at Boulder, Longmont, Evans, Platte Valley,
Colorado Springs, Pueblo, Fountain and at Idaho Springs. Rev. James
French, who was then territorial missionary, announced that he had sold
for the owner one of "the celebrated Idaho springs" and had earned a
commission of $1,000, which, as he said, "I propose to give to the Home
Mission Society, to be designated towards building a church edifice at
Late in 1872 a new association of seven churches
was organized in southern Colorado, and new meetinghouses were building
"on the Cuchares, the Apache, the Greenhorn, the Hard Scrabble, and at
The first meeting of what was to be known as
the Southern Colorado Baptist Association met in Caņon City, November 22,
1872, elected Andrew Brown moderator, and was represented as follows:
Caņon City, thirty- four members; Colorado Springs, nineteen members;
Fountain, five; Huerfano, thirty; New Hope (on the Hard Scrabble),
twenty-two; Pueblo and Spanish Peaks, just organizing.
organization met in 1873 at New Hope, Spanish Peaks reported a membership
of forty-three; Pueblo, seventeen; Dodson, seven; Monument, five. The
total membership was 199, and nine churches comprised the conference. In
1874 the membership was 219.
In 1874 the Rocky Mountain
Association, with nine churches, at Denver (2), Golden, Greeley, Central
City, Laramie, Boulder, Platte Valley and Bear Canon, had a total
membership of 458. This figure was 427 in 1873.
At the session of
the Rocky Mountain Baptist Association in 1874 a communication from Gov.
John Evans requested cooperation in the founding of the University of
Denver. At that time the plan was to establish a seat of learning, with
the support of "The Protestant Episcopal, Methodist Episcopal,
Presbyterian and Baptist churches." The project was endorsed, but later
the University became exclusively a Methodist Episcopal institution.
In 1877 the ten churches in the Rocky Mountain Baptist Association had
a membership of 631; in the Southern Association there were fourteen
churches, with a membership of 395.
The record of the Baptist
churches in the southern field follows: Canon City, established 1865;
Fountain, 1870; New Hope, 1871; Pueblo, Colorado Springs, Spanish Peaks,
1872; Monument, 1875; Saguache, 1876; Las Vegas, N. M., 1880; Durango,
Gardner, Gunnison City, 1881; Grand Junction, Salida, Raton, N. M., Lake
City, 1883; Table Rock, 1884. In 1883 its church property was valued at
$29,100; its membership was 613.
In 1885 the value of church
property in the Rocky Mountain Baptist Association territory was $162,700,
and the membership was 1,319. There were now two churches, the First and
Calvary, in Denver, the First and Second in Cheyenne, one each at Boulder,
Fort Collins, Golden, Greeley, Laramie, Leadville, Loveland, Lone Tree and
Sunnyside. The moderators of the Rocky Mountain Baptist Association for
its first two decades had been: 1866, Rev. Ira D. Clark; 1867, Rev. Jos.
Casto; 1868, Rev. T. T. Potter; 1869, 1870, 1871, Rev. B. M. Adams; 1872,
1874, Rev. S. D. Bowker; 1873, Rev. D. F. Safford; 1875, Rev. T. W.
Greene; 1876, Rev. W. C. Lothrop; 1877, Rev. D. J. Pierce; 1878, Rev. I.
C. Whipple; 1879, 1880, 1881, R. S. Roe; 1882, Rev. J. G. Brown; 1883,
Rev. C. M. Jones; 1884, Rev. C. L. Ingersoll; 1885, Rev. E. N. Elton.
In 1884 the Rocky Mountain Baptist Union was formed, with delegates
from both the Rocky Mountain Baptist Association and the Southern Colorado
Baptist Association, as well as from the territories of Wyoming. New
Mexico and Utah.
On July 23, 1886, the Gunnison Valley Baptist
Association held its first meeting in Grand Junction, Saguache, Delta,
Colorow and Grand Junction being represented. Its first moderator was Rev.
Moses A. Clarke. The total membership in the new district was 104. In
1888, Aspen, Lake City, Monte Vista, New Liberty and Platte Valley were
the new members.
On October 21, 1889, the first annual meeting of
the Colorado Baptist State Convention was held, its jurisdiction now
covering only the State of Colorado. New churches were organized in that
year at Coryell, Del Norte, Alamosa, Santa Clara, Walsenburg, Fairview, La
Junta and Denver. New churches were built and dedicated at Sterling,
Delta, Coryell and Aspen.
In i8go the membership in the Baptist
churches of Colorado had grown to 3,273, of which 1,989 were in the Rocky
Mountain Baptist Association, 1,004 i" that of Southern Colorado, 205 in
the Gunnison Valley, and seventy-five in un-associated churches. The
Sunday school membership was 4,246.
On March 25, 1890, the
corner-stone of the Colorado Woman's College, a Baptist educational
institution, was laid. Mrs. J. A. Cooper, wife of Governor Cooper,
presiding at the exercises. Among those who spoke at this time were
ex-Governor John Evans and Doctor Slocum, of Colorado College. Rev. W. T.
Jordan was its first president. The detailed history of the institution is
covered in Chapter XXXI, on "Education."
On September 1, 1896, the
Colorado Midland Baptist Association was organized, with the following
church representation: Anaconda, Colorado City, Colorado Springs, First
and St. Johns, Cripple Creek, Eastonville, Fountain, Husted, Olive Branch
and Table Rock.
In 1895 the Baptist churches at Durango, Hooper,
Lockett, Monte Vista, Mosca, Saguache and Salida formed the San Luis
Valley Baptist Association. This was later again divided and in 1900 the
San Luis Association had churches at Centerview, Hooper, Mosca, Monte
Vista, Salida and Saguache. The new South- Western Association had members
at Durango, Pagosa Springs, Mancos and Dolores.
In 1900 the
Colorado State Baptist Convention comprised six associations. The Midland
Rocky Mountain Association, with churches at Ault, Beaver Valley, Boulder,
Denver (thirteen churches), Eastern, Eaton, Fort Collins, Golden. Greeley,
Holyoke, Longmont, Loveland, Louisville, Sterling, had a total membership
of 3,947. In 1912 the churches in the district were as follows:
Date of Organization
Beaver Valley 1901
Bijou Valley 1908
Capitol Hill 1894
Deer Trail 1913
First Swedish 1885
Fort Morgan 1906
Greeley (Swedish) 1906
Mount Hermon 1909
Mount Olivet 1891
West Park 1912
The value of church property in this
association in 1900 was $223,275.
In 1912 the total membership was
6,767; Sunday school enrollment, 5,891; value of church property,
The San Luis Association in 1900 comprised churches at
Center, Hooper, Monte Vista, Mosca, Saguache, Salida, Monte Vista
(German). Its total membership was 331. By 1912 there were churches at Del
Norte, Ortiz (Mex.), Alamosa, San Alamosa. Its total membership was 484.
The Gunnison Valley Association in 1900 had churches at Delta,
founded 1899; Grand Junction, founded 1899; Gunnison, founded 1900;
Hotchkiss, founded 1901; Lake City, founded 1898; Montrose, founded 1898;
Olathe, Eckert, Palisade, Plateau Valley, all founded 1900. Its total
church membership was 522, with 724 enrolled in its Sunday schools. The
church property was valued at $20,400. In 1912 there were new churches at
Pear Park, Cedaredge, Molina, Fruita, Paonia, Austin, New Castle, Bethel
and Coal Creek. Its total membership was 1,532.
Midland Association in 1900 had churches at Aspen, Anaconda.. Colorado
City, Colorado Springs (three), Cripple Creek, Colorado Springs (Swedish),
Fountain, Husted, Goldfield, Good Hope, Leadville and Victor. Its
membership was 1,550. Its church property was valued at $72,600. In 1912
there were new churches at Allbright, Bethel, Bijou, one more at Colorado
Springs, Flagler, Kanza, Prairie Home, Ramah, Shiloh, Vona. Total
membership, about sixteen hundred.
The Southern Baptist
Association in 1900 had churches at Caņon City, Florence, Fowler, Gardner,
N. M., La Junta, La Veta, Las Animas, Lamar, Peublo five, Rocky Ford and
Trinidad. The membership in 1900 was 1,602; Sunday school enrollment,
1,469. Church property was valued at $49,780. By 1912 there were new
churches at Hartman, Holly, Kiowa, Ordway, Springfield and Walsenburg. In
1912 the membership was 3,168; Sunday school enrollment, 2,522. Value of
church property, $133,870.
The Southwestern Association in 1900
had churches at Chromo, Dolores, Durango, Florida, Aztec, N. M., Pagosa
Springs, Telluride and Mancos. Its membership was 318; Sunday school
attendance, 279. Church property was valued at $6,770. In 19 12 it had new
churches at McElmo Caņon and Lebanon. Total membership 263.
Unassociated churches numbered seven, with a membership of 159.
1917 there were no Baptist churches in Colorado. These were divided by
districts as follows: Baca County, twelve; Gunnison Valley, fourteen;
Midland, twelve; Rocky Mountain, thirty-six; San Luis Valley, ten;
Southern, twenty-one; Southwestern, ten. The total membership was as
follows: Baca, 256; Gunnison Valley, 1,635; Midland, 1,650; Rocky
Mountain, 8,370; San Luis, 584; Southern, 3,810; Southwestern, 300. Total
16,605. Church property valuation was $987,700. The Sunday school
enrollment was 12,015.
History of Colorado
Source: History of Colorado, Wilbur
Fisk Stone, Editor, Volume I, Chicago, The S. J. Clarke Publishing
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