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Beth-El Mennonite Church, completed 2006
During the early 1950s, some members of the First Mennonite Church of Colorado Springs felt that the congregation should provide a more contemporary evangelical witness to the larger community and that the witness of the church through Christian service should expand in the growing city. Concurrently, the postwar growth of the congregation, aided in part by former Civilian Public Service men and families who established permanent homes in the area, required expansion of facilities.

The newly-organized South Central Conference (Mennonite Church) congregation of 49 charter members (all of whom were former members of the First Mennonite Church) called Jess Kauffman as pastor. He had been serving as pastor of the First Mennonite Church of Colorado Springs. The new congregation held its first service on 7 October 1956, in the La Placita Room of the YWCA Building at the corner of Nevada and Kiowa Streets.  Kauffman remained as pastor of the new congregation until  September 1958, when he left to devote full time to administering Frontier Boys Village and Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp.

When the new congregation discussed a name, the choice narrowed down to “Bethel” and “Beth-El.” Aldine C. Brunk, a former missionary to India, apparently insisted that only the latter was truly Biblical and linguistically correct. Thus a congregational vote selected the Beth-El name in December 1956.

Beth-El Mennonite Church conducted its worship services in the Downtown Colorado Springs YMCA for one year. In September 1957 the congregation moved to the Knob Hill Community Center, where it met for some five years. In 1959 the  congregation, which had a membership of 52 and an average attendance of 60, began construction of a church building (based on plans patterned after the Glenwood Mennonite Church) on property that it had purchased at the corner of Yuma and Uintah Streets in a residential area on the east side of Colorado Springs. The laying of the corner stone for the new church building occurred on 18 December 1960. The first worship service took place in the new building on 6 March 1962, and the new structure was dedicated on 7 July 1963. At the latter service the congregation installed Darrel D. Otto as pastor, and he served in that capacity until 1968, thus giving the church long-term pastoral  leadership after a series of interim and short-term pastorates during 1958-63. The congregation built a church parsonage, which later became the Fellowship Hall, in 1963.  In 1961 the Beth-El congregation became a charter member of the newly-established Rocky Mountain Mennonite Conference.

During the late 1960s members of 1-W units in Colorado Springs and a Voluntary Service unit in Woodland Park worshiped regularly at Beth-El Mennonite Church, thus augmenting the congregation’s attendance.   The Beth-El congregation  continued to prosper with its membership reaching 110 by 1966, 90 (resident) and 27 (non-resident) by December 1970, and 102 (resident) and 36 (non-resident) by November 1980. In March 1982 the congregation, with a membership that had grown to 143, determined to encourage formation of a congregation in the Palmer Lake/Monument area north of Colorado Springs, and later that year when the Mountain Community Mennonite Church was established in Palmer Lake, 27 Beth-El members transferred their membership to the new congregation.

The Beth-El Mennonite Church continued to grow during the 1980s and 1990s.  Membership numbers for this period were: 1988 (151 – 122 Resident/29 Other); 1993 (148); and 1998 (173). By 1999 the Beth-El Mennonite Church, whose membership had grown to 174, required larger facilities to meet its congregational needs and extend its ministries.  In November the congregation purchased property at the intersection of Union Boulevard and Ranch Drive (near the former site of Civilian Public Service Camp #5) on which it built a new structure. The church’s new building was dedicated on 7 October 2006, the 50th anniversary of the congregation. The Beth-El congregation became a charter member of the Mountain States Mennonite Conference in 2006, and by 2007 the church had an average attendance of 155. In 2010 Mervin Birky served as Beth-El’s pastor and Mike Martin as associate pastor.

Contents

[edit] Bibliography

"A History of the Beth-El Congregation." Beth-El Mennonite Church. Web. 12 July 2007. http://home.pcisys.net/~bethel/bmc_history.html.

Unrau, Harlan D. In Pursuit of Land, Health and Mission:  A History of Mennonites in the Mountain States Region. Printed in Canada by Blitzprint, Inc., 2007.

[edit] Additional Information

Address: 4625 Ranch Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80918

Phone: 719-636-2716

Website: Beth-El Mennonite Church

Denominational Affiliations:

Mountain States Mennonite Conference

Mennonite Church USA

Beth-El Mennonite Church Ministers

Jess Kauffman 18 November 1956-7 September 1958 
Henry Benner (interim) 14 Sepember 1958- 1 February 1959 
Paul Wittrig  15 February 1959-25 February 1962 
Earl Yeackley (Interim)  11 March 1962- 18 November 1962 
Clifford King (Interim)  9 December 1962-30 June 1963 
Darrel Otto  7 July 1963- 28 July 1968 
Harvey Mitchell  15 December 1968- 28 February 1971 
Clifford King / Glenn Fink (Interim) 7 March 1971-30 May 1971 
Calvin J.King  6 June 1971-25 July 1976 
Wesley Janz (Interim)  August 1976-September 1976 
John Gingerich (Interim) October 1976-3 April 1977 
Darrel Otto (Interim)  June 1977-4 December 1977 
Cliff King (Board Chair)  December 1977-April 1978
Willard Conrad  May 1978-24 April 1983 
Orval Gingerich (Youth Minister) September 1978-10 August 1980 
Tim Detweiler (Youth Pastor) 1981-October 1982 
Glen Crago (Interim)  1 May 1983-26 August 1984
Cleon Nyce  2 September 1984-26 September 1993
Marlin Thomas (Interim)  3 October 1993-September 1995
Mervin Birky  September 1995 -
 Ruth Penner (interim) 12 May-11 August 2002
 Mike Martin (Associate Pastor)  March 10, 2009-

[edit] Maps

Map:Beth-El Mennonite Church (Colorado Springs, Colorado)


Author(s) Harlan Unrau
Date Published March 2010


[edit] Cite This Article

MLA style

Unrau, Harlan. "Beth-El Mennonite Church (Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2010. Web. 25 Jul 2014. http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Beth-El_Mennonite_Church_(Colorado_Springs,_Colorado,_USA)&oldid=91069.

APA style

Unrau, Harlan. (March 2010). Beth-El Mennonite Church (Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 25 July 2014, from http://gameo.org/index.php?title=Beth-El_Mennonite_Church_(Colorado_Springs,_Colorado,_USA)&oldid=91069.




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