The Seventh-day Adventist church in Pueblo was organized in 1889, with 15 charter members. The building, a little white church with a steeple, was located in what was then Block U.
After about 25 years, our around 1941, the membership had outgrown the building, and it was decided to divide the congregation into two churches. One group purchased a building on South Union, now known as Colorado Avenue and it became known as Pueblo First. The other group, known as the the Pueblo Second, remained in the church in Block U until about 1920, when they moved the building on 714 West Arroya. Later, they built a beautiful little church on Claremont Avenue and became known as the Claremont Seventh-day Adventist Church.
The building that housed the Pueblo First church didn't look like much of a church. It was a long store-like building painted an unpleasant green on the outside. Inside, it was divided into three compartments. The first was used as the sanctuary the second was used for the children's department; while the third, in the extreme rear was made into a living apartment. Apparently, it was this apartment that Elder George Vandeman was born. His father was pastor of the church from about 1916 to 1919. This building is still standing and in use as an apartment building on 219 Colorado Avenue.
First Service in the Sanctuary (September 20th, 1975)
The first church school was started in this building, in 1919, using the primary room as a schoolroom. Miss Minne Hahn, Hilda Garrett's great aunt, was the first teacher.
The building was totally inadequate as a representation of God's temple, so in 1921, Elder B.W.Brown was sent to supervise the building of a new church. He was known for his ability along that line, and this ability stood him in good stead. At that, time, there were less than 100 members an about 90% of them were women and and children. It must have been a dreary prospect for the builder, and if his faith hadn't been very strong, he wouldn't even have attempted it.
The old building was immediately sold and a new building site was sought. Cars weren't so plentiful in those days, and most of the members rode to church on the street car; this it was imperative that the new church be built on the streetcar line. While the building site was being sought, the church met in a rented lodge hall on Union Avenue.
It was difficult to find a suitable site at a price that could be handled by so smaall a congregation, and many players arose for guidance. Early one morning, Dr. Butterbaugh, one of the elders, went to Elder Brown with an unusual story. Dr. Butterbaugh had had a dream in which he had seen more corner lots for sale.
They were directly on the streetcar line. The dream showed the surrounding buildings but no street names. He had a very strong impression that this was the site one which the Lord wanted the new church.
The two men got in the car and started traveling over the streetcar routes. Eventually, they came to the corner of 13th and Grand, and Dr. Butterbaugh immediately recognized the lots of his dreams. The lots were purchased and the building begun.
Bro. Walter carlson, a seasoned bricklayer, supervised the bricklaying. Everyone joined in the work, even the women and the older children, for both money and men were scarce. Sr. Rita Dunkel stated that her grandfather, William Hutton, helped with the building.
By the end of 1923, the building was ready for occupancy, and great was the rejoicing. The following September, the church school, which had not been in operation since the old building was sold, reopened in the basement of the new church. Mildred Sanders Priest was the teacher, and Gladys Davis Epple, a member, was one of the pupils.
It really wasn't a satisfactory location for a school as there was no playground. So after a few years, a building was purchases on Cheyenne Avenue, and the school was transferred to that location. Later, that building was sold and a new one was built on West Thirtieth Street.
Sometime around 1960, Eld. Bargas organized a Spanish church. Not having a church building of their own, them met in member homes and other locations. In 1965, while Elder Griswell was pastor, they united with Pueblo First and became a part of that body. And so the membership grew. In 1929 Elder Everson held an effort with 1000 people attending and 150 new members were added to the church.
At last it became evident to all that it was time to move on - to lengthen our cords and strengthen our stakes. In the fall of 1966, a committee was appointed to look for a suitable site for a new building. Elder Griswell, Bob Werner, Paul Miller, Paul Priest, and Gus Asher comprised this committee. After much searching and many prayers, a site was decided upon at the corner of Vinewood & O'Neal. On April 24, 1967, Eld. Wheeler from the Conference office supervised a banquet to set the project off.
This was going to another mammoth task, and a strong man was needed to head the project. As is ever the case in the times of need in the Lord's work, He raised up a strong man for this very purpose. Bob Werner was that man, and perhaps it can be said of him what Mordecai said to Esther, "Who can say but that God had brought your into the kingdom for just such a time as this."
In June of 1970, the First-Phase of the building began. Just two years later, on August 19, 1972, the Pueblo First Church left their old church home on Grand and met in the fellowship hall of the new church on O'Neal. It was with a bit of nostalgia on the part o many who had used the old church so long, but all were happy over the much-needed change.
Church School Teachers (1936)
It was now time to start the Second-Phase of the building program- the Sanctuary. In December, 1972, Elder Baughman headed another banquet to start the ball rolling, and on May 5, 1974, the Sanctuary was begun. On September 20, 1975, the first services were held in the beautiful building to be dedicated to the sacred worship of God. On December 1, 1977, just eleven years after the project began, the final payment was made.
Four pastors helped in the actual building project: Elder Griswell, Everett, Jordan, and Christensen. However, Pastor Gary Jensen, coming to pastor the congregation in December, 1975, helped to carry the project to completion - debt free by the projected date; and saw finishing touches added, such as the sign in front and the 3 angels on the outside of the building (both designed & built by Bob Warner), the carillon bells and the organ, furniture for the children's departments, and other items small maybe, but necessary to the comfort and beauty of the entire building.
Dickens-style Christmas is offered by Church group (1977)
The youth of the church gathered many tones of large lichen-covered rocks for the inside front walls and area behind the pulpit - making several trips to the mountains to get sufficient rocks. The Werner's built and donated the flowing waterfall, using some of these rocks. The primary department furnished plants for the planters. The organ was largely paid for by memorial funds per the plaque attached to it.
The King's Ladies sponsored and paid for a goodly share of the Carillon bell system. Many other members contributed other items as required for kitchen, etc. Some of Sr. Jesse Gett's paintings and hand-painted 3D visual aids are to be seen or used in various departments. Some contributions were made anonymously and remain only on the heavenly records. Probably, every active member had contributed something to the building and its facilities.
Among the first contributions for the new church was that made by Dorothy Campbell and Mary Gordon. The Trujillo family joined the church as a result of reading of the new-church building plans in the newspaper, put there not doubt by one of the church communications secretariats.
The church was finished and paid for because of the prayers, blood, sweat, and often tears of the faithful members, and today, we, the members of the congregation, join in saying from the bottom of our hearts, "Praise God from Whom all blessings flow," as we formally dedicate this Sanctuary to the sacred worship of the "God of our father whose Almighty hand leads forth in beauty... Our grateful songs before Thy throne arise. (His) love Divine be Thou our ruler, guardian, guide, and stay; Thy Word our Law; Thy path surest way; Thy true religion in our hearts increase."