Beth-El Mennonite Church (Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA)
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.
"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.
Address: 4625 Ranch Drive, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80918
Website: Beth-El Mennonite Church
Beth-El Mennonite Church Ministers
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MLA style: Unrau, Harlan. "Beth-El Mennonite Church (Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA)." Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. March 2010. Web. 24 May 2013. http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B4842.html.
APA style: Unrau, Harlan. (March 2010). Beth-El Mennonite Church (Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA). Global Anabaptist Mennonite Encyclopedia Online. Retrieved 24 May 2013, from http://www.gameo.org/encyclopedia/contents/B4842.html.