The Beginnings of Christ Fellowship Church
When the Israelites were beginning to build the temple to the Lord, the prophet Zechariah in chapter 4 verse 10 said, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin…” In 1982, after helping to launch a new Evangelical Presbyterian Church in South Denver called Cherry Creek Presbyterian, Ed and I moved back to Fort Collins. After several months of prayer, the Lord spoke clearly to us that we were to plant a church in Fort Collins. We asked the Lord to give us a vision. His response was that the building of this church would be “like going up a mountain” and he would show us the way step by step. Climbing a mountain can be long and difficult at times, but there is joy, new learning, and development of character as you persevere in the Lord’s work.
Fort Collins Fellowship was what we called ourselves when we met with that first Bible study group in our living room in the fall of 1982. Our son Grant was a few weeks old and Jeremy was 2 ½. The denomination was barely two years old, so there wasn’t any financial support or help available for a church plant. We pioneered the church by contacting our friends from previous ministry experiences. Within a few weeks we were receiving funds in the mail that covered all of our living expenses. Some people gave a onetime gift others gave monthly gifts. It was exciting to go to the mail box and for over 6 months we lived on faith. The total amount we received each month only varied by $15.
It was amazing and faith building to see the Lord’s provision and confirmation of his call to this church and his call to Ed to be in full time ministry.
Through the years we met in a variety of schools and rented facilities. Our first meeting as an established church was at Boltz Junior High School. We were no longer a Bible study fellowship at this point and decided we needed a new name. Christ Fellowship Church was our choice because Christ and his mission for the world was our focus as we came together to fellowship as a church body. We met in the New Creations exercise club on Mason St. for several years and then met in several local grade schools including McGraw and Linton Elementary Schools. At each location there was always a lot of work involved with hauling in chairs, Christian Education toys and materials, as well as setting up sound equipment for our Sunday service each week. We often joked that we probably wore out several different congregations along the way.
Over the years many people willingly served the Christ Fellowship by teaching Sunday school, setting up, greeting, singing on the praise team, serving as deacons and elders and hosting small group gatherings. My mother, Ilene Shields, hosted a variety of meetings in her home including the intercessory prayer team which met in her home every Tuesday night for 15 years. Our final meeting place before building our current church building was in the chapel at Good Samaritan Nursing Home. At this point in time, we were a small remnant with a big vision but God had spoken to our hearts and “God will find a way where there seems to be no way.” He gave us a plan to build a church building that would house a child development center. He brought along the right leaders who could work as a team, with Ed’s leadership, to bring that vision to pass.
Today, you see the fruition of what God began over 30 years ago. In 2014 we celebrate 10 years of ministry in our current building and are so grateful to those whose faith and labor helped build our ministry in SE Fort Collins. We celebrate all the lives that have been touched, saved, healed, and encouraged because of their participation at CFC. We celebrate all who have come into a new life of faith because of our ministries to children and youth. We celebrate the growth and maturity our young people and adults have experienced through various Bible Studies, small groups and Ed’s outstanding teaching/preaching through the years. We celebrate the work of the Spirit as we have joined together in great times of worship and praise. We celebrate all the opportunities we have had to make a difference around the world through prayer, short term missions, missions giving, and acts of service.
Before this church was conceived, the Lord gave Ed a dream that he would be the pastor of a church in Northern Colorado that would be “set apart” for God’s purposes. When you look back through the history of Christ Fellowship Church, you see that God has used this church to affect lives for Christ both here and abroad. Ed (April 3, 1953 - February 5, 2010) isn’t here to lead us into the next phase of the ministry of Christ Fellowship Church, but he planted many good seeds. It’s up to God to bring the harvest and it’s up to the rest of us to do the work of the ministry and to point people to Jesus.
Ed and I didn’t despise the small beginnings and the Lord rejoiced to see the work begin. But, the story of this church doesn’t end here. There is much need for Christ and as the song says, “greater works are yet to be done here.” So I celebrate the past with you. And I look forward to what God will accomplish in the future of Christ Fellowship Church.
For His Glory,