Church marks silver anniversary |

Church marks silver anniversary

Lauren Glendenning
Vail CO Colorado
NWS gracious savior 1 KA 04-26-09

EDWARDS, Colorado ” Elmer and Bev Christiansan have been going to Gracious Savior Lutheran Church in Edwards, Colorado, since services were held in the music room at Battle Mountain High School in Eagle-Vail, Colorado, more than 25 years ago.

The church celebrated its silver anniversary Sunday with a special service and a family-style meal ” the Christiansans wouldn’t have missed it for anything.

Gracious Savior’s journey began in a high school auditorium ” Battle Mountain High School ” and now it’s beginning its second 25 years in a high school, said pastor Daniel Rohlwing, the church’s founder. The difference now is that the new high school, Vail Christian High School, is the church’s own school.

Gracious Savior built Vail Christian High School about a mile west of its church in 2006 and began holding its Sunday services in the school’s auditorium, known as Grace Auditorium, in March of this year.

“I guess it shows how we’re forever connected to education,” Rohlwing said.

Gracious Savior Lutheran Church built its first official church in Edwards in 1985, a time when Edwards was thought to be so far downvalley that nobody would bother commuting there, Rohlwing said.

“Now it’s right in the middle of everything,” Rohlwing said.

Bev Christiansan said that even though the church has changed its location a few times in its 25 years, its focus on the Bible and educating children has never suffered. She has always felt like the church is a part of her family, and rightfully so ” five generations of her family have attended Gracious Savior.

“We raised our four children here. … We know it’s a special place,” she said. “It’s the church with the open arms ” that’s what we try to be to the community.”

Gracious Savior recently bought a $1 million piece of land next to the high school ” it plans to build its new church there within the next couple of years.

The 25th anniversary included about 10 original members of the church. One couple, Randy and Renata Reiter, have since moved to Greeley, but they traveled through a late-winter storm to celebrate. The Reiters were happy to see the church had built a Christian high school in the valley ” part of the reason they moved was because they wanted their children to have a Christian education, and the valley lacked that opportunity at the high school level, Renata Reiter said.

“To see this church end up where it’s at ” wow,” she said.

Peter Widick, also an original member, can’t believe the evolution of the church, either. Gracious Savior baptized her children in the Battle Mountain High School auditorium. She helped build the original church just a mile away from its new home at the high school.

“From pick-axing rock to making room for water and sewer lines to painting and staining, everyone pitched in,” Widick said in a speech to the congregation Sunday. “And lo and behold, the walls went up and we had a church home.”

Pastor Jason Haynes, after leading an emotional service, led several prayers and smiled as he looked over the worshippers in the Grace Auditorium on Sunday.

“I don’t know what the next 25 years will bring for Gracious Savior,” Haynes said. “But I can’t wait to be a part of it.”

Community Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or

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