New Life Church finds new home
Established in Minturn, the church was at 461 Main St. for nearly 56 years on a lot that originally cost around $300. But recently the congregation was approached with the opportunity to take over the spacious church building at 480 Nottingham Road in Avon.
“We are just excited about this opportunity,” said Dan Matney, senior pastor at New Life for the past five years. “What this has done for the people in our church is, I think, going to help us see ourselves as a greater part of the whole valley. We really see this as a historic thing.”
Eagle County has changed radically since New Life was established. The church predates Vail, and the era of the “world-class” ski resorts dominating life in the valley.
“The church itself was built in 1948, but the congregation began in 1946,” said Matney. They met in a tent for the first two years.”
The church building has become a familiar part of downtown Minturn, and Matney said the decision to move out of the space was not an easy one.
“I thought to myself, “Are we being faithful to the vision of our founding fathers in Minturn?'” he said. “But back in 1946, they established a church in the center of everything. Minturn was the center of the mining, railroad and agriculture industries. Now we have been given the opportunity to be back in the center of the valley. We are back in the center, like they were in the beginning.”
New Life is part of the international Assembly of God faith. It is a charismatic Protestant denomination that began in 1914. There are more than 50 million church members worldwide, including 2 million members in the United States.
Mexico is one of the church’s fastest-growing regions and locally, New Life has tapped into that trend.
“We have had a lot of Assembly of God Mexican nationals who wanted to worship in a denomination they were familiar with,” said Matney. In 1998, he traveled to Mexico to meet with Mexican church officials and to request help in meeting the community needs. In March 1999, New Life launched a Spanish-language ministry under the leadership of Pastor Josue Rubio.
The church has also reached down valley with regular services held at the Gypsum Town Hall.
With 40 members and worship attendance in the 200-person range, Matney said the new church building promises a myriad of opportunities to the New Life congregation.
“From here we are going to be able to expand our community services,” said Matney. “It’s going to help us to fulfill our mission. And the mission of our church is to be a spiritual, social and benevolent force in the world.”
The Avon church building sits on a prominent hillside that is easily visible to travelers along Interstate 70. From inside the building, huge picture windows frame a view of Beaver Creek and Nottingham Lake. Matney said that weather permitting, the congregation plans to celebrate its new digs in a particularly fitting way on Independence Day.
“This is an excellent place to watch the Avon fireworks from,” he said. With that in mind, the congregation plans a July 4 parking lot party to maximize its front-line, fireworks-viewing locale.
That is, if there’s an Avon fireworks show this year. Town officials have said they will make a decision on whether to cancel the fireworks, in light of the currently extreme fire conditions, in the coming days. But if not this year, then next, the display will happen again.
New Life celebrated its building dedication last weekend with several of the congregation’s former pastors participating in the event. A community open house will be scheduled in July.
Sunday worship services are held at 10:45 a.m. at the new Avon church, preceded by a Christian education hour at 9:30 a.m. Youth services are held at 6 p.m. Spanish language worship is held in Avon at 1 p.m. Sunday. Worship services at Gypsum Town Hall are held at 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
New Life Assembly of God Church can be reached at 827-4102.
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