Three decades of faith

South Routt Bible Church celebrates anniversary, expects many more

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— Many people think turning 30 signals the end of an era. For the South Routt Bible Church, it signals the beginning of one.

The church, located south of Oak Creek, began as an idea in 1974. More than thirty years later, it has blossomed into a way of life for many South Routt residents.

Pastors Tom and Kim Harves said their Christian, non-denominational, Bible-believing church is more than just a weekly gathering of South Routt residents - it's a family.

"We're doing this anniversary celebration to commemorate our 10 years here, as well as the church's 30 years, but more than that, it's been an opportunity to look back over the course of the last three decades to see how many people you've touched and how you've touched their lives," Tom Harves said. "That's what it's all about."

The Harveses, along with longtime South Routt Bible Church-goers Phil and Carol Coleman, are eager to celebrate the church's anniversary for that reason.

"It's like a big reunion. It's going to be a time for us to catch up," Phil Coleman said.

The Colemans have attended the church on and off throughout its 30 years, and they have been steady congregation members since the early 1980s.

"It's going to be nice to see everybody," Carol Coleman said.

The Harveses said the Sept. 24 service will be two hours long to give attendees ample opportunity to share stories or memories of the church with the congregation.

Founding pastor Carl Koester also will attend the service. Over 100 invitations have been sent to current and former congregation members encouraging them to attend the celebration or send their memories if they cannot attend.

Residents of the community who did not receive an invitation also are encouraged to attend the special Sunday service and the potluck barbecue in Oak Creek, Tom Harves said.

"It's open to the community. Anyone with any interest at all can come to anything they want," Kim Harves added.

The Harveses are expecting a good turnout, which will give current congregation members the chance to meet those who have moved, and for old friends to come together.

"The one thing that I think is unique about our church is that we really try to emphasize fellowship. The thing that people enjoy about our church is that we take the time to visit with (the congregation) and get to know them," Kim Harves said.

Many members of the church identify the church's fellowship as one of the main reasons they attend, Tom Harves said.

"The thing we hear over and over from people who come to church here or don't go to church anywhere, is that they know we care. When you have people going through struggles, which every community does, they know that the people in their own community care," he said.

Although many things have changed for the South Routt Bible Church over the years, its fundamental principle to care about one another has not.

The South Routt Bible Church began as an idea in 1974 but soon grew when Koester moved to Oak Creek in 1979 to assume the position of pastor after the church's first pastor, Dean Nereson, died tragically in an airplane accident.

The church building was erected in the early 1980s, and it moved to its current location off Colorado Highway 131 in 1982.

The church offers many programs, including children's and adult Bible school; fellowship time after services with breakfast; Horsemanship Bible Camp in the summer; and a youth program for students in grades kindergarten through six.

"The building may be changing physically, but so are we. The people that come here now are different than they were 30 years ago," Phil Coleman said.

Tom Harves agreed.

"We try to meet the needs of the community. It's not jut singing hymns about how great the Lord is anymore," he said. "We will be here another 30 years. Maybe not Kim and I, but the church will be here."

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