One of Aspen’s longest running institutions is beginning a new era.The Aspen Community Church has shed its scaffolding and 2014 is its first year with a new roof and other structural improvements. Already, some say that’s had a real effect on what it’s like to spend time in the historic building. APR’s Elise Thatcher has more.
“It looks so different, it’s so much brighter! It just brightens my spirit, and I’ve heard other people say that.”
That’s Reverend Jane Keener - Quiat, who leads the congregation at the Aspen Community Church. She’s often called Pastor Jane.
“They had taken down the scaffolding down and the sun was shining, and I went ‘Wow!’ It’s a kind of a bright, peachy blow sandstone, you know?”
It’s been a long road to get there. The scaffolding was up for months. And it all began when church leaders got an an eye popping engineering report from experts. That was in 2010… and it showed the Church’s roof was holding far more weight that it was designed to. Again, Pastor Jane.
“And we said oh gosh-- and what does that mean? They said well, it could collapse. And our trustees said well, might we hear some noise before, would it be slow? And they said no, it would be sudden and catastrophic.”
So they decided to close the church for safety reasons, and start tackling the problem. It took almost two years and millions of dollars… for a new roof and repairs below it, around the sanctuary. Pastor Jane says it was a little scary at first...
“I had never been involved, in a capital campaign like this, so it was a daunting task, it was a bit frightening, but I felt like we had a team, and we had a community. And it took the team and the community to do this. People contributed who have never been in this church.”
And those extra people really made a difference-- while the congregation was able to raise most of the money without outside help… Pastor Jane says it couldn’t have been done it without other people in the community joining in.
Steve DeClute was Project Manager for William H Baker Construction, and he echoes that spirit of pitching in.
“This project was particularly enjoyable and rewarding, because the nature of the team that I worked within...And everyone was happy to participate. It being a community building, and it being a church.”
It all meant the sanctuary got some love as well. Again, Pastor Jane.
“We were able to patch the walls, we were able to put new plaster on. All new paint up there, and that made the room brighter. And not only that, the paint we used is a paint that is actually good for sound.”
And all of that together means… a new way to experience the Aspen Community Church.
“There’s a freshness to being able to worship here. That, as much as we loved it before, there’s a freshness to it now, that touches the spirit in a new way.”
There’s still work to be done. The renovation has a third phase, which would fix the balcony, the lighting system in the sanctuary, and other elements. Pastor Jane, who’s retiring at the end of June, says it’s possible they won’t start right away.
“We had such a push, and I think we need to rest just a little bit, before embarking on the rest of it.”
And some time, to appreciate the beginning of a new, brighter, era, at the Aspen Community Church.