Congregational United Church of Christ in Buena Vista
In 2020 Buena Vista CUCC celebrated its 140th birthday!
After gold was discovered in the Rocky Mountains in 1858, religious denominations sent missionaries to the gold fields and churches were organized in the mining camps. Gold was panned out in California Gulch when silver was discovered at what is now Leadville, Colorado. In 1879 there were 30,000 people in that camp, and a railroad was necessary. In February, 1880, the brand new town of Buena Vista found itself at the end of the rails being laid to the famous silver camp.
Rev. Joseph W. Pickett was the first missionary sent out by the Congregational Missionary Society to the fields which included Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico and South Dakota. Sadly, he was killed in a stagecoach accident on the west side of Weston Pass in November, 1897. The Rev. C. C. Creegan was sent to fill his place as superintendent.
From Superintendent Creegan’s Report read at the Congregational Association in Denver City, November 4, 1880:
“Buena Vista was the first point visited. Here I found a town three months old, with two thousand inhabitants, sixty saloons, several dance houses, etc. My first sermon was preached in a harness shop, with a saloon on both sides, and two saloons and a dance house directly opposite. At the first service I made arrangements for the formation of a church, which was fully organized two weeks later.”
The church was organized on the 18th of March, 1880, and on April 11, seventeen members were received by Rev. Creegan. The Buena Vista Land Company donated two lots, and in about six weeks a building 24×40 feet was erected. That little church building was dedicated on May 2, 1880.
It has been said, “It takes grace, grit and greenbacks to run a church and carry on the work of the Kingdom of God.” The Buena Vista church had grace and grit, but very few greenbacks.
CUCC now occupies it’s third building, which has a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. The building includes a kitchen, large fellowship hall and a number of Sunday School rooms. The property includes three acres of ground with a parsonage.
History provided by Ruby G. Williams, Church Historian, from a 100th Anniversary Sunday bulletin April 20, 1980.