First Presbyterian Church will mark its 150th anniversary this year.
In 1870 at the urgent invitation of Pueblo pioneer rancher, John Irvine, the missionary Rev. Sheldon Jackson was transported from Colorado City (now Colorado Springs) to Pueblo aboard an ox driven wagon to start a church in Pueblo. After a door-to-door survey by Jackson, and his finding a meeting place in the county’s courthouse, he established his first western Presbyterian church on Feb. 27, 1870, in Pueblo.
Jackson eventually would establish over 100 churches, 31 presbyteries and six synods traveling almost 1 million miles. Most notably Jackson’s accomplishments include becoming the first general superintendent of education for Alaska from 1885-1908 and laying the foundation for Alaska to become a state. His advocacy for Alaska was so prolific that politicians of his time in Washington, D.C., often referred to Alaska as the Presbyterian Territory.
Jackson and the early pioneers’ vision of a vibrant church in Pueblo lives on 150 years later.
Any given week finds over 20 community organizations using the church facilities, said church spokesperson Jody Voss. Also, the church’s commitment to support the efforts of Pueblo’s numerous not-for-profit corporations has been a priority throughout its contemporary history. First Presbyterian along with other Downtown churches started the Pueblo Cooperative Care Center, 326 W. Eighth St., which it continues to support. Most recently, the church continues to expand its faithful works in the community by hosting the Veterans’ Stand-down, community-wide Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, and providing a monthly worship service for families with developmental disabilities called “Access Worship.”
In a news release, Voss outlined the church's plans to mark the 150th annivesary.
• A 150th Anniversary Task Force was established by church leadership to plan an array of events throughout the year to celebrate and reflect the history and traditions of the church. The community is invited and encouraged to attend all the church’s anniversary events.
• A community open house is planned from 12:15 to 2:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at the church, 220 W. 10th St. Entertainment will be provided by blue-grass band, Fireweed; a commemorative service will begin at 10 a.m. Everyone attending the church service and open house is encouraged to wear period-piece clothing from any of the past 150 years.
• Other events planned include a historical-themed Easter egg hunt, Victorian fashion show and tea, a Mother’s Day tribute, old-fashioned church picnic, special music performances, participation in parades of the Colorado State Fair, historical displays from church archives, holiday caroling with the community and a celebratory banquet with silent auction in December.
•The church also will be creating a historical book that chronicles its 150 years. And a short documentary will be unveiled this month.
•The church desires to create a special year of fellowship that is invitational for community participation. Sharing their special church community and God’s love; reflecting “hope, hospitality and healing in the heart of the City.”
Church leadership asserts that the 150th anniversary celebration is not just about fun and frivolity; it is about God’s presence in fellowship with each other in church and community, said Voss. First Presbyterian’s anniversary celebration provides multiple opportunities throughout the year to highlight its faithful's good works, expand their presence in Pueblo, share their commitment to the teachings of Jesus, and spread His love.
The church invites the community to support its 150th celebration by underwriting or sponsorship of an event or activity, giving a monetary gift or solicit and donating item(s) to the silent auction, or remembering it in planned giving.
Contact Pam Johnson or Voss regarding your willingness to help; or for specific information about the events planned, contact Annette at the church office, 542-7322.