Our  History
 

God’s Call

 

The vision for Gateway Baptist Church began in 1982, when Jim Rice was a junior in a Church Planting class taught by Dr. Otis Holmes, the director of Church Planting at Bob Jones University.  That same year Jim met DeAnn through a mutual friend and they began dating.  Jim had enrolled in BJU with a desire from the Lord to “start a church from scratch.”  Through Dr. Holmes and various other church planters, Jim learned the fundamentals of church planting.

 

Throughout Jim’s college training, several Colorado pastors visited the University and encouraged young preacher boys to consider church planting in Colorado.  In the church planting class, all the students did research projects and gathered information about various cities across the country.  Jim chose to do one of his projects on Loveland in which he did the market research for planting a church in the area.  The project was based on calculations and projections concerning population, number of churches, etc.  On paper, Loveland seemed to be a great place to begin a new church.  Another region with church planting needs was the northeast.  Jim spent the summer of 1983 in Massachusetts and determined that was not the region to which the Lord was calling him. 

 

Sensing the Lord’s leading toward Colorado, Jim and DeAnn (not yet engaged) met with the BJU Church Planting Board and were approved to have University support for their church planting plans.  Because of their extensive college debt, the board did recommend that they pay off their loans before attempting to begin the church.  They felt the challenge of a new ministry would be very difficult with the added burden of debt.

Jim was graduated in 1985 and returned to Pennsylvania to work and pay off school debts.  Following DeAnn’s graduation in 1986, Jim and DeAnn were married and they both continued to work to pay off school debts.  The Lord blessed them greatly and in three and a half years, the Lord allowed them to retire over $20,000.00 in college debt.

 

In August 1990, Jim and DeAnn visited Colorado and Loveland for the first time for a 10-day survey trip.  They counseled with Pastor Matt Olson and other area pastors to become better acquainted with church planting in the region.  Everything looked promising for a new church in Loveland and the previous research proved to be accurate.

The Rices believed that there truly was a need for a new church to be planted in Loveland.  Although willing to begin this work, the Rices wanted to await the Lord’s definite call before taking further action.  During a church service in their home church in October 1990, the Lord specifically called Jim to begin a church in Loveland. 

 

During the next few months, the Rices took care of many important details.  Jim and DeAnn both trained others to take over their positions of employment.  A great deal of correspondence and traveling was done to attempt to raise the needed funds to cover the expenses for the new church. 

 

The Rices witnessed the Lord answering prayer, as churches and individuals promised financial and prayer support for the Lord’s work.  For the first two years, approximately $2,200.00 per month was promised and given to our church through BJU, other churches and individuals.  Our deepest gratitude is extended to all those who sacrificed to help our church get started.

 

In April of 1991, Jim was officially ordained to be a pastor by a council in their home church.  The Rices also used this time to prepare a brochure for the new church.  The name initially chosen for the church was Grace Baptist Church, but the Rices were counseled to choose a name that was unique to the region.  Since Loveland’s theme was “The Gateway To The Rockies”, Gateway Baptist Church seemed like an excellent choice. 

 

The Rices moved to Loveland on the last day of July 1991.  They didn’t know a single person in the city, but they knew that the Lord had called them to begin a new work and that He would direct their paths.

 

Both Jim’s and DeAnn’s parents were supportive of the Rice’s move, believing it to be more important that Jim and DeAnn be in the center of the Lord’s will than that they live in the same town. 

 

Church Planting 101

 

After arriving in Loveland, Pastor Rice arranged to hold Sunday services at Conrad Ball Middle School for the first six months.  Wednesday evening services would be held in the Rice’s apartment.  They put the finishing touches on the church brochure and started canvassing.  Although the Rices were completely alone in this situation, the Lord was very gracious in helping them fight discouragement and keeping them excited about the prospects of the ministry. 

 

For the first three to four weeks, they canvassed about 150 homes per day.  As a result of canvassing, 16 families expressed an interest in being a part of the church.  Three weeks prior to the first service, the Rices held an informational meeting about the new church, but no one attended.  The following week Pastor Rice again visited the families and encouraged them to attend another informational meeting.  Again, no one came.  They did more canvassing and one person attended their third and final informational meeting.  They were certainly happy to have the one.

 

During the weeks before the services began, Jim and DeAnn attended services at Tri-City Baptist Church in Arvada and other area churches.  Pastor Olson asked if any of the Tri-City families would be willing to spend six months with the Rices, helping to plant the church.  Bill and Shalyn Roach and their three young children answered the call.  The Lord had provided a pianist and a song leader!  Driving up to Loveland from Wheat Ridge each Sunday, the Roaches sacrificed greatly to help our church get started.  The church family really appreciated their service and dedication in the beginning days of Gateway.

 

On September 15, 1991, six weeks after the Rices moved to Loveland, the first service was held.  On that first Sunday morning, 10 people attended the service:  Pastor and DeAnn, the Roach family, the person who attended the informational meeting, and a couple from Loveland. 

 

At the Sunday evening service, 20 people attended, including several people from area churches who were curious about this new work.  For the next six months, Gateway averaged between 20 and 30 people each Sunday. 

 

Taco, Anyone?

As the church finished their first six months at Conrad Ball Middle School, the Lord provided an opportunity to make a move to a more permanent meeting place.  A church building on Lincoln Avenue (just south of the Taco Bell) had been vacated and the Lord opened the door for us to assume the lease at that building.  The rent for this new building, which we could use seven days a week, was similar to what we had been paying for Sunday use of the school.  The church voted to move and rallied together to refurbish the facility.

The new facility needed a lot of cleaning and maintenance, but our church family was up to the challenge.  The Lord blessed with talent, materials, time and skills that only He could provide in His timing and grace.  The church was new and on a tight budget, but the Lord met all the needs of the church through His power.  Church attendees included several painters, a carpet installer, an interior decorator, and a dedicated group of people willing to do hard work.  Every single person who regularly attended our services helped at the workdays to prepare the building for services.  What unity!  The early days were days of great faith.

Connected to the church was a parsonage, so the Rices rented the turn of the century four-bedroom house.  Needless to say, living next door to Taco Bell offered many new experiences.  The constant barrage of car stereos and drive-thru noise added another new dimension to parsonage living.

 

On April 19, 1992, Gateway Baptist Church was officially organized with 31 charter members. 

 

The church saw more growth at the Lincoln Avenue location.  Praise the Lord for the families and individuals who were willing to be “pioneers” in our early days.  Children’s’ Sunday School classes were very small but the Lord gave us faithful teachers and students. 

 

While at this facility, most of the outside financial support for the church expired and our church became more and more responsible for our own expenses.  Although there were some tight times, the Lord allowed us to always pay our bills on time. 

After two years at the Lincoln Avenue facility, Gateway received a letter from the organization that owned the building (Pillar of Fire).  The letter stated that Pillar of Fire had other plans for their building and our lease would not be extended at the end of the year.  This little push was of the Lord.  Gateway had grown as much as it could in this facility.  We began to look for another place in which to hold services temporarily and for land on which to build in the future.  At that time, the church was averaging 45–60 people in attendance on Sunday mornings.

 

Since the Rices had been renting the parsonage connected to the church building, they also needed to find a home at the same time.  1994 was a very busy year of searching and praying.  Homes and properties were selling in hours, not days or weeks, in the tight realty market.

 

“It Can’t Be Done.”

 

Not words of encouragement, especially when spoken by the banker with whom you are discussing the possibility of a loan to purchase land.  Pastor Rice was told the church didn’t have enough money, we didn’t have a long enough credit history, and we would have to have members personally guarantee the church loan. The market was extremely tight and land was at a premium.  At the time, it looked like buying land wasn’t going to happen any time soon.

 

Despite the bleak prospects, the church continued to pursue locating property because we felt peace of the Lord to do so.  In July of 1994, after looking at dozens of sites and making several offers that were rejected, the Lord opened a door.   A friend of the church who was a broker heard that the property on First Street and Taft Avenue was going to be put on the market soon.  The property wasn’t listed on the market yet. 

 

The First Bank of Littleton owned the land and they had recently been purchased by Bank One and were under pressure to liquidate foreclosure properties.  How wonderful of the Lord to give us first hand knowledge of the sale before “For Sale” signs were put up and we were lost in the crowd of offers.

 

On a Friday in July in 1994, Pastor called a group of men of the church to meet at First Street and Taft Avenue to look at the land.  After viewing the 9.5 acres of land, discussing it, and praying about it, the men recommended to the church that we buy the land.  The next Sunday, the church voted unanimously to pursue purchasing the property and an offer was drafted that evening.  When the property was placed on the market Monday morning, our offer was made and accepted that morning!

Within an hour of accepting our full price offer ($95,000.00), another offer was made at twice the asking price, yet the Lord allowed Gateway’s offer to stand.  Within days there were two other offers on the property, one at full price from a local church and one from Habitat for Humanity.  Others had definite interest in the property, but the Lord had given us the opportunity to make the first offer.  By God’s grace, we were able to hear about the property before it was actually placed on the market.

 

The realtor who had listed the property was quick to tell Pastor of the larger offer in an attempt to discourage Gateway from pursuing the property.  However, the Lord had already won that victory for us.  The banker (prepared by God) was committed to working with us and pursuing our offer to its end before he would even look at another offer.  This was so commendable especially since his bank had never given a loan to a church before and Gateway only had $10,000.00 in the bank, not even enough for the down payment!

 

The Windows Of Heaven Opened

When the contract was accepted, September was set for the closing date.  During the next few months, we saw the Lord do great and mighty things on our behalf.  Pastor wrote letters to all the churches and individuals who had supported the church in the first two years to tell them of the opportunity.  The Rices also drove to Tennessee and Ohio to personally visit several churches and share with them the opportunity that Gateway had.  The Lord opened hearts in those churches. 

 

One church loaned us $5,000.00 with no interest on a five-year note.  Others literally gave us thousands of dollars for the purchase of the property.  God had prepared their hearts!  Within a three-month period, a total of over $14,000.00 was given to Gateway through other churches that wanted to help us purchase the property. 

 

What the Lord did through our church family was even more amazing!  Within that same three months, our church family held two special offerings.  In 1994 Gateway’s attendance was generally 50 to 60 people on Sunday mornings and the weekly offering was typically $700.00 to $800.00.  Our first “Promised Land Offering” was $4,000.00 and a second offering five weeks later was $6,000.00.  Gateway’s financial part in raising the needed funds for the down payment was an outpouring of God’s grace. 

 

During those few months, the church family prayed continually for the Lord’s direction.  We prayed that the Lord would stop the transaction if this was not the land He had for us.  As we watched, the Lord so miraculously opened doors there was no doubt that this property belonged to Gateway.  We saw a miracle performed by God through His people.

 

Because of the Lord’s provision, we went to the closing at the end of September with the $30,000.00 for the down payment, and we also had $10,000.00 in the bank for property expenses, surveys, and engineering expenses. 

 

We knew that the Lord has given us a wonderful piece of property.  After our closing, another church in town offered to trade us our land for their completed building and site.  This came as quite a surprise to us, but their site was land-locked inside a neighborhood and they recognized the possibilities at the Taft Avenue site.  They told Pastor, “Your site is one of the hottest in town.”

With traffic flows of 20,000 cars a day and 1058 feet of frontage on a main thoroughfare, our land truly is an ideal location.  The Lord had provided us with an easy-to-find and recognizable location. 

The purchasing of our land was a great time to observe the Lord’s great power and to stretch our faith.  We knew the Lord had exciting plans ahead.  During this time the ministries of Gateway continued to grow.  New Sunday School classes were added, our missions program was growing, and the church’s financial stability was being realized. 

 

Growing Room

 

After closing on the property in September 1994, the search for a new temporary meeting place became our top priority.  We had to be out of the Lincoln Avenue location by the end of December so we combed the city for a place to hold services.  Rental properties ranged from $800.00 to $2,000.00 per month.  With a new loan payment, Gateway could not afford that kind of expense.

 

We were rejoicing in what God had already done and were looking to the future for more of His great works.  How would God provide?

In the fall of 1994, Pastor Rice contacted the pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and asked if they had ever rented their facility for Sunday use.  He was told that they had rented it out in the past for $625.00 a month.  While that was the least expensive we had found, we still could not afford that cost each month.  The pastor of the SDA Church asked Pastor Rice to tell the SDA board what Gateway could afford and the SDA would consider it.  Our church then wrote a letter to the SDA Church asking if they would rent their facilities to us for Sunday mornings and evenings for $300.00 per month.  Their board approved our request.  The Lord was still at work!

 

Having just purchased our land, we were unsure how long it would take us to move into a future building.  The SDA Church was willing to leave our agreement open ended.  We told them it would probably be over a year at least.  The SDA Church was willing to be patient.  They didn’t know how much patience that would take, when one year turned to five years! 

We were so pleased to have a nice auditorium with padded pews and a piano and organ!  The SDA Auditorium could seat triple what the Lincoln Avenue building could, so we had room to grow again!  On our first Sunday at the new location, about 75 people attended the service.  The pews looked sparse at first, but within a few years we were wishing for more room.  At the end of our stay at the SDA building, several Sunday School classes met in hallways of the church basement.  We definitely needed more space!

 

Let’s Get Creative!

 

During the five years we rented the SDA building on Sundays, we found many different places for our Wednesday evening prayer meetings.  On Wednesday evenings, we jokingly called ourselves Nomads.   We met in various homes, but that was always crowded.  In summers, we often met at local parks.  Once a month, we would have a potluck meal together in a park before Prayer Time. 

 

Desiring to begin an AWANA ministry for our growing group of children, we rented Sarah Milner Elementary School on Wednesday evenings for two years.  Their gymnasium was perfect for our AWANA club, and our Prayer Time was held in other rooms within the school.  The rent also fit our budget:  $8 per evening!  After two years, we were compelled to stop using the school in order to facilitate construction of our building. 

For over a year we used a bakery that was closed in the evenings.  The owners allowed us to eat whatever was leftover from the day so this was a favorite spot.  We teased that within a few months it would be obvious who was regularly attending prayer time because of their expanding waistline. 

“Flexible” would be a wonderful description of our church family during this time.  There were many opportunities for fellowship and friendship and we rejoiced with each new venue for our Prayer Time together.  The need to frequently move Prayer Time may have seemed like a great inconvenience to some churches, but our church family just considered it part of the adventure of Church Planting.  The Lord had given us a group of people with genuine love and concern for each other. 

We also occasionally met on the property and prayed for the Lord to give us wisdom as we sought to build.  Wherever we met, we were praying for the Lord to allow us to develop the land He had given us.  We upheld Pastor Rice and the development committee in prayer as they dealt with city code and endless red tape. 

 

The Office

 

Although it was a great blessing to have a permanent location for our Sunday services, another very real need was a place for a church office.  The home the Rices had purchased did not have the spare room. 

 

Pastor contacted an acquaintance that owned Universal Communications, a business in town.  This Christian businessman had an empty office in his building that he was willing to rent for $200.00 per month.  While Pastor continued looking for office space, the man called the following week and offered the office to the church for $50.00 per month.  However, when Pastor went to finalize the arrangements and get a key, the owner said he had another change of heart.  If our church would pray regularly for his business, he would provide the office space rent-free!  We certainly agreed to that and Universal Communications was on our prayer sheet for the five years they loaned us space.  Praise the Lord for His preparations in the heart of this Christian businessman.

With the limited space it was difficult for anyone to help with the office work.  During these years, Pastor Rice carried most of the burden of creating bulletins and all the handouts for the church.  This new task, added to his full schedule of sermon preparation and laboring over building plans with city planners and engineers, made for a very busy Pastor!

 

Building And Land Development

 

In 1995 a group of nine men were appointed to the development committee and began the process to create a basic design for the building and a master plan for the site.  These men struggled through red tape and City negotiations for more than two years to draft a plan for the church to review. 

All the members of Gateway were then given the opportunity to have input about the construction and design of our new building.  This task was taken very seriously so as to avoid errors in property use and building design.  A great deal of research went into needs analysis and planning to meet the present needs and beyond.  On several occasions the members all met in small groups in the homes of the deacons to make suggestions and recommendations for the facility and property plans.  The committee then incorporated the input into the designs for property and building. 

 

A multiple phased plan was established to prepare for the funding needed to implement the plans the committed had established.  God’s leading was evident in all of the process and the church was kept informed of the developments as they occurred.  The committee prayed together regularly that God would provide wisdom in decisions and that the Lord would clearly stop any area of planning that did not represent His plans.  We saw the Lord provide affirmations to the planning and answers to our prayers in very specific ways during this time.  Truly, the Lord was in this project.

In an attempt to pay off our land loan and raise the needed money to begin our building, we placed the northern portion of our land for sale in 1995.  After many months without any offers, we decided that must not be in the Lord’s plan.  However, after two years, a broker came to us saying someone had interest in the southern portion of our property. 

At the time there was a large irrigation ditch dividing the southern 3.3 acres from the rest of the land.  We had investigated ways to use all of our land, but discovered that the easement for the irrigation ditch isolated the southern portion of our property.  If we built on the southern portion, it could never be connected to the northern portion.  Also a very costly bridge would have to be built across the ditch.  There was simply no way that our church could develop that land, so we voted to sell that portion and save ourselves from that tremendous expense.  The Lord had provided the extra land so that it could be sold later and help offset building costs.

 

In 1997 a developer purchased the southern 3.3 acres from us for $150,000.00!  Bear in mind that we purchased all 9.5 acres for $95,000.00.  The Lord is so good!  All of these funds were used to help provide utility extensions and street improvements that would total more than $150,000.00

 

After two years of land loan payments, we made paying off our loan a priority and held two Land Loan Payoff Offerings in 1997.  The Lord provided in a miraculous way for the Payoff Offerings.  The final $48,000.00 was paid off during the first eight months of the year. 

 

During these years we were also budgeting large amounts of money to our savings account for our future building.  When we started our site development in August 1998, we had approximately $280,000.00 on hand to cover all of the pre-construction expenses and site development expenses that occurred from August 1998 thru January 1999.  We did not have to borrow any money through our construction loan until the steel was being erected for the building in March.  Through continued generous giving, we were able to put a total of $315,000.00 of our own funds into our project instead of having a larger loan.

The Golden Shovel

On a frigid day in January 1999, the church family huddled together as Pastor Mowen led us in singing “To God Be The Glory” and Pastor Rice lifted the first shovel full of dirt from the frozen ground.  Our hearts were full that day.  Such a great opportunity and a great task were ahead of us!  The thought of accomplishing all that was before us was overwhelming.

 

After choosing two different builders for our building, one who passed away the week after we hired him and one who developed cancer soon after we met with him, the Lord led us to the person He had in mind all the time.  One of our members, Ed Dungan, had extensive experience in construction and could be available on site every day.  This arrangement allowed things to move along smoothly and also allowed us to do a lot of the work ourselves, saving tens of thousands of dollars! 

 

Over the winter, the floor was poured for the building and the steel beams were placed.  By April, our men were ready to frame the building.  A dozen or more men took vacation and spent dawn to dusk laboring on the building.  Others came before and after work for the next three to four weeks.  The ladies of the church delivered meals for lunch and dinner all month so the men could continue working.  On site we placed a mobile home that served as our construction office, cafeteria, and apparently a pleasant home for mice (i.e. Ralph). 

 

The weather almanacs will confirm what the men already know.  1999 had a very wet spring!  “Rice Lake” and “Mowen Pond” were always full.  Most of the travel on the site had to be by 4×4.  At times, work had to stop because no one could get into the site.  At other times, the men four-wheeled in Pastor’s diesel truck from the trailer to the building.  This was probably the highlight for some of the men. 

The men experienced tremendous unity and fellowship.  As in Nehemiah 4:6, “the people had a mind to work.”  A doctor in town questioned who was framing in our building because it was obvious to him that we had abundant help and that they worked 18 hours a day.  What a testimony to our community!  A great deal was accomplished each day.  By the sixth day, the men were framing in the second floor!

Another very real blessing during the project was the safety the Lord provided.

Very early on the second morning of framing, strong winds started to blow out the south wall of the auditorium.  By the Lord’s grace, one of our men drove by and saw the wall beginning to sway.  He alerted two backhoe operators (one from the excavating company and one from the utility company) that were working in the area that morning, and these men used their backhoes to support the wall until our men arrived to secure the wall.

Another testimony to the Lord’s protection is that there were no major injuries; just three minor ones.  Pastor Rice and Gary Clark (our Treasurer at the time) both discovered that power nailers work equally well on fingers and wood.  Also, Jim Sheaffer (the chairman of our deacons) fell while working on the platform and fractured some bones in his wrist.  Praise the Lord that He protected the men from any serious injuries, especially those who worked 40 feet up in the air framing the top of our building.

 

Throughout the building process the Lord provided in miraculous ways.  Most of the heavy equipment we used was free of charge through a rental company where one of our men worked.  Many of our men had expertise in a variety of skills, saving us a lot of expense.  The Lord provided framers, wood craftsmen, tile installers, an electronic technician, and many more talents all within our church family!  By framing the building ourselves, we saved approximately $85,000.00!  Thank the Lord for the men and their families who sacrificed to accomplish this enormous task!

The development committee appointed Ann Herman, an interior decorator, to organize a group of ladies from the church to make recommendations for the decorating and furnishing decisions.  The Lord provided great unity and the ladies had no trouble coming to agreements about paint, tile, carpet, and décor.  We are all the grateful recipients of their creativity and good taste.

 

Another area in which our church family was very involved was with the landscaping.  This was a monumental task because of the extensive city codes.  This was also a time when the ladies and children were able to help.  With over 300 trees, bushes, and flowers to plant and four semi trailers of sod to spread, we were glad for every ounce of help!  Volunteer work in this area saved us approximately $25,000.00!  Our teens were also involved in the area of clean up, spending several Saturdays cleaning up debris and trash on the site.

The landscaping was completed the day before our first service. The Lord held back the typical early snow storms that we often experience in Colorado until the day after we finished the landscaping.  The final inspection had to wait a few more days until the snow melted enough for the city inspector to see the bushes and shrubs. 

 

By November 1999, the carpet was being installed and the finishing touches were being added.  On November 21st, we held our morning service at the Seventh Day Adventist building for the final time.  After the service, we packed up all of our belongings and drove them to 325 South Taft Avenue. 

 

That afternoon our members worked to unwrap all our lovely new chairs that had been stacked in the choir loft for weeks.  We set up the auditorium and placed the songbooks in the book holders.  After eight years of passing out songbooks on a weekly basis, it was a thrill to place the hymnals where they would stay. 

 

The Lord had provided a baby grand piano and very nice organ through gifts from members of the church.  That evening we held our first Sunday service at our new building.  There was great rejoicing!  The music all sounded amazing.  The acoustics were terrific.  We knew we were “home”. 

 

Ribbon Cutting

The next Sunday, our church family drove to the Seventh Day Adventist Building for the last time.  We met at the SDA Church and received a police escort to our new building.  A caravan of 60-70 cars drove through town as a testimony of what the Lord had done for us! 

 

Once we arrived at our building, Ed Dungan presented Pastor Rice with the key to our new beautiful facility, the ribbon was cut, and our church family took possession of the gift the Lord had given us.  What a thrill!  Even though there were many details to yet be completed, our excitement could not be contained. 

 

On our move-in day, the carpet was all finished except for the foyer.  Because of shipping delays, the foyer carpet arrived late and was installed the day before our Dedication Day. 

 

Several weeks later, on December 12, 1999, we officially dedicated our new facility to the Lord’s glory. 

Our New Home

 

We have seen the Lord add new depth to our ministry in this location.  With our minds uncluttered with building plans and concerns, we are able to more fully focus on our Lord Jesus Christ and His ultimate plans for our church family.

 

 

The past 23 years have taught us a lot about the great God that we serve!

May our light CONTINUE to shine until Jesus comes!