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.  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.        

     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.                  

     Over the next few years, Jim and DeAnn were married and both worked to pay off their college debt, which was over $20,000.00.  The Lord blessed them greatly and in three and a half years, they were debt free.
     In August 1990, Jim and DeAnn visited Colorado and Loveland for the first time for a 10-day survey trip.  They counseled with 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.   
     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 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.     

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.  For the first three to four weeks, they canvassed about 150 homes per day. 
     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. 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 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.             
     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!      
     While at this facility, most of the outside financial support for the church expired and our church became more responsible for our own expenses.  After two years at the Lincoln Avenue facility, Gateway was notified that our building lease would not be extended after 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.   

“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.   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.     
     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.   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.       

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. In the fall of 1994, Pastor Rice contacted the pastor of the Seventh Day Adventist Church and arranged to rent their facility for Sunday use.    
     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.  That “one year” turned into to five years! This facility was larger than our previous location and gave us additional room for growth.

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.  We met in various homes, but that was always crowded.  In summers, we often met at local parks. 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. 
     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.  After two years, we were compelled to stop using the school in order to facilitate construction of our building.
     Another need during this time was for a place for the church office. The Lord provided this through a local businessman who offered to provide office space for free if Gateway would pray for his business regularly. We certainly agreed to that and Universal Communications was on our prayer sheet for the five years they loaned us space. 

Building And Land Development

     In 1995, a  development committee began the process to create a basic design for the building and a master plan for the site.  A great deal of research went into needs analysis and planning to meet the present needs and beyond. 
     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.  There was simply no way that our church could develop that land, so we voted to sell that portion.   
     The Lord is good! He had provided the extra land so that it could be sold later and help offset building costs. 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.   

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! 
     One of our members 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. 
     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.    
     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 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.
     By the sixth day of construction, the men were framing in the second floor! 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!
     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.  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! 
     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, our contractor, 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! 
     Several weeks later, on December 12, 1999, we officially dedicated our new facility to the Lord’s glory. 

To God be the glory! Great things He has done!