A New Church is Born!
This past Saturday at 5:00 PM marked the first pre-launch service of Left Hand Community Church. We were thrilled to welcome 120 people to commune together in an open and inclusive environment. The evening was wonderful!
Left Hand is a daughter of Denver Community Church, Forefront Church in Brooklyn, and especially Highlands Church in Denver, which gave birth to our hopes and dreams about LHCC.
Three pastors are serving together at Left Hand. Jen Jepsen is our Pastor of Reconciling Ministries. Aaron Bailey is Pastor of Executive Ministries, and I serve as Pastor of Preaching and Worship Ministries.
Left Hand Community Church was formed in the heart of Jen Jepsen, who preached a wonderful sermon at our first service. Jen came to me in the fall of 2014 and said she thought she wanted to plant a church in Longmont, where she lived. Since I had been a national leader in church planting, Jen wanted to know what I thought. I can pretty much quote my exact response: “Do not plant a church, Jen. It will suck your soul.” (Okay, so maybe I am not always an optimist.)
Church planting is one of the hardest jobs on earth. Having been involved in the field since 1979, (I started when I was only 12 – yeah, we’ll go with that – 12), I know how hard it is to start a new church. I never thought I would be in the church again, let alone be involved in leading one. But thanks to Jen and the good folks at Highlands, here I am, serving with Jen and Aaron at a new church in Boulder County, Colorado.
If Left Hand seems an odd name, maybe an explanation will help. We are a church for all of Boulder County, and running through the middle of the county is Left Hand Canyon and Left Hand Creek, both named for Chief Niwot (translated Left Hand), a leader of the Southern Arapaho people.
Even though their land was protected by treaty from intrusion by white settlers, Chief Niwot welcomed people of European ancestry into the territory. For his generosity he was slaughtered by the Third Colorado Cavalry in the infamous Sand Creek Massacre.
While we’re kinda hoping we don’t end up like Chief Niwot, we do know there are a lot of people opposed to what we are doing. But we are thrilled to know there are a lot more who are fully supportive of our efforts to plant a growing and reproducing church in Boulder County.
LHCC has been embraced by Central Longmont, a Presbyterian Church, and we are blessed to share their facilities. We are also blessed with two highly skilled and powerful worship leaders. Heatherlyn is well known within the Open Network, and is a regular worship leader at Highlands Church. Justin Bullis has led worship at a number of large congregations in the Denver area, and is pleased to join with a church that is open and affirming. Kimberly McKay, an Occupational Therapist from the St. Vrain School District, is leading our children’s ministry. And we are already blessed with a lot of volunteers who are giving a hand at Left Hand. (Too much? Never was crazy about obvious metaphors.)
We are planting LHCC on a budget 1/15th the size with which we started churches at the Orchard Group. And much as I never expected, I am back in the business of raising financial support for my work in ministry. If you’d like to give, here is the link: https://lefthandchurch.churchcenter.com/giving/to/2 . Your help would be really appreciated.
Our next pre-launch service will be February 10, when I will be preaching and Heatherlyn will again be leading worship. Weekly services will begin on Saturday, March 3.
Four years ago this month I was at my lowest point. I had been let go from all four of my ministries and my pension had been pulled. Thanks to the folks at Clergy Advantage and a few old friends, I got through the worst of the financial crisis, but we all need meaningful work, and I was afraid I would never work again.
Unfortunately, I’ve never been one to trust God all that much. You’d think I’d have learned by now. God didn’t bring me this far to leave me. And in a way I never would have imagined, God has me back serving the church.
I believe in the church more than I’ve ever believed in it. It is the vessel that brings the good news of Christ to a world desperate to know the unconditional love of God. I pray, so hard, that the love of Christ will ever emanate from the people of Left Hand Community Church.