RIDGWAY – When the United Church of the San Juans opens its doors for the first time this summer it will provide the Ridgway community a beautiful place to worship, and much more.
“The priority for this building is to have it serve as a worship center, but not only will it be a place for music, prayers and the worship of God, it’s also a place we intend to make available to the community for a variety of special events,” said Reverend Doctor Richard Engdahl, the church’s pastor.
Engdahl’s charge – to make the United Church of the San Juans a welcoming place for the entire Ridgway community – has already taken shape. The building, which sits at 295 North Lena Street and boasts majestic floor-to-ceiling windows facing the mountains, has been a project spearheaded almost exclusively by local companies.
Larry Coulter, of longtime Ridgway construction company Coulter Construction, is the project’s builder.
“The project has used a lot of local suppliers and contractors,” Coulter said, from the early excavating to the finish work. Some of the Ridgway specialists who have lent their talents to the project include Phil Blackford Excavating, Ameriss, Ridgway Masonry, and Coulter’s local crew of builders. When there weren’t local companies that could fit the bill for certain projects, Coulter called in contractors and suppliers from the nearby region, making the United Church of the San Juans almost exclusively “San Juan built.”
Companies and contractors from Ouray to Montrose – including drywall work from Robert Warren out of Ouray, mechanical work from Coolings Heating and Air Conditioning in Montrose, electric expertise from Montrose’s Crossroads Electric, plumbing from Montrose’s Gary Gleason, and Chuck’s Glass of Montrose – have assisted with the creation of the 4,900-square-foot church.
The building was designed by local architect Sandra Hines, and is what Engdahl described as a combination of modern and traditional styles. It will have seating for 150, with removable seats allowing for a modicum of flexibility, and a top-notch sound system and easy accessibility from the street. The kitchen is large and well appointed, and the bathrooms are also spacious and easily accessible.
The interior boasts faux paint and barnwood-accented walls, with exposed beams crisscrossing the high ceiling and custom wood doors. Perhaps the most inspiring dimension of the building is its expansive east-facing windows, which provide a commanding view of the mountains.
Engdahl said the local congregation is excited to see the final product, which is slated for completion by late July. “Their willingness to step up to the plate to fund this project, especially during this time of economic uncertainty, has been exceptional,” he said, noting that nearly $700,000 has already been raised for the $800,000 project. He added that thanks to the efficiency and solid work ethic shown by Coulter Construction and others, the project should be completed ahead of schedule, delivering an extra gift for the church’s following.
The United Church of the San Juans serves the faiths of Methodist, Lutheran, Presbyterian, and United Church of Christ, but is open to all. Explained Engdahl, “Our belief is that a church shouldn’t necessarily be a place for people who all think alike or have the same persuasion, but that it should be a place for people of different thoughts and traditions with the overall message of proclaiming God’s love.”
Interior finish work is ongoing, and will continue through the spring and early summer.