History of Eckert Presbyterian Church

windows light backgroundThe Presbyterian Church at Eckert has its beginning in various efforts that were made by interested people of the community during the early years of the 20th century.  The new, raw rapidly growing agricultural community of farmers and tradespeople recognized the need for a spiritual focal point at an early stage Baptists, Congregationalists, and Presbyterians, as well as other Protestant denominations tried, with varying degrees of success, to organize congregations in Eckert.

Finally, in 1913, with help and encouragement from the Gunnison Presbytery and the Synod of Colorado, a Presbyterian congregation composed of 37 charter members came into being.  The first services were held in the “upstairs of the Odd Fellows hall”, a building which has long since burned and the exact location of which is probably to human memory.

In 1915 the members of the young congregation were ready for a permanent church home.  With a $1,000 grant from the Synod, a bank loan of $1,785 and $1,650 locally raised, they voted to start construction of their own building.  A California architectural firm that was located by the Rev. J. A. Hunsicker drew the plans.  It was to be built of native stone collected and hauled to the site entirely by volunteer labor.  As construction began other labor was donated or hired when funds became available.

During the years of World War I and the flu epidemic of 1918-1919 work progressed slowly or was suspended entirely.  The first worship service was held in the barely completed basement of the church in June of 1919 with 110 people attending.  It was virtually the first public gathering of any kind in the community since the onslaught of the flu epidemic a year earlier.

In June of 1921 the new building was completed and dedicated.  It consisted of a sanctuary that could be divided by a folding partition to create Sunday school classrooms and in the basement a community room and a kitchen.  Financial notes form 1920 indicated expenditure of some $4,500 for material and $4,000 for labor to that time.  The loans and grants that had been obtained to start the building program had not been paid off and wouldn’t be until well into the 1930’s.

From 1921 until after World War II the congregation added landscaping, a kitchen, and restrooms as volunteer work and funds permitted.  One of the biggest improvements was a central heating plant in 1936 that replaced the pot-bellied coal stoves around which worshippers huddled in their heavy coats on cold winter Sunday mornings.

Taken from “Eckert Presbyterian Church, A Brief Look at Our Past” by Norman Kehmeier