In the late 1800s, Telluride’s colorful, untamed mining settlement was in full swing. Church communities began to emerge. Christ Church began as a Congregational Church, which was the first church built here in 1889. Additional churches followed, including St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, a Methodist Church, a Christian Science Center and, later, other churches of varying denominations.
The Reverend George Wallace Belsey was the first known minister of what was to become today’s Christ Church. Two inevitable facts of life gave considerable occupation to a preacher at that time; marriage and death. There were probably 10 unmarried men for each unmarried woman in town. There were many hurried marriages, though few weddings and death took a goodly toll. The burials, in well-named Lone Pine Cemetery, were a big public event. The preacher would make a few remarks at the church, and after a brief service, a long cortege of buggies and riders would move slowly behind the hearse and a dance hall band, wailing a funeral dirge all the way to the cemetery.
The Belsey family stayed in Telluride through 1910, and shortly after they left, the church and community fell on hard times when the mining industry went bust. In 1938, the Presbyterians helped revive the Telluride church considerably, and records show that Paul E. Ferguson was the first Presbyterian pastor to be installed in our church on March 30, 1938.
In the 1960s, the old sanctuary burned to the ground. Because of the strong support of our local community and congregation members, caring individuals donated endless hours to help rebuild our church, which is now located at 434 W. Columbia Street in Telluride. At the time, a local women’s group; the lda Smith Missionary Society, held craft shows with proceeds donated to the cost of construction materials, and miners donated stone to encase the custom fireplace that still stands in the sanctuary.
Since the 60s the culture of Christ Church has changed with the wider community. Several successful pastorates have enhanced the connections between congregation and community. With three centuries of presence in Telluride, Christ Presbyterian Church is a vibrant, informed, and compassionate congregation ready to face the challenges of being church in the twenty-first century.