A couple of blocks off Main Street in Aguilar, the Apishapa Valley Chapel stands proud despite some peeling white paint. The building is well over 100 years old and continues to host Sunday services. Officially it’s still the United Presbyterian Church, but members of the congregation recently posted the new Apishapa Valley Chapel name on the sign in front.
“We wanted to reach out to the community to build up the congregation and maybe the name change would be a little more open to visitors,” said Pat Romero, a church elder and longtime Aguilar resident. Currently the church has about a dozen members and no regular pastor. Visiting pastors, some retired, come from Pueblo and beyond to perform weekly services. “It is nice, you get different interpretations,” Romero said.
She explains that they’re focusing on the local population in the surrounding valleys as well as to the east. “Those are the people we’re hoping to reach out to, so that they know there’s a place to worship. They don’t have to become a member of the Presbyterian Church.”
The Aguilar church is part of the larger Presbytery of Pueblo, led by Executive Presbyter Ron Anderson. Of the name change to Apishapa Valley Chapel, Anderson said, “I think it’s a good move. That’s a name people in that area recognize. It’s an effort to reach out to the community.”
But whether it’s possible to significantly increase church attendance is another matter. “Churches around the country are dealing with a cultural change, which includes less attendance,” he said.
Nonetheless, Romero said the congregation is slowly starting to build. “It’s a small town, the church has always been not just a place of worship but kind of a social center,” she said. “We’re having a community Christmas Carol sing along on Monday, Dec. 23, 6 p.m.”
All are welcome.