IN THE SUMMER OF 1860, The Rev. A.T. Rankin of Buffalo, New York headed for the new settlements near the junction of Cherry Creek and the South Platte River with the intention of organizing a Presbyterian church there.
His first day in Denver was a memorable one. Accompanied by General William Larimer, a well-known Denver figure and a trustee of the new church, Rev. Rankin went to the Rocky Mountain News office to insert an announcement that religious services for Presbyterians and others would be held the following Sunday. An enraged resident was at the news office and was attempting to kill its editor when Rankin and Larimer walked in. The two immediately intervened, saving the life of the editor. Thus began the legacy of Central Presbyterian Church (as Rankin’s mission church came to be known in 1882) in Denver.
After one small, early building, a second, more useful building was erected in 1876 at the corner of 18th and Champa in downtown Denver. Several prominent parishioners wanted a ‘suitable’ roof for the church and solicited donations from gamblers and saloon keepers for a slate roof. The slates were black and red in color, installed in a symmetrical design of eight large red diamonds on one side, seven on the others. Thereafter, the church was unofficially known as the ‘Church of the Seven Spot Diamonds’.
NOT JUST BECAUSE OF OUR LOCATION, BUT BECAUSE OF OUR MINISTRY, Central Church has served in an important role in downtown Denver. From its inception, the church has tried to meet the needs of our city.
From 1873 until 1928, Central founded and maintained a ministry to railroad workers in the downtown area. The Railroad Union Mission was crucial in reaching out to a group of people who, up until that time, did not have ready access to religious services. Central also ran the Chinese School in Denver from 1877 until 1919. Here, immigrant workers received both educational and spiritual support.
Presbyterian Hospital (now Presbyterian-St. Luke’s) is also one of the countless other missions, agencies, and churches that Central has initiated through the years. Central was one of the hospital’s principal founders early in the 20th century. During the depression years, Presbyterian Hospital was in danger of closing due to lack of funds. At the same time, our church was set to expand its own facility. Many community leaders donated to ensure that the hospital – so important to the Denver community did not have to close its doors. Central joined them and contributed the funds planned for its own building to keep the hospital open. Not until 25 years later did the church finally expand its own facilities.
This spirit of adventure, mission and contribution to the needs of the community continues to this day. Check our MISSIONS page to find out more about today’s outreach ministries at Central.
150 YEARS AFTER ITS FOUNDING IN THE EARLY DAYS OF DENVER, Central still strives to be a spiritual home in an ever-changing world. The church is committed to offering spiritual nurture and challenge to its members and making a difference in the Denver community.