first church of the nazarene

1111 w. 10th st.
La Junta, CO 81050

@LaJuntaNazarene on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter



The Church of the Nazarene is a Christian denomination in the Wesleyan-Holiness tradition, formed in 1908. It was founded to spread the message of scriptural holiness (Christlike living) across the globe. Today the Church of the Nazarene is located in 159 world areas. 

Our mission is to make Christlike disciples among all the nations. We believe that God offers everyone forgiveness, peace, joy, purpose, love, the fullness of life in the kingdom of heaven (both here and in the world to come) by entering and experiencing a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We are called to take this message to people everywhere. 

As a Wesleyan-Holiness church, we believe that Christians can experience victory over sin, power to witness and serve, and a richer fellowship with God, all through the infilling of the Holy Spirit. 

What we believe:

  • We believe in one God: The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  • We believe that the Bible, both Old and New Testament were inspired by God, and contain all truth necessary to faith and Christian living.
  • We believe that all have willfully turned from the good things of God through sin
  • We believe that those who do not turn from their sin are eternally lost
  • We believe that Jesus Christ died for everyone and anyone who repents and places their faith in Him is saved.
  • We believe that believers are called by God to live a holy life and are empowered to do so by the Holy Spirit.
  • We believe that Jesus is coming back again and will judge both the living and the dead.

Ministry Team

Meet our pastoral staff! As ministers of the Gospel, we desire to introduce you to Jesus, help you grow in him, and to help you find a place within the work and community of the church.


Denominational Resources

Church of the Nazarene - Our denomination at large, with 2.4 million members in 162 world areas, speaking 212 languages. We take seriously Christ's call to make disciples among all nations.
Nazarene Missions International (NMI)
Sunday School Discipleship Ministries International (SDMI)
Nazarene Youth International (NYI)
Nazarene Compassionate Ministries
The Foundry Publishing (Formerly Nazarene Publishing House - NPH)
COTN Colorado District
COTN Colorado NYI
Camp Golden Bell - The Summer Camp and Retreat Center for the CO District COTN. Summer Camp dates and registration forms can be found on the site.
Wesleyan-Holiness Digital Library (WHDL)
The Wesley Center Online (NNU)


community partners

Associated Charities — Providing supplemental food, limited rental assistance, limited utility assistance as an outreach of La Junta churches in the name of Jesus Christ.

La Junta Ministerial Association — A coalition of La Junta area churches working together to bring the Gospel to the community.

Bible Study Fellowship — Bible Study Fellowship is an interdenominational, in-depth Bible study available to women & preschool age children in La Junta, Colorado.

Ark Valley Homeschool Group



the early years

La Junta First Church of the Nazarene was founded in 1916 with only seven Charter members: Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Wiley, Mr. and Mrs. H. Gibson, Mr. and Mrs. Paul Rice and Mrs. C. Carson. These devoted men and women were compelled by a passionate desire to serve and please their Lord, and to give vital testimony to the experience of sanctification. But the ministry of the Church of the Nazarene in the Arkansas River Valley has its roots even earlier, when District Superintendent C. B. Widmeyer reported to the 1913 District Assembly that he had held Revival Campaigns in  Cheraw and La Junta in January and February of that year. District Superintendent R. J. Plum organized The Church of the Nazarene of La Junta in October 1916. Faith was more plentiful than members. There were only seven on the original roster and this group had little to give. A financial report for the first eight months showed $251.54 in expenses. For some years the tiny congregation worshiped in a downtown location, before moving to a tabernacle at Fifth and Santa Fe. In 1927, under the leadership of Rev. Thomas Hayes, a building which was then described as being “commodious” by District Superintendent C. W. Davis in his report to the Assembly, was built at the Tenth and Colorado Avenue location.

The first pastor of the new congregation was Rev. E. Waldon, who served for five months before resigning due to ill health. Rev. Howard Eckel was pastor during the Santa Fe Railroad strike of 1922, which almost destroyed the struggling, still new church, as many members moved away to find work. Rev. Eckel resigned in 1923 to relieve the congregation of the burden of his salary. After that there was a period when several members preached on Sunday until the church could afford a new minister.Rev. Clyde Dawson was leading the church during the first phase of remodeling the church building at the corner of Tenth and Colorado Avenue.


During its first few years, the church counted only 36 members, who worshiped together in a basement building on Colorado Ave. The first church building was constructed at 10th and Raton in 1923 and by the end of the decade, more than 60 members were worshiping in the building’s new upper level. The congregation continued to grow until the building was inadequate for both present and future needs. An expansion was undertaken during the pastorate of Rev. Clyde Dawson and brought to completion and dedicated November 28, 1954, by Rev. E. L. Cornelison. In 1951, another addition to the building was dedicated. In September 1974 approximately 175 members and invited guests attended the ground breaking ceremony for a new parsonage. The plot of ground for the parsonage was donated to the church by members Mr. and Mrs. Sam Williams. Building committee members were: Bob Bryan, Estell Robinson, Jim Schibbelhute, Merle Ritchie, Lyman Waters and Willis Bland.

The church met there until 1993, when the present church at 10th and Topeka was dedicated. It was during the ministry of Rev. Harold Wedel in the early 1990s that the long held dream of a new sanctuary became a reality. The one and one-half year building project included a sanctuary to seat 450, a Family Life Center, kitchen, Sunday school rooms and offices for two ministers. The facility was dedicated October 17, 1993 with an attendance of 318 people. At that time there were about 150 members.

The Road Ahead

Throughout our history, we have believed in using our facilities to bless the community and have donated time and space for use in many community causes, including food distribution to the needy, safety training seminars, inter-denominational bible studies, home school classes, theater and art productions, and community discussion.

In October 2016, we celebrated our 100th anniversary as a congregation! We are delighted that the Holy Spirit has guided us as we have ministered to La Junta over the past century and we look forward to the adventure ahead.



first church of the nazarene senior pastors

Rev. E. Walden 1916
Rev. H. J. Brown 1918
Rev. T. D. Dunn 1919
Rev. T. C. Whybrew 1920 - 1921
Rev. Howard Eckel 1921 - 1923
Rev., B. F. Hayes 1926 - 1927
Rev. F. C. Savage 1928 - 1931
Rev. Glen Griffith 1932
Rev. Z. H. Baxter 1933
Rev. Ben Griffith 1934 - 1935
Rev. R. H. McCort 1936 - 1940
Rev. Earl Schultz 1941 - 1943
Rev. Clyde Dawson 1943 -1948
Rev. E. L. Corneliuson 1948 - 1952
Rev. Eugene W. Moore 1952 - 1954
Rev. C. K. Helsel 1954 - 1959
Rev. Glen Terry 1959 - 1962
Rev. Claude White 1962 - 1969
Rev Corbie Grimes 1969 - 1972
Rev. Stanley Unseth 1972 - 1975
Rev. H.L. Hendrix 1975-1977
Rev. Stanley Unseth 1977-1981
Rev. John Alexander 1981-1987
Rev. Harold Wedel 1987 - 1998
Rev. Dennis Welch 1998 - 2001
Rev. Gordon Gossman 2002 - 2005
Rev. Brian Williams 2006 - 2010
Rev. Andy Albright 2010-2013
Rev. H. Gordon Smith III 2014 - Present

The La Junta Church is proud of the number of young people who have dedicated their lives to Christian service. Those who have become pastors include:  

Rev. Albert Neusewanger
Rev. James Barr
Rev. Bert Edwards, Jr.
Rev. Glen Anderson
Rev. Milton McCrerry
Rev. Eldred VanPelt
Rev. Terry Conley
Rev. Raymond Conley
Rev. Frank Rife
Rev. Mamie Dodd

Other members have gone into the mission field: 

Rev. Marvin Rife
Rev. Dennis Rife
Miss Ruth Rife
Mrs. Juanita Moon
Rev. Marshall Griffith
Miss Beverly Moon