Popular Kremmling pastor, wife move to Denver
December 18, 2007
Kremmling has just said farewell to one of its most prominent citizens, as Pastor Doug Stevenson of the Kremmling Community Church moved to Denver last week.
Stevenson has been the minister of the church on the corner of Eagle Avenue and Fourth Street for the past six years. He and his wife Ethel, who has been a partner in his pastoral career, have sold their home on Gore Pass and moved to the Denver area to begin a new career.
“It is extremely difficult to extract ourselves from this community after all these years,” Stevenson said. “This is a tough leaving for us. We want to say thank you to this community because it has meant so much to us.”
The announcement that Stevenson was leaving was made only three weeks ago.
The church’s Associate Pastor Dan Canady will be its interim senior minister until a new pastor is called.
Born and raised in New Zealand, Stevenson was ordained and began his ministry almost 40 years ago. His first contact with Kremmling began in 1992 when he took part in a five-month exchange program with the Kremmling Community Church’s then pastor Terry Jarbo.
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“That began our longstanding relationship with Kremmling,” Stevenson said. “We made friends here and liked the community.”
In late 1999, Stevenson and his wife Ethel moved to the United States to take up a temporary ministerial post. Having maintained their contacts with community members in Kremmling, they learned about the plight of the Kremmling Community Church whose membership had fallen to 15 to 20 members.
“We were in the U.S. about a year when the Kremmling Community Church contacted us and negotiated for us to come here,” Stevenson said. “Its attendance was then very small, and we decided to come here to help the church.”
Under Stevenson’s leadership and ministerial skills, the Kremmling Community Church had a rebirth. Its attendance grew by leaps and bounds.
For the past few years, Sunday attendance has ranged from 110 to 170 with close to 300 community members calling the Kremmling Community Church their home. Its membership literally outgrew its church building with services being held in the auditorium of West Grand High School for the past year.
“To quote John Maxwell, a famous Christian writer, ‘Everything rises and falls on leadership,'” Stevenson said. “God gave us the growth. Our task was to create the environment for that growth.”
To do that, Stevenson said the church had to develop a “welcoming atmosphere” that was inclusive of everyone in the local community.
“One of the pieces in growing a church is to be there for people when they need you,” Stevenson said.
Along with giving his popular sermons, Stevenson was involved in all the ministerial duties of handling weddings, baptisms and funerals as well as counseling. He also worked with Kremmling’s Cliffside Assisted Living Center to provide pastoral care to its residents.
In addition to his regular duties, he has worked with other community organizations. He became a member of the Grand County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team and worked with the county’s Juvenile Services’ Assessment Office.
The success in bringing the Kremmling Community Church back from the brink of closing is actually nothing new for Stevenson who describes himself and his wife Ethel as “troubleshooters” in resuscitating churches with declining memberships.
“Over the past 26 years, Ethel and I have been involved in helping four churches go from dysfunction to function,” he said. “It’s been extremely hard work, and it has taken a physical and emotional toll on us.”
Having devoted his life to the ministry, Stevenson, who will soon be 60 years old, confessed that the major reason for leaving his position as the pastor of Kremmling Community Church is “financial.”
“It is complex, but the bottom line is that Ethel and I must now prepare for our retirement,” he said. “For nearly 40 years, our lives have been about giving to the church and the communities we worked in. Now we have to start thinking about our later years. We think this will be a strategic move for us.”
For their new careers, the Stevensons will be managing an independent retirement facility in Denver called Quincy Place. It is part of the Holiday Retirement Corp. which operates 400 retirement facilities in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand.
“Quincy Place is designed for senior people able to live independently,” Stevenson said. “It’s a business that provides a compassionate environment. I will be employing marketing strategies to build it up. Ethel will be providing the compassionate side while I’ll be working the marketing side.”
The couple acknowledges their leaving is difficult after spending so many years in Kremmling.
“We’re leaving, but not leaving in a sense,” Stevenson said. We’re taking leave of friends here, but we’re not abandoning them. We will still be in a consulting role in calling a new pastor for the church. We are also just a phone call or email message away.
“And lastly, we would once again would like to say thank you to the community for their support of us and the Kremmling Community Church. The past few years have been a truly unforgettable experience for us,” he said.