Colorado Christian Fellowship began as an idea – an idea that there could be a church where God’s grace, love and compassion were evident, a place where a person could be free to worship God in truth and freedom, a place where truth, holiness, purity and love are understood, taught and lived out in the lives of everyone – church leaders and members alike. Indeed, it was to be a move of God.
After coming to Denver in 1992 and serving in two Denver area churches, Apostle Phil heard from the Lord that the church he and Sylvia had been looking for was inside them and that it was time for that church to be birthed. Apostle Phil had just graduated from law school in 1995 and was enjoying his legal career. He had been ordained as a local deacon in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, served on the ministerial staff of Shorter Community AME Church for three years and later served as the Associate Pastor of Lowry Community Christian Church. With understandable feelings of uncertainty, he and Sylvia stepped out and started the church that would take their lives in an entirely new direction.
Apostle Phil and Sylvia began CCF with 28 people. The first Sunday worship service was held on August 16, 1998 in the library of Harvard Square Retirement Community in Denver. Apostle Phil preached and Sylvia played the piano—often with their toddler son perched on her lap—and the congregation listened, learned, and began to come together as a church family.
Apostle Phil often shares that he and Sylvia kept asking the Lord when he was going to send the pastor for this fledgling flock. By November 1998, the church had outgrown this little space and the young church moved to the auditorium of the Double Tree Hotel on East Iliff Avenue in Aurora. The church began to take form, and Sylvia and Apostle Phil were joined by Quetta Keenan as the pianist and worship leader. The usher was Toussaint Redcross, and Phyllis Mitchell handled the finances. Bible studies were held in Pastor Phil and Sylvia’s home. The Board of Elders had been appointed during the first months and there were four elders (Louis Materre, Steve Mitchell, Toussaint Redcross, and Apostle Phil).
The church grew steadily as members invited friends, relatives, and co-workers. Membership was extended to these first attendees in August 1999. Up until that time, a person could not become a “member,” they simply attended, joined in the worship, listened to the Word of God, dropped an offering in the basket at the end of the service if they chose, and began the process of becoming a family.
As the church continued to grow, it was evident that the auditorium would soon be too small. The church moved to leased space at Uvalda and Mississippi Avenue in Aurora in January 2000. The sanctuary occupied the lower level and the staff office was on the first level. During our time there, Apostle Phil often referred to us as a “stealth” church because very few people outside of our friends and relatives knew about this growing body of believers destined to impact the Rocky Mountain region and the world.
Apostle Phil, Sylvia, and many of the members, hauled furniture, mopped floors, cleaned walls, and set up the nursery. For the first time, we had our own space. It was an exciting time of growth and maturing as a body. There was tremendous excitement in the air as we were about to launch out into unknown territory. By the end of 2000, the church had grown to approximately 250 members. It was during the years at this location that we grew together at worship services, prayer meetings, pool parties, picnics, workshops, men’s and women’s retreats, and ministry gatherings. Ministries such as the children’s church, men’s and women’s ministries, and outreach were formed. It was a time of discovering our purpose and mission as a body. In 2001 Apostle Phil, for the first time, defined for the congregation the mission of the church. With an emphasis on five-fold ministry, we were to become an equipping and sending church.
During the first few years at our second location, it was evident that we were growing rapidly and would need to look for our next home. There were several attempts to find a location that would accommodate us, but none seemed to pan out. As we neared the end of the second year of a five-year lease, God guided Apostle Phil and Sylvia to the retail space we currently occupy. While making the weekly Sunday trip to the bank to deposit the week’s offering, they spotted a “for lease” sign on the building. It had previously been occupied by a church and was slated to be converted back to retail space the very next day.
We moved into the Havana Park Place in December 2001, celebrated a joyous Christmas, and thanked God for leading us to this wonderful place. In 2002 we began our first capital campaign, however, the property subsequently became unavailable and we were again looking for a permanent home. In the meantime, we acquired additional space in the retail park and relocated our administrative offices to the current location. In 2003, Apostle Phil and Sylvia planted what would be the seeds of our missionary outreach. They traveled first to Cambodia and later to Zambia and England.
Our first class of 64 ordained ministers were all trained by Apostle Phil (this was the beginning of Christian Vocational Training School) and these ministers were ordained in April 2004.
As we have grown, God has expanded every area of the church. The ministries of healing and deliverance and care groups have become defining elements of CCF. Christian Vocational Training School was launched in 2006 and continues to expand and prepare believers to fulfill their destiny. The Prophetic Arts Department now encompasses Dance, Comedy, Drama, Literary Arts, Visual Arts, and Music. Congregational Care and the Deacons Ministry meet the needs of the church under many different circumstances. The Children and the Youth and Young Adult Department minister to ages zero through thirty. The Ushers and Greeters welcome all who visit our Sunday services with compassion and love. The Board of Elders now numbers seven and the pastoral staff has grown to five. Administration encompasses the church administrator, the business manager and the administrative assistant. There are two facilities staff members who labor to keep our physical environment comfortable and inviting. We have 118 active ordained ministers who are members of Global Change Network, U.S.A. and six who are members of our affiliate, GCN, Southern Africa. We have a staff of 11 full-time and 19 part-time employees and attendance at both Sunday services totals approximately 1,200 people.
CCF is built on a foundation of prayer, commitment, perseverance, love, obedience, trust, holiness, and more. As we continue to build on this solid beginning, there is no doubt that CCF will continue to be “A Place to Call Home.”