In 1964 a group of Christians from the Belcaro Evangelical Free Church (now Fellowship Community Church of Aurora) began a Bible study meeting in their homes in Lakewood as a base for planting a new church. In 1965, this group formed the Lakewood Evangelical Free Church with 20 charter members. Pastor Olai Urang served as part-time pastor of the congregation. Also in 1965, 3.3 acres of land at South Wadsworth Boulevard and Morrison Road were purchased as the site for their first building. This site served the growing congregation for 29 years.
Groundbreaking of Original Building
Ground was broken in January 1966 and the first service was held in the new building on May 1, 1966. In June 1966, because the church was in the Southern Gables subdivision, the congregation formally changed the name to “Southern Gables Evangelical Free Church.”
Church Calls Dr. Jim Means
In 1967 the congregation called their first full-time pastor, Dr. Jim Means, who served the church until 1977. Under Dr. Means’ leadership, the congregation steadily grew and soon crowded the original chapel and classroom space. Additional classroom space was added and then a major expansion was completed in 1974. It included a 540 seat sanctuary, a fellowship hall, large kitchen and additional classrooms. By 1977, average worship service attendance had grown to about 500.
Dr. Jerry Nelson Named Successor
In 1978 the church called Dr. Jerry Nelson who served as Senior Pastor until 2009. Additional associate pastors were added as the needs of the congregation required.
Growth of the congregation continued and again, crowding became a problem. A key element in the Southern Gables growth strategy was the encouragement of the planting of additional churches. North and south “satellite” congregations, under central church management and meeting in rented space, were begun to expand the outreach into our community. Members were encouraged to participate in several church plants in our area. Attendance continued to increase, averaging more than 1,000 in worship services by 1990.
Church Moves to Littleton
The church was now at capacity with overcrowded classrooms. After a professional study of the church history and projected future growth, the congregation voted to move to a new location and construct a new building. In 1990, after much searching and negotiations, we were blessed by the purchase of a 12.7 acre site at 4001 S. Wadsworth Boulevard, about two miles south of the original church location. A 42,300 square foot new building was constructed with a 700-seat multi-purpose room, classrooms and enlarged office and nursery space. In 1994 the congregation moved to the new facilities. The first services were held on Easter Sunday with more than 2,000 in attendance.
Even before the move to the new facility, it was recognized that more space would soon be needed for the growing congregation and multi-phase expansions were planned for. In 1997, the “Outback” was constructed, an 8,000 square foot, freestanding building that added much needed classroom and storage space.
The West Wing
Expansion of the west wing was completed in 2000. It added classrooms, a large kitchen, a multi-purpose room for use as a fellowship hall and adult classrooms along with a large multi-media room for student gatherings and worship, a student center with game and lounge space, office space and classrooms.
In 2002 the congregation launched a church plant (Mosaic Southwest) with 240 men, women and children led by associate pastor Fritz Dale.
Welcome Center: A New Kind of Space
In October 2003, the congregation approved the expansion of the Welcome Center to provide more space for “community” on Sunday mornings. Construction of the expansion was begun in October 2004 and completed in June 2005. The Welcome Center, with full coffee bar (available only on Sunday morning) serves as one of the most useful spaces in the building for Sunday morning connections, Life Groups, receptions, and a host of events that facilitate connection.
Pastor Jeff Daley Succeeds Dr. Jerry Nelson
In April of 2007, Dr. Jerry Nelson announced that he was stepping down as Senior Pastor. That announcement launched a 40 month search for a new successor. On August 1 , 2011, the congregation voted to call Pastor Jeff Daley, who started a successful church plant in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and who is currently serving as Senior Pastor.