Sunday, December 30, 2012

High Altitude Christmas Worship on Skis

Pastors in blue, dad in white, me in brown. 
Rode the Copper Mountain American Eagle quad lift up the mountain today in time for mountain top worship. Just down from the lift puts you at the "nature center" (state park speak for "chapel"), an open air viewing structure built by Copper Mountain Community Church members a few years ago. Their goal is to continue providing worship for employees and guests of Copper on the mountain. 

I'm not certain, but my impression was about half of those in attendance for worship are employees of Copper in some capacity. The rest of us just happened to be on the mountain at the right time and skied up to sing some hymns and pray.

Prior to building the chapel, the community church used to gather under some trees near a cross (still standing) just down from the lift.

Add caption
Worship at 11,000 feet in December is cold, bright, and beautiful. For our prayers, we prayed with eyes open looking out over the Gore Mountain range. I think the service lasted about 30 minutes. We sang simple praise songs from the songbook they distributed. In observance of the 12 days of Christmas, I requested Joy to the World. They sing Go Tell It On the Mountain basically every Sunday, for obvious reasons, but of course it was especially meaningful today on the first Sunday after Christmas. The sermon, very brief, was thoughtful. Considering The Good Samaritan and the Christ Hymn of Philippians, we were offered a glimpse of what it might mean to consider humility as our new year's resolution for 2013.

The pastor who delivered the message, Dick Jacquin, took the photos above. They update their banner weekly with a photo of the worshiping community. An altogether friendly gathering appropriate to context. We wanted to pray. We also all wanted to ski. This allowed space in the midst of good Sabbath recreation for good Sabbath worship.

Very cool ministry. They especially work to reach the employees of Copper. They hand deliver homemade cookies to every worker at every lift Sunday mornings, and offer two services, one down hill at 8:30, one mountain top at 12:30. In addition to the cookies, they organize a monthly community meal (the day before paychecks are issued), which usually has 300-400 folks in attendance. 

I think this is what you call indigenous missional ministry. Great stuff. Meeting the needs of the employees and residence of Copper in a way that builds community and goes to where they are. That it requires skiing all the great slopes of Copper to get to the lifts is, as the pastors say, a small sacrifice.

To learn more about the congregation, and see some great photos of their community, visit:


  1. Anonymous12:07 PM


    This is such a fantastic idea! With so many people who work in industries that do not fit the 9-5 Monday to Friday pattern we need to do a better job of bringing church to where the people are and also offering worship services when they can participate. Also, great outreach to meet the needs of a community that oftentimes is underpaid in an area with a high cost of living and a lack of affordable housing anywhere close to the places of employment.

    There is also the tension between the need for families and individuals to be involved in a faith community and the need to re-create. I see many runners on my way to church on Sunday mornings. Makes me think of a runners church, where people can come in before or after a run without having to worry about changing first.

    There is another similar group here in Colorado led by the Adventure Rabbi, who offers Shabbat services at Copper during the ski season. Maybe we need an Adventure Pastor!

    Oh, and welcome to Colorado!

  2. Runner's church. I love that idea!