The missionary Sheldon Jackson and the Presbyterian Church in Las Animas started the process for a new congregation in La Junta. The first meetings were held in railroad coaches. In October 1881 the first regular services were held in the school house and were led by Rev. Thomas Thompson, pastor of the Las Animas Presbyterian Church. The results of a survey conducted by the Pueblo Presbytery resulted in services being held from January 22 to January 30, 1882 and a church being organized with a charter membership of 23 members. The first house of worship was completed and dedicated on January 7, 1883 at Third and Kansas (now Third and Santa Fe). In 1895 an addition was put on the back of the first building along with a tower and bell. The property was valued at $50,000 and there were 250 active members and 200 affiliates.
A good choir was an early asset as the services were led by Presbyterian, Methodist, and Episcopalian pastors. Rev. J.J. Gilchrist came in April 1888 determined "by Gods power and strength" to build the membership. One of the early new member families donated the marble baptismal font in memory of Dr. Frank Finney.
In 1904 the original building was sold to the Mennonites and moved five blocks south where it remains today (with some additions).
A NEW BUILDING TO COST $9850
In January 1905 ground was broken on the 23rd anniversary of the church's organization and a contract for a new building to cost $9850 was signed.
The first worship was held in the new, large, gray, stone building on Easter Sunday in 1906. The first organ recital was given on the new pipe organ, which at that time ranked second largest in the state outside of Denver. A recital dedicated the pipe organ purchased through the help of the Willing Workers Sunday School Class. It cost $2000 but was valued at $3500. The stained glass windows cost an additional $1500. The building at 3rd and Santa Fe in La Junta would be used for worship until April 15, 1960.
A 1906 proposal to establish a Presbyterian college in La Junta was not accepted by the Synod.
In September 1961 ground was broken for a new building at 20th and Raton. The $150,000 building was dedicated June 3, 1962 and the mortgage was totally paid in 1975. Since then the sanctuary has undergone renovation, the parking lot has been resurfaced several times, and an elevator and grade level parking lot have been built to provide handicapped accessibility. Two of the stained glass windows, the organ and the baptismal font were brought from the former church. The bell, thought to be from the original building was installed.
The chancel area was remodeled in 1978. The educational unit received a new roof following a windstorm in 2000. In 2004, an elevator addition was constructed on the north, opening into the newly leveled parking lot. The original furnace and air-conditioning were replaced in 2005.
Rev. Robert Cottman (1897-1903) and Conrad Bluhm (1903-1908) were the first two ministers to stay for five years. Rev. A. E. Allen served for 8 years. Some of his family were members of the church. Rev. Carley Halsey served from 1923 to 1926 and then returned in 1935 to serve 22 more years. Rev. Dr. Rodney Gibson filled the pulpit from 1957-1972. In the first 16 years of the church's existence the church was served by 9 pastors. The service of ministers in the later years brought more stability to the church.
Through the years the church's mission has included sponsoring three refugee families, interdenominational Bible schools, a community preschool, an ordained minister and three lay pastors, several short-term missionaries, thirteen youth group dinner theaters and mission trips, Stephen Ministers, Logos program, weekend retreats, audio and video tape ministries, small group studies, Sunday school classes, and help in areas of need in our community and elsewhere.