Pastor Bobby Allen came to live in Craig to start a church — but he didn’t know where the church would live yet.
The Independent Baptist pastor arrived in Craig from North Carolina after traveling with his family around the country looking for a place to build his church.
“Each door that we entered, at the end, it was closed,” Allen said.
Then, he heard about a group in this Northwest Colorado community looking for what he had to offer. He felt called, and he answered.
“We did a survey trip in May, stayed two weeks, and then that end of June we made our transition from North Carolina to Craig to start the church,” Allen said.
But there was no home for the church yet.
“We met at various places,” Allen said. “Met at the Center of Craig, at the Chamber of Commerce building, and then we got into the Quality Inn.”
Though he knew he was on the right path, it was hard for Allen and his family not to know where their congregation could call home.
“That feeling of not having a place and having no family in the area, not really even knowing anybody living in Craig, it was a little bit nervous,” Allen said. “At the same time, though, it was exciting. It was something new. My family and I have never started a church from the beginning.”
Allen went to Commonwealth Baptist College in Lexington, Kentucky, to study to be what he called a “church-planter.”
Now he’s planting that church on Ranney Street.
Victory in Grace Baptist Church, Allen’s church, will move into the old Furniture Gallery building at 385 Ranney St. after purchasing the building a few weeks ago.
Allen knows there are plenty of churches in Craig, but he wants to bring another way to worship to the city.
“One thing we’ll do is have a bus ministry where on Sundays we’ll pick up children, teens, adults without vehicles on the church bus,” Allen said. “Then Wednesday too if we have a children’s program, we’ll pick them up then too.”
Additionally, Allen hopes to bring tent ministry to the region.
A lot of the Colorado area isn’t familiar with tent ministries, and we’ll do that once a year where we put up a tent in an open space — open-air preaching ministry with a tent. That’ll be unique,” he said.”
The whole point, he said, is helping others change through faith.
“What really drives me is seeing family lives changed from maybe broken homes or those that might be broken or mending, helping marriages,” Allen said. “Even those that want to get off alcohol or drugs, to have a way out and a spiritual way.”
The congregation, Allen said, is already growing, even without their permanent home ready yet.
Two weeks ago we had 43 in our service, that’s after being here three-and-a-half months,” he said. “Really phenomenal because our first service we had 23, so we’ve almost doubled in that time when it comes to attendance on our Sunday meetings.”
Allen, of course, is aware of one previous plan for the Ranney Street building — that of a family homeless shelter run by the Housing First Alliance. He wants to be clear that he’s not against something like that, but he was grateful to be able to find himself in the position he’s in.
“The community, churches, even ours, we should be willing to help those in need,” Allen said. “I’m not against a homeless shelter. I’m all for it, in fact, if they have the right facilities for it. You look at that building, what they were thinking, ten families, pods, I don’t know, to me that’s not very private. It’d be crunched in only 6,000 square feet of open area. To me the building looks like a church. Nothing against a homeless shelter. I think there’s a need for that in this community and I’d never shun anyone away here if they needed help or food or even a place to stay a night or two in a hotel or something.”
Allen and his family of six are ready to engage in the community from a ministering perspective.
“The nice thing is all my family, including our children, are involved in the ministry,” Allen said. “They enjoy children, my oldest daughter is the pianist in the church, my oldest and my wife are both Sunday school teachers. The younger children enjoy the bus ministry, picking up kids and riding on the bus, bringing them to church and Sunday school, having a good time.”
Allen hopes to start services at 385 Ranney St. the first or second Sunday of October. The church meets at 10 a.m. Sunday for Sunday school, then 11 a.m. is the main service. An evening service on Sundays follows at 6 p.m.
“Once we get in the new facility, we’ll have Wednesday-night midweek Bible study and prayer services at 7 p.m.,” Allen said.