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‘Another miracle of Church growth’

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DENVER, Colo. — Along with a new century, the year 2000 marked a significant anniversary in the history of the Church in Colorado as the Denver Colorado Stake reached its 60th year.

To celebrate this anniversary, the first stake in the area that once encompassed all of northern Colorado sponsored six major events, including a fireside at which Elder Hugh W. Pinnock of the Seventy, president of the North America Central Area, presided and spoke.

The original Denver Stake, created June 30, 1940, occupied an area stretching from Pueblo in the south to Laramie, Wyo., in the north, a distance of 250 miles. Today, 24 stakes have been organized within the area.

Anniversary events included:

A devotional June 30 attended by members from throughout the area, at which Elder Pinnock spoke. Accompanying Elder Pinnock were his wife, Anne; Elder Robert K. Bills, Area Authority Seventy from Denver, and his wife, Susan; as well as Dennis Brown, chairman of the 60th Anniversary Committee, and his wife, Kathleen.

"It is marvelous to see how good, dedicated people, working together, have brought about another miracle of Church growth," said Elder Pinnock, who served as a missionary in Denver 44 years ago. "The spirit that I felt as a young missionary in Colorado prevails here today as is evidenced by these 24 stakes in comparison to the one stake that existed four decades ago."

A history open house, held on June 25. A time capsule was opened that had been sealed into the cornerstone of the stake center in July of 1949. The capsule contained photos, newsletters, lists of participating members and a prognostication of the future from the bishopric of the Denver 1st Ward. Bishop Delmont H. White, and his counselors, George A. Mortensen and Sterling E. Beesley, predicted that by the year 2000, when the time capsule was to be opened, there would at least be five stakes in the Denver area, and that a temple would be erected in Denver. They also predicted that by then the bishopric would finally be changed.

A driving tour of 12 historic buildings, in which Elder Pinnock participated.

Brother Brown said: "The buildings range from the Zang Mansion, used as the Western States Mission home from 1950 until 1981, to the Englewood Branch's small meetinghouse that began as a one-room basement chapel in 1926. An upper floor was not added to the building until 1939. Members transported building materials to the site by street car. They made many trips from the lumber yard, carrying a few boards at a time."

Bronze plaques have been placed on four of these buildings, noting their historical use.

A fireside June 25 with displays of early Church buildings as well as the contents of a 50-year-old time capsule recently recovered from the cornerstone of the stake center. "Opening this time capsule is a sacred opportunity," said Dennis C. Brimhall, president of the Denver Colorado Stake. "It is sacred to know and feel of the spirit of those who prepared its contents and who looked forward with hope to our day."

A musical pageant highlighting six decades of the Church's growth in the area. The lively pageant, called "Builders of Forever," was held on July 1. Members from every ward and even the smallest inner-city branches were featured in period songs and dances. Joann James, pageant director, felt the musical was a great success because of the bonds that were formed during rehearsals and performances.

"Families know that to develop love and unity they need to play and work together. The same is true of stake members," Sister James said. "Members of the Denver stake are so diverse. We're all busy, but we need to do more than work and pray together. This pageant let us laugh and share the jitters. The spirit was strong and brought such an amazing unity to our fun. It makes it easier to join hands in the work."

Church membership in the area has grown dramatically in the last 60 years. Church membership has grown from 2,275 members to more than 75,900 members.

A special "Mormon Night at the Rockies," recognizing contributions that members of the Church make to the community, was held June 14, as the Colorado Rockies, a major league baseball team, paid tribute to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for their efforts to strengthen families and to render service within the community. More than 2,300 members and friends attended the game. During the opening ceremonies, Boy Scouts from Piney Creek Ward, Denver stake, presented the colors. Five outstanding LDS youth were honored, representing the youth of the Church in Colorado based on their excellence: Rebecca McConkie from Colorado Springs, Andrew Miller from Fort Collins, Shanna Dalby from Elizabeth, Juan Jesus Gonzalez from Denver and Susan Christiansen from Littleton.

The Colorado Mormon Chorale also represented the Church by singing the National Anthem in the opening ceremonies.

Dee Ann Ludwig, Denver Stake Public Affairs Director said, "The chorale was a hit. The staff of the Rockies was so impressed by the chorale that they invited them to return to sing at another home game this year."