Basalt Community United Methodist: A community service mission | AspenTimes.com

Basalt Community United Methodist: A community service mission

Paul Conrad/Aspen Times Weekly

When the midvalley is involved in some type of goodwill effort, chances are that Marie Gasau is in the middle of it.

The pastor at the Basalt Community United Methodist Church has tirelessly worked since 1995 both to improve conditions for the needy within the Roaring Fork Valley and to export good fortune to other areas of the world.

While holding religious services is important to her and the congregation, it’s not the only dimension of their faith.

“I think if all we do is meet to have services, we’ve missed it,” Gasau said. “We’ve been blessed so we can do the blessing.”

This week the church is working with other organizations to collect toys that will be offered to local families in need. The congregation has worked for years with other churches and service organization to distribute between 50 and 100 Thanksgiving food baskets in the valley. Gasau and members of her flock help at least once per month at Extended Table, which feeds the homeless in Glenwood Springs.

After the horror of 9/11, Gasau was among Basalt leaders who organized a community meeting to try to expand understanding of the Muslim religion. The congregation assembled care packages to send to U.S. troops for their first Christmas in Iraq; they sent health packages to the war-ravaged people of Afghanistan.

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“The ‘community’ piece of Basalt Community United Methodist Church is a really huge piece,” said Doug Pratte, who has attended services there since 1986 with his wife, Julie. He credits the atmosphere at the church for inspiring his two children to get involved in service projects.

Mary and Peter Delany also have been members of the congregation since 1986 and raised their kids with a strong faith background.

“It’s a caring, close-knit and accepting congregation. But there’s also always been a strong underlying belief in putting our faith into action through various forms of community service,” Mary Delany said.

Gasau is proud of various programs the church has tailored to kids and young adults. She is all for adapting to changing needs and desires.

“We reclaim [the congregation’s identity] with each generation,” she said.

One of Gasau’s more unique interests is repairing relations with alienated people closer to home. Her congregation has an ongoing service relation with the Ute reservation in southwest Colorado. The Utes once welcomed people to the Roaring Fork Valley, she noted, then they were driven away.

“I don’t think we’ll ever heal until the Utes come back and feel this is their place as well,” she said.

The Rev. Gasau is a warm and outgoing person. You really believe it when she delivers an enthusiastic greeting like, “It’s good to see you.”

She became the pastor in Basalt in 1995, and her influence extends beyond her congregation. She has organized musicals at Basalt High School for years.

One of her toughest challenges was overseeing the congregation’s relocation from the 1896 church on Homestead Drive in Basalt. Despite the emotional attachment, they relocated in 2003 to a larger building in Holland Hills. The lack of parking and inaccessibility of the original sanctuary overrode the historical ties to the building.

Gasau said attending to one another’s needs and to those of the broader community is more important than where the members congregate.

“All of us, from time to time, are in need of help,” she said.

scondon@aspentimes.com