New gathering spot in Carbondale |

New gathering spot in Carbondale

John StroudCarbondale correspondentAspen, CO Colorado
Trina Ortega/Valley JournalKathy Pike speaks at last Fridays My Life With Cloud, An Evening With Ginger Kathrens event at the Church at Carbondale Gathering Center. The center is now open and available for public events. An open house is planned Saturday afternoon.

CARBONDALE A local church known for its motto A Fun Place to Get Serious with God, offers more than a place to worship these days.With the Church at Carbondales recently completed new addition, known as the Gathering Center, its also a place to make connections with the larger community by serving as a conference center, as well as just a place to hang out for some serious relaxation.The Gathering Center and the newly completed church entryway are being formally dedicated this weekend with a community open house from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 1. There will be public tours, as well as music and refreshments and a chance to see what the new 11,000-square-foot addition to the church building on Snowmass Drive has to offer.The Gathering Center features a large, open, ski lodge-style main floor, with Mount Sopris views and a stone fireplace, a performance stage, two conference rooms, a commercial kitchen, a coffee bar called Common Grounds, plus an outdoor amphitheater and gas fire pit out back.The center has already hosted a couple of public events, including last weekends My Life with Cloud presentation by filmmaker Ginger Kathrens. And the church is making the space available to rent for other events and private parties, conferences, meetings and seminars.Designed by local architect John Baker, working with general contractor Taylor & Taylor Construction and Design, the $3 million Gathering Center and new main entryway were made possible by a pair of donors who wished to remain anonymous, said Church at Carbondale Pastor Doug Self.Its important to point out that this is not just for the church; its really way more than we need, Self said. This is our gift to the community, thanks to a gracious gift that we received.In addition to hosting events, Self said he envisions the Gathering Center being a place where people can stop by any time of the day for some coffee, a light snack and a quiet place to meet or get some work done on the computer, as there is also free Internet access.The worlds really busy, and people dont always take the time to stop, and reflect, and relax, he said. We see this as a place to kick back and talk, and maybe build some relationships that are going to matter.Scott Robinson, a longtime church member, has been hired as the full-time Gathering Center director. Robinson brings more than 20 years of experience in the hospitality business, including a 15-year stint at the Cheyenne Mountain Inn in Colorado Springs, and during his eight years in the Roaring Fork Valley at the St. Regis-Aspen and the Crestwood at Snowmass Village.Robinson is finalizing a schedule for the center to be open to the public throughout the week, in addition to serving as the main venue for the churchs various adult and youth ministry programs all week long.The design for the new church entryway and the Gathering Center were intended to complement each other, but also give some separation between the two distinctly different parts of the building, architect Baker said.We didnt want people coming into the Gathering Center as the main entrance to the church, Baker said. So we created a larger entryway on the front to get away from the boxy feel of the original building, which also resembled the Gathering Center in character.The sections have similar roof forms with separate entries, but with a landscaped walkway and ramada tying the two areas together.What we wanted to do was create a building that could be used by the community, and would invite them in, Baker said.As for the interior design of the center, Baker said he attended one of the church services to get some ideas.In general what we wanted was a large space where large numbers of people could gather informally and formally after church, but also with small, intimate gathering spaces, he said. I think we ended up with what I envisioned in the very beginning. People are happy, and it functions the way they want. Thats my reward for the project.The building also includes a number of energy conservation features, such as super efficient Structural Insulated Panels for the ceiling, compact fluorescent lighting fixtures, passive solar design, and solar screens to keep the heat out in the summer.Also part of the design team were local architect Ron Robertson, Brad Reed, a friend of Bakers from Cortez, and Susan Reed, who did the interior design.The new additions to the building also usher in a new era for the growing Church at Carbondale.Founded in 1990, the church met for 14 years in the former high school auditorium. The property for the new church building was purchased in 1994, and following a lengthy capital campaign the first phase of the building was completed 10 years later. Self said the church now has about 250 to 300 regular members.Saturdays open house kicks off a series of building dedication events, continuing with the regular Saturday Church at Nite dinner and worship at 6:30 p.m. in the Gathering Center, and on Sunday, Nov. 2, with the regular 9 a.m. Sunday School and first service, and 10:15 a.m. Family Church and second service.

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