A blessed home
Post Independent Staff
Three years ago, the property where Sonlight Foursquare Gospel Church is under construction was saved.
In 2001, pastors Bernie and Rhonda Masimer purchased the nine and a half acres where Sonlight’s first home is being built. One year later, the Coal Seam Fire burned to the church’s Mitchell Creek Road property line, stopping before engulfing the modular home that now houses its offices and kitchen facilities.
“It burned on all sides and destroyed both properties next to it,” said Rhonda, who came to Glenwood Springs to head the church with Bernie and their two children, Aaron and Elizabeth, in 1985. “The interesting thing is, one week before the fire, we finished the road and the parking lot where fire trucks could turn around in case of fires.”
Bernie said he and Rhonda were out of town for his father-in-law’s memorial service in Michigan when the fire started. The Masimers, who live two blocks from the church land, arrived in Glenwood Springs just as residents were allowed to return to their homes.
“It was pretty spooky,” said Bernie, who was a lay pastor with Rhonda at the New Horizons Foursquare Church in Grand Junction before relocating to the valley. “Everything around the town was black. Even our house had soot inside.”
Before the fire, the Masimers envisioned a home for their house of worship, with surrounding acreage for church picnics, youth-group and elders meetings, and weddings. Through the years, the church’s congregation has met at the Ramada Inn, the Glenwood Mennonite Church, and Glenwood Springs High School ” where services take place every Sunday until the end of August.
Plans for an established Sonlight Foursquare Gospel Church building were set into motion late last year with the 80-member congregation, Bernie said.
“This past fall was when we started praying and talking to the congregation about building,” he said. “They were 100 percent behind us, and they started funding the project before we even started paying the mortgage. It was very encouraging to see how it all developed.”
D.M. Neuman Construction is building the 5,000-square-foot church, scheduled for completion on Labor Day and dedication on Sunday, Oct. 2. The Masimers said Sonlight parishioners, along with other valley churches and community members, have contributed to the project in different ways.
“We’ve just had gobs of help,” said Bernie, a member of the valley’s Ski Country Pastors group. “There’s been a lot of sharing. I have a cousin who heard we were getting started, and he got all our windows for free and sent us $2,000. It was going like gangbusters from the beginning.”
The Masimers said they aren’t surprised about their congregation’s generosity, as part of the church’s doctrine is “to give, and it shall be given to you.”
“We had never heard of Foursquare before Grand Junction. The secretary where I worked was the widow of a state patrolman who had been murdered, and the church was helping her in many ways,” said Bernie, who was a parole officer for seven years. “We were youth pastors from a layman’s point of view. The pastor there confirmed what we already knew, that someday we would be pastoring.”
Rhonda said she was called to a faith-focused life when she was young.
“The first time I had the call, I was 15 years old at church camp and I heard a sermon called ‘Love the Unholy: This is Religion.’ In retrospect, I know that’s when I got the call,'” said Rhonda, who met Bernie at Hastings College in Nebraska when she was a receptionist at her dorm. The two later married before their senior year.
“When I was in my early 20s, this scripture from Isaiah Chapter 61 kept coming into my head: ‘The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to preach the acceptable year of the Lord.’ I knew God was calling me to set people free, people who were in bondage.”
Rhonda said the church often helps people who have experienced hard times, including trouble with the law, and drug and alcohol addiction.
“One of the ways we have been described as a congregation is as a hospital,” Rhonda said. “It’s a safe place for people to come. People have said they know they’ve become healthier.”
Bernie agreed with his wife of 35 years.
“That’s one of the big things about the church ” it’s a support system in life’s struggles,” he said.
Contact April E. Clark: 945-8515, ext. 518
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