Once a pumpkin patch, Open Door Church turns 50 | PostIndependent.com

Once a pumpkin patch, Open Door Church turns 50

Del Whittington and his wife Toni stand outside the church they've called home for five decades.
Alex Zorn / Post Independent |

When Pastor Del Whittington started the Open Door Church, its first service was in the American Legion Hall in Rifle with just nine members. Now, 50 years later, the church will be celebrating an anniversary that Whittington could have never imagined it would reach.

On Sunday, Open Door will hold a special celebration honoring the 50 years it’s been a part of the Rifle community.

“We are going to have a great celebration,” Whittington said. “People are coming in from Montana and North Carolina who are former members that moved, and others are coming in from California who helped build the church.”

Back in 1967, Whittington moved to Colorado from California. After holding a revival meeting in southern Colorado, a local pastor told Whittington about Rifle.

“We got to Rifle on Sept. 9 and never left,” he said.

The next day, Whittington and his wife, Toni, celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary.

The next week they held the Pentecostal Church of God’s first service. That church was later renamed Open Door.

“I had questions about coming here,” he said. “We had a 3-year-old and 5-year-old at the time, but once I got to Colorado I knew it was right decision.”

Whittington received land donated from I.D. Kiggens on which to build a new church. The parcel was on Kiggens’ pumpkin patch.

Thanks to a brick mason in California and a little help from local and distant friends, it took Whittington about a year to build the church that stands to this day.

“It’s been one wonderful miracle after another to get us here,” he said. “To carry on our work here has been a true blessing.”

The nondenominational gospel church now has more than 40 members in its congregation and invites the Western Slope community to celebrate its 50 years on Sunday.

The Open Door Church in Rifle holds a weekly service at 10 a.m. on Sundays at its location off of U.S. 6, just west of downtown Rifle.

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