Putting Down Roots: One Family’s Faith and Heart for Wyoming
The outside photo of the new church provided by Calvary Gillette.
An out-of-the-blue phone call from a friend eventually led to a life-changing move last year for the Iken family after they felt a strong calling in their hearts to serve the people of Gillette.
The family of six arrived three days before New Year’s 2019 and received a proper Wyoming welcome as they were greeted by a blizzard, which temporarily prevented them from unpacking their moving truck.
It all started when the friend on the other end of the phone, sparked by the knowledge of the Ikens love for Wyoming, let them know a church building had been sitting vacant for two and a half years. As the ministerial family, led by Pastor Scott and wife Pam, had previously helped plant and establish other churches, they received the message as a potential call-to-action.
Feeling that stir, combined with God drawing them to Wyoming to start a new church, the family then visited Gillette for the second time in their lives.
After touring the church building, and discovering it needed a lot of TLC, the family stood in the parking lot to consider their options. Staring out across the field in front of them, looking toward the part of the city they could see, one of the Ikens’ sons spoke up, saying the family was supposed to be right where they were standing.
So, with Godly council and much prayer, along with encouragement from their four children, the Ikens made the decision to relocate to Gillette, allowing them the opportunity to share the goodness and joy of God with the community.
The first worship gathering of Calvary Church was held in March 2019 in a local coffee shop. Their regular monthly worship service grew to include weekly connect groups in the church building. These small gatherings helped bring together a core team of locals that assisted the Ikens in launching Sunday services on Aug. 25 when the church doors officially opened.
Although it may sound like the church was born quickly, the journey that led to the opening of this church was years in the making.
While the Ikens had primarily been Colorado-based, they spent five years in Jackson from 2006 to 2011, which is where they developed a love for the state.
“Our heart grew for Wyoming,” Scott said.
“It’s about the people of Wyoming,” Pam added. “We have found them to be authentic, friendly, and open.”
“Though statistically nine out of 10 people here don’t know Christ,” Scott noted.
The Ikens said they left awesome people and an amazing church when they moved from Calvary Church in Littleton, Colorado to Gillette. They helped establish that church, as well, and had spent a wonderful five years there. When the family heard the call, their Colorado church told them to go and are now partners with Ikens in support of the new church.
It was that loving church, along with the Ikens’ former Jackson, Wyoming church, that sent teams to Gillette over the summer to help give the building the much-needed TLC.
Scott pointed at the area that now has a stage and band instruments. None of that was there when they arrived, he noted. He motioned his hand toward the wall adding that the entire building had to be painted. Pam said the only thing that was left in place was the carpet.
“We are excited to be here. We’re grateful. We love Gillette,” Scott said.
“God willing, we plan to be here a long time,” Pam added.
The Ikens can be found hanging out at local coffee shops where Pam is excited and happy to get to know people and describes it as a neat environment when strangers are willing to share their stories.
“We want to put down roots and do life with people; that’s our style of ministry,” Pam said. “It’s not about expecting people to walk in the doors. It’s also about forming relationships with people and showing them Christ that way.”
That once abandoned church building, now Calvary Church Gillette, sees around 50 to 60 people through two weekly gatherings.
Sunday afternoons, Pastor Scott can be found strumming his guitar and lifting his voice up as he leads praise and worship. His children assist by playing their favorite instruments as Pam streams the service and prayer time live on Facebook.
“We decided to meet at 3:48 p.m. on Sundays,” Scott said, adding that the time is based off of Psalm 34:8, “Taste and see that the Lord is good; oh, the joys of those that take refuge in him.”
Monday evenings, the Pastor and his entire family, minus one daughter away at college, sit down for a connect group, which is a casual roundtable-type study and discussion that is more of an open forum where attendees can voice and collaborate on how God is currently speaking to them.
Last year, they knew no one here.
One year later, however, while they still feel new, the family is thankful for the friendships they have built within the community and that the church is celebrating its first New Year’s since opening its doors. In looking toward the new year, Pastor Scott shared a quick message.
“God would want you to know that He cares and that He’s really good. And He has good for you. And He has joy as you come to Him,” he said. “God wants to give you the joy that won’t be found anywhere else. Go directly to Him to experience His goodness and the joy that’s found in Jesus.”