OUR FUTURE STORY
South Broadway Christian Church is an historic church and has been given "Landmark" designation by Historic Denver. This is largely because of its unique architectural design. Of greater importance, however, is the story of its beginning.
South Broadway Christian Church owes its existence to a rather unique set of circumstances. In 1888, John Sutton and his wife, Henrietta, lived near South Broadway and Bayaud Avenue. They were members of Central Christian Church, located about two miles north at 20th and Broadway. Henrietta loved flowers and was in her garden that summer when she tripped over a wire and fell, injuring herself so severely that she soon died at the age of 54. The Reverend Bayard Craig, pastor of Central Christian Church, was called. His words and prayers were a great comfort to the Suttons in the last hours of Henrietta's life.
One year later, in the fall of 1889, Reverend Craig had resigned as pastor of Central Christian Church, had sold his house and was in the process of moving to a church in California. John Sutton approached him with a proposal to honor the death of his wife, Henrietta. He offered to donate $12,000 (a large sum of money at that time) if Reverend Craig would help him start a new church in the South Broadway area. Reverend Craig prayed about the offer and accepted it, abandoning his California plans and saying that he felt it was a call from God. On January 16, 1890, thirty-eight people assembled at 50 West 2nd Avenue, drew up and signed a resolution and covenant and formed a new church. They called it South Broadway Christian Church.
The growth of the new church was phenomenal and John Sutton erected a large tent (they called it a "Tabernacle") near his home on South Broadway. For the next 2 years church services were held in the tent and attendance grew to between 500 and 600 people. Heating in the winter months was provided by potbellied stoves. When it rained the people brought umbrellas as the roof was not waterproof. During this time plans were made to build a permanent structure at the corner of Ellsworth and Lincoln streets and construction was started. On June 28, 1891, the cornerstone was laid with Colorado Governor John L. Routt officiating at the ceremony. One of the articles placed beneath the stone was the bible of Mrs. Henrietta Sutton.
The first use of the new church was a baptismal service on Sunday May 1, 1892. Four people were baptized by immersion. Five weeks later on June 5, 1892, the church was officially dedicated. Eight hundred Sunday School children from all the Christian Churches in Denver marched from the old tent to the new building. Reverend Craig offered the invocation and the congregation joined in singing "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name."
The $12,000 given by John Sutton had long been used up and he responded by giving all of his assets, nearly $30,000 and almost half of the total cost, to the new church. He made one request, that he be given the use of two rooms in the tower of the church where he could live out the remainder of his days. John Sutton died February 18, 1901, at the age of 81, and was buried in Riverside Cemetery. He was affectionately known as "Uncle John" and was referred to as the Father of South Broadway Christian Church.