The Years of Preparation
Jesus said, “I will build my church” Matthew 16:18
In the summer of 1978, while traveling throughout the New England states, God placed the burden for Highlands Baptist Church upon the heart of Jeff Musgrave. During a visit with his fiancée, Anna Mitchell, in Denver, Jeff met Ed Nelson - pastor of South Sheridan Baptist Church. Pastor Nelson had long been burdened for the need to see good churches established in the Denver metro area. He encouraged the Musgraves to consider ministry in Denver with the purpose of establishing a new local church. The Lord continued to confirm this work and soon ideas formed into plans and plans became realities. In 1983 Jeff Musgrave decided that while South Sheridan Baptist Church prepared for a new church planting endeavor he would remain one year in South Carolina as an assistant pastor of Faith Baptist Church.
According to the Musgraves, the move to Denver was a frightening one. Although South Sheridan had made plans to provide for them, there remained many uncertainties. Upon their arrival to Denver on Sunday, August 5, 1984, the Lord provided a wonderful home, and the family moved in the following week. Though more hurdles existed the Lord was clearly demonstrating His faithfulness to provide for and build His church.
The Formative Years
Steps were initiated to assemble with believers interested in
establishing a new local church. A group of sixteen people began meeting in the Musgraves’ home on
Monday evenings to pray about a meeting place. Jeff Musgrave was searching for a place to meet while he met weekly with Ed Nelson for prayer. The area being considered was new and largely undeveloped, but a meeting place was not easy to find. The only available places were in public schools. God eventually opened Willow Creek Elementary School. The doors had been closed, but late
one evening after an encouraging prayer meeting at South Sheridan, the principal of Willow Creek called and said that the building had unexpectedly been vacated. God’s hand was clearly seen.
On Sunday morning, October 27, 1984 the first service of the newly named Willow Creek Baptist Church was held. Forty people attended.
The Years of Challenge and Trust
In the first two years the young assembly faced various challenges creating instability and a high turnover rate. Since many of the problems could be traced to the temporary meeting place an alternate location was sought. Through providential circumstances God provided a brand new, completely furnished building that was perfectly suited for the church’s immediate needs. God was teaching this young church to trust Him, to depend on Him, and to seek His kingdom first.
The Years of Growth and Stability
The office building served its purpose but also caused confusion since it was difficult to find. In searching for a permanent location, Ed Nelson sought advice from a real estate friend. Eventually, over one year later, a place had been located for the church. The land at County Line Road and Clarkson Street was ideal. Better yet, the property was to be donated. At the end of the business day on December 31, 1987, more than five acres of land valued handsomely was signed over to the fledgling assembly. God continued to show Himself strong.
Highlands Baptist Church (formerly Willow Creek Baptist) will remember 1988 as a year of growth and stability. On the fourth anniversary Sunday there was a record attendance of 79 people.
Building Up and Reaching Out
Having planned the first building phase, the small band of dedicated people raised enough funds to begin construction on a new 10,000 square foot building. The Lord faithfully provided through His people to construct the building and finish the lower level. The following year Highlands outgrew the initial meeting area. It was time to move into the large unfinished auditorium upstairs.
God’s blessing upon Highlands has been seen many times throughout the years. One notable blessing Highlands has enjoyed is leadership stability. Only two senior pastors have served at Highlands over the years. After 26 years of pastoring at Highlands Baptist Church, Jeff Musgrave answered God’s call on his life to enter into a full-time itinerant ministry, training and enabling Christians to make disciples. The congregation willingly commissioned Jeff into this new phase of ministry in 2010. On November 1, 2010 the congregation joyously voted in Steve Hafler as their new senior pastor with a 99% vote.
New converts continue to grow to maturity in Christ and others now serve the Lord in leadership. Mission outreach is deliberate as we target unreached and less reached areas. God has given Highlands a great history, a solid foundation, and an exciting future!