United Church Celebrates 70th Anniversary

The United Church of Los Alamos on Canyon Road. Courtesy photo

By Bernadette Lauritzen
Los Alamos

The United Church of Los Alamos is celebrating a great many things with the hiring of a new director of Christian Ministries, Kara Windler and 70 years in the community this weekend.

“The 70th Anniversary Celebration is a great time to remember and give thanks for those who have enriched the lives not only of this church but the Los Alamos community,” Reverend Keith Lewis said. “When I look on the wall of LANB I see numerous folks from our church who are Los Alamos Living Treasures, the church has been a vibrant part of the life of the town.”

In 1947, a small group of women started the formal process of officially creating a church in the community and today the effort of that small group has inspired many.

“It’s wonderful to be part of this 70th year celebration because I get to see the excitement and gratitude in the eyes of members of this church who contributed to the ministry for so many of these years,” Senior Pastor David Elton said. “They help the rest of us have a greater appreciation for what it means to be involved in ecumenical ministry as a multi-denominational church.”

One of those people that shines their light on others is Charter Member Krik Krikorian. Elton recently had the honor to visit with Krikorian who told Pastor Elton, “We’re a church in a science town where you have a large faith presence.”

Krikorian is one of those members who make a new person feel welcome and a young person feel like they have come home. Another community icon is member Georgia Strickfaden, who grew up in this community and roamed it on horseback during her youth. Her earliest memory of the United Church was when Easter services were so big, they had to hold them at the Civic Auditorium.

“I loved going to church while I was growing up, but my dad seldom if ever attended, though he did faithfully maintain the boiler,” Stickfaden said. “I became active in youth groups going into 9th grade.”

Strickfaden recounts history in the making when seeing youth groups emerge. “Lee Chambers, Linda Witteman and others got Dottie and Milo Smith to be the youth sponsors, and agreed to get something like a dozen 9th graders out to first meeting,” Strickfaden said.

She attended as a favor to the peer leaders, with no intention of coming back. That night, as they did back in the day, the self-organizing kids elected officers and she never left.

She and husband Gerry were married Aug. 4, 1973 at The United Church. That was before the Manse was there, so their reception was on the lawn on the east side of the Sanctuary.

“Throughout the years I’ve enjoyed the fellowship and inquisitiveness of the United Church, and it must be that I felt loved and accepted,” Strickfaden said. “I appreciate being challenged in my faith journey within the church, which has drawn me closer to our Lord. I still love going to church/worship.”

Strickfaden has taught, served on many committees and even held a position on the Search Committee that called former Pastor Jay Dee Conrad. The former member is “coming home,” this weekend, returning to the pulpit this Sunday with a 9:30 a.m. service only. Conrad served as Senior Pastor from 1993-2003.

A dinner and reminiscences is 6 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 4 and reservations must be made in advance by calling the church office at 606.662.2971. A meal of chicken enchilada casserole and pie will be served and donations are greatly appreciated.


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