First Baptist pastor ready for new journey

If churchgoers at First Baptist Church are business leaders or convicted criminals, Len Browning doesn't mind.

The church is there to help, Browning said, no matter what kind of trouble people have had.

Browning, 46, the new pastor at the church, said he has this message for people: "Bring your baggage, and we'll figure it out together."

Browning has been a member of First Baptist, 1150 W. Ninth St., since he was in his teens. Earlier this month, the church's voting membership affirmed him as the new pastor.

Ivan Wooden, one of the church members who chose Browning, said one reason he wanted Browning to lead the church was that Browning is well-known in the community.

"He just knows a lot of people," Wooden said.

The church's last pastor, Brian Haynes, left the church in May to take a job with a church in Iowa. Haynes had been at First Baptist for eight years.

Browning said he expects to take over full time at the church in about April. He is a salesman for Boy-Ko Supply and has customers in Winter Park and Grand County. He said he told his customers he would stay with the company until the end of ski season.

Browning doesn't have formal training as a preacher, but he has been involved in leadership positions at First Baptist for the better part of the past 25 years.

"I had a passion to be involved in what God is doing at First Baptist," Browning said.

He and his wife, Cheryle, are looking forward to the challenges of the new job, Browning said.

Browning said he looks forward to continuing some of the church's programs, including Celebrate Recovery, a support group for drug addicts.

"We're poised to take that next step in terms of serving our community," Browning said.

Wooden, who is the ministry leader for Celebrate Recovery, said he wanted Browning because of his full support of Celebrate Recovery.

First Baptist, Browning said, is a place where people who may be burned out or frustrated with traditional-minded churches can come and feel comfortable.

People who are in Craig serving time at Correctional Alternative Placement Services often go to the church, Browning said.

Parolees have said to Browning that when they told people at First Baptist they were in CAPS, they didn't feel awkward about it.

"We don't care if you're a bank president or a recently released parolee," Browning said. "We're all in this journey together."

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