The Rev. Jason Haskell stood at the podium. Behind him, five musicians and four singers waited silently on stage.
“I think God is a party god,” Haskell said to his congregation Sunday. “If you look at the Scriptures of the Old Testament to the New, you’ll see that he was always into celebration. he would always say, ‘And on this day, set this day aside for celebration, set this day apart for the things I want to do. And rejoice and celebrate.’”
With those words, the band struck up a rollicking song. The congregation waved arms, clapped hands and swayed in celebration.
The congregation and clergy had good cause for celebration.
On Sunday, after two years of planning and construction, New Creation Church was in the midst of its first morning service at its new, 6,000-square-foot church in the Ridgeview neighborhood west of Craig.
New Creation Church first opened its doors in Craig in 2001, when pastors Jason and Tracey Haskell moved to town from Glenwood Springs.
“We’re a non-denominational, spirit-filled church,” Jason said.
Jason said the Craig church is one of three New Creation Churches that have grown out of Glenwood Springs.
“We’re not just up here without any connection,” Jason said of his 150-member congregation. “We’re an extension of the vision of the church in Glenwood Springs. There’s also a New Creation Church in Meeker.”
The church’s first Craig location was a storefront downtown. More recently, the church had been having services at a storefront in the Centennial Mall.
“The mall was excellent to us, but there’s just something about owning your own spot,” Tracey said.
Church member Matt Lindquist said he enjoyed the spacious new location and its amenities, but that’s only part of the picture.
“We’re going to be able to grow and expand into a bigger family,” Lindquist said. “That’s what we’re really excited about.”
Jason expressed similar sentiments during the Sunday service.
“I know there’s a lot of empty chairs, but that’s because we have more chairs out here,” he said. “It’s good to see everybody, and these chairs will soon be full.”
Jason describes his church’s mission as global.
“We’re kind of a world church in a small rural location, but really our heart is for the nations and for the world,” he said. “This building is going to enable us to continue to reach people, to impact them, to train them, and equip them to go out to the nations and to their cities and workplaces and families, and have an impact to bring light into darkness.
“That’s the vision God has given us.”
In the meantime, the church’s motivations include celebration.
For the first hour of Sunday’s service, the church’s new cushioned chairs were forsaken by the dancing members of New Creation, while the band knocked out songs of up-tempo, electrified rock.
Church member Rainer Beran said the music coincides with the church’s view of the afterlife.
“Heaven is not going to be a dull, quiet, boring place,” Beran said. “When you get to heaven, it’s going to be loud and exciting and fulfilling.
“So, do you want to go to heaven thinking that it’s boring and subdued and quiet? Or do you want to go knowing that you’re going to have a great time with God and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
“Which is better”