Ancient Faith, Fresh Encounter, Forever Significance.
Our vision is to see the Gospel transform first ourselves and then the individuals, relationships, societies, and cultures of Denver and the broader region under its influence. We seek to do this by being committed to our core values within the broader tapestry of God’s work in Denver through other faithful churches and organizations.
Saint Patrick Denver is a “city-centered” church that meets in Uptown Denver with a holistic vision for the city. We consist of people who live in many of the diverse neighborhoods in Denver (Cap Hill, Cheesman Park, Whittier, Park Hill, Highlands, Baker, Platt Park, Harvey Park). We believe that the Gospel has a vital impact on all of life. Therefore, we are highly committed to helping Christians work with excellence, be accountable and celebrate their callings whether they be artists, moms, students, or CEO’s. We recognize that we are called by God to steward our resources to support and minister to the poor and broken. We are a church that champions sustainability and social justice, making Denver an even better place to live. And we are committed to reproduce ourselves by planting new churches and to serve as a hub for church planting in the West.
Saint Patrick Denver is a congregation of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).
Our Core Values
By weekly rehearsing the life-changing power of the good news of the Christ, we aim to:
1) Love Denver and the world in tangible and sacrificial ways.
2) Enter into authentic community where we are known and loved.
3) Offer our resources and gifts for social and cultural renewal.
4) Collaborate in the multiplication of churches.
Saint Patrick is a community where small group discussions are special. Our groups are indeed small and are designed to really get to know each other enough to offer and receive hope and encouragement. Our groups are also intentional about loving the people and places around them in tangible ways.
Why Saint Patrick?
Naming is always the first thing we do. When we name, we reveal we are creatures created in the image of God. Usually before an infant is even born, a name has already been picked for him or her. Many times, this name reflects the dreams, hopes, and aspirations the parents have for their child. To name something is to describe it, to articulate a vision and purpose for its existence. We are choosing the name Saint Patrick for the church God will raise up here because it reflects something of our own particular dreams, hopes, and aspirations for Denver. This name connects us with a story that is literally hundreds of years old and with a fresh vision of spirituality that is lived out in the market place with real people.
Saint Patrick was born in Roman-occupied Britain in the fourth century. At age sixteen, his home was raided by Celtic warriors from Ireland, who took him back to Ireland as a slave. After six years of slavery, he heard the voice of God saying, “Go home.” He left the fields, made his way to the coast, boarded a ship, and sailed home. He entered the priesthood and, some years later, again heard the call of God to take the message of the gospel to his former captors, the Irish. When his superiors heard of his desire, they at first were shocked and refused because no one to this point had even considered preaching the gospel to the barbaric polytheistic Celts who fought naked, painted their bodies with blue woad (paint), and offered human sacrifices. Little wonder because, simultaneously, hoards of barbarians were overrunning Christianized Europe! That anybody would attempt such a thing was considered insane from the point of view of personal longevity, much less to think one might be remotely successful. Patrick’s superiors finally relented, and with a cross, a chalice, and faith, he went to Ireland to preach the good news of the Gospel.
Amazingly, the Irish nation was converted without bloodshed, representing the first time Christianity was enculturated outside the Greco-Roman world. But unlike the Greco-Roman civilization, with its Platonic suspicion of the body as unholy, Patrick capitalized on the Celts’ outright, hedonistic, and lewd worship of the body and of creation by explaining that the body as well as all of creation was the handiwork of a benevolent God. The major non sequitur was that this benevolent God sacrificed Himself for the brokenness of His creation so that it could be enjoyed in the light of its original intent. This message, far from causing the Irish to separate creation into its spiritual and desirable aspects versus its physical and evil aspects, helped give meaning and purpose to what they were already pursuing. We might say they fell captive to the compulsive power of a new beauty (the beauty of the Gospel message). Now, all beauty was seen, understood, and defined in light of the ultimate beauty. For the first time, they could keep beauty in its proper place, appreciating it without going to the beautiful for ultimate life. Now, all love was seen, understood, and defined in light of the ultimate love. Consequently, they could love not to get life, but to give life. Now, all courage and valor was seen, understood, and defined in light of the ultimate courage and valor. Now, rather than proving themselves by taking life, they could prove themselves by giving their lives. And this they did with great vigor pouring themselves into what has been come to be know as the monastic movement. And far from causing the Irish to despise culture, the Gospel message gave them a transformed and purposed love for art, literature, and life. The converted Irish copied and preserved the European classical literature on an island safe from barbaric hoards. In time, Patrick’s Ireland began to send missionaries back to Europe, reconnecting her to her historic roots in Christianity. They also brought with them a robust spirituality full of a love for beauty and creation. A spirituality that, while being very human and practical, was also very powerful and very divine.
Our church bears Patrick’s name because we face a similar task. Many today have rejected traditional religion and are seeking life in one form of creation’s abundance or another. And of course, they are finding a semblance of life because this is God’s creation; but ultimately, they are left empty and disillusioned. Often the response of the church to this hedonism is to say, “Naughty, naughty, naughty.” No more compelling vision of true beauty and real life is offered. Consequently, like Europe before Patrick’s mission, we live in a post-Christian society where a distant memory tells us we should be Christian, but where existing evidence seems non-persuasive and powerless.
Saint Patrick Church seeks to be part of a movement that reverses this trend.
But what will enable Saint Patrick to reverse this trend any more successfully than any other church? Of course, this isn’t to say that other churches aren’t doing so, or that such a task can be accomplished by plugging in the right formula or by implementing some new church growth technique. But we must agree that the answer to this question will reveal something of the uniqueness of Saint Patrick Church’s vision. Really our vision isn’t unique. G. K. Chesterson once said, “It is not that the Gospel has been tried and found wanting, it has gone largely untried.” So what we are saying isn’t “unique” or “distinctive” in one sense, but in another sense, astoundingly so. We have lost the melody to the Song we once knew. This Song is what makes life worth singing in all its varying scales of richness. We need to be taught afresh. We need a new and fresh retelling of the historic Gospel. So Saint Patrick is most distinct in its insistence on the “third-way” of the Gospel.
The Gospel really is “not what you think.” It’s counter-intuitive. What do we mean, counter-intuitive? We naturally think that God loves us because we attempt to keep His laws, like a parent who approves of a child when he or she gets good grades. So we migrate between the poles of trying hard to keep His Law in order win his favor, or completely giving up, thinking we can never meet the demands of His Law. It often never occurs to us that the purpose of God’s law is to reveal our total inability to keep it in order to get us to gaze in wonder and amazement upon the beauty of Christ, who kept it for us. In other words, some people think they more or less succeed in their attempts, so they become good pretenders and excellent judges. Others are too honest to beguile themselves with such nonsense and settle into some pattern of disregard for God’s law, thinking they can never keep it anyway. But the good news is, there is another way. It is the Gospel way. The Gospel way says that God loves us not because of what we do or don’t do, but because of what Christ has done. In other words, when the truth that Christ kept the law for you dawns in your soul, it gives you a whole new motivation and ability to please God. The old way results in polarization between those who think God loves them because they’ve done a pretty good job at keeping his requirements and those who give up the struggle for holiness and throw in the towel and affirm God loves us anyway. Society at-large demonstrates this polarization over and over again with its liberal and conservative cliches. Saint Patrick Church might be best described by our insistence of this “third-way” of the Gospel. This is further described by our core values.
You may notice pretty quickly that worship at St. Patrick is different from your previous experience. If your background is a Protestant evangelical church you may wonder, “Why the liturgy?” If your background is Roman Catholic, Orthodox, Episcopal or Anglican, you may recognize certain aspects but wonder, “Why so casual?” Let me do my best to explain. All worship has structure whether or not someone has given careful thought to how it is structured. Worship is also pedagogy meaning we are teaching something about how we are accepted by God whether we acknowledge it our not. Furthermore, we don’t simply craft our worship; we are crafted (formed) by our worship. Corporate worship is essentially a rehearsal of the Gospel story and should engage the mind, the emotions, and the will. Even a casual historical study of worship liturgies reveal the following outline of the story: 1) Truth about God. (stated in Call to Worship and Scripture Readings) 2) Confession. Acknowledgement of how we have fallen short of this truth about God in thought, word and deed by doing what we shouldn’t have done and by not doing what we should have done. (Recited in Corporate Confession of Sin) 3) Explanation of Christ as the fulfillment of our failure. (Confession, Pardon, AND COMMUNION WITH CHRIST IN THE LORD’S SUPPER) 4) Praise to the Father for the gift of the Son (Hymn of Assurance) 5) Sent out to be the people of God in the world. (Hymn of Commitment and Benediction). We call this a “gospel-driven liturgy” because it seeks to make the comprehension of God’s provision of Christ both the goal and power of true worship. Again reflectively considered it should engage our minds, wills, and emotions. When we fail to include any part of this outline it can result in imbalance and/or foster misconceptions. For example, if our liturgy is just filled with the first step in the cycle of reciting truth about God, not only would we be imbalanced toward just engaging the intellect we would also risk the danger of communicating that God’s acceptance of us is based only upon what we know. But failure to engage the mind with God’s truth could result in an imbalance toward emotion and thinking that God’s acceptance of us is based upon what we happen to feel or not at a particular moment. The specific cycles omitted will determine the kind of imbalances and misconceptions possible. We acknowledge that nobody gets it right every time and that there are numerous ways to craft liturgy using the outline of the Gospel story. Again, we are saying that we are committed to giving great attention to the way our liturgy is crafted in order to offer the Gospel as the goal and power of true worship.
IF YOUR BACKGROUND IS DIFFERENT WE ENCOURAGE YOU TO BE WILLING TO GIVE THE LITURGY SOME TIME. We find this often helps you begin to understand and appreciate what we are seeking to do. We also encourage you to ask questions.
 See James K. A. Smith, Desiring the Kingdom.