OUr History

Corona Presbyterian Church began on a Sunday afternoon, July 31, 1904 when 11 Christians met at 959 Ogden Street in the home of Mr. G.A. Anderson. The group prayed for the establishment of the church, which was soon started in the garage of Mr. and Mrs. Calvin Fleming at 901 Clarkson Street.

The church was named after the Corona neighborhood, which took its name from one of the first buildings in the area: Corona School. The school, built in the 1880s, is now call Dora Moore School.

The church property at 8th Avenue and Downing Street was purchased in 1905, and a small cement block building was erected. The minutes of a 1905 session meeting stated, "...there is a membership of 47 and the church as a whole is in flourishing condition..." By 1909, with a membership of 144, Corona had outgrown its small cinderblock building, and ground was broken for a larger chapel.

New Chapel, New Pastor

Corona occupied the new chapel the following year. It was a beautiful brick building with stained glass windows and a tall roof. The chapel sat on the back of the property near the alley, with its main door opening onto 8th Avenue.

In the early years a number of pastors served Corona, including Rev. Merwin A. Stone (1905-1913), and the Rev. Elmer Freed (1925-1930). The church experienced some declining times, and in 1935 Corona was nearly closed by the Presbytery and united with another area church. Elder George Hughes, clerk of session for more than 30 years, said that if only Corona could secure a gospel-preaching pastor the church would grow.

Robert S. Lutz, a student a Princeton Seminary, came to service the church in 1935. Pastor Lutz finished his seminary training and was ordained and installed on July 9, 1936. The church began to grow, and Pastor Lutz served Corona for the next 40 years.

Corona became a mission-oriented church, as many young men and women went out from the congregation to work as ministers, missionaries, and in various full-time Christian service opportunities. More than 50 young people from Corona entered the mission field during Pastor Lutz' time. Support of missions and missionaries has remained an important part of Corona to this day.

In 1948 a team of young people went with Pastor Lutz to form First Presbyterian Church of Englewood, which today recognizes Corona as an integral part of its own history.

Eisenhowers and Mariners

Dwight D. Eisenhower and his wife Mamie were regular attendees of Corona. Mamie had grown up in the neighborhood and had attended both Corona Presbyterian Church and Corona School. The Eisenhowers spent summers in Colorado. Mamie's parents, the Douds, lived at 750 Lafayette Street. The Eisenhowers maintained a summer home at 840 Ogden Street.

The Eisenhowers helped raise money for a new church building, which was completed in 1954 and includes the current sanctuary. The Eisenhowers donated Corona's large pulpit in 1955. The pulpit bears the inscription: "Dedicated to the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. 'If ye continue in My Word, then ye are My disciples indeed, and ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free'. John 8:31-32"

In the early 1950s Corona formed a Mariners group along with many other Presbyterian churches. The Mariners have been a Sunday school and fellowship group that supports missionary work. The Mariners have provded the church with leadership for many decades. Today they are fewer in number, and are cherished for their faithful service and friendship to the body of believers at Corona.

During the late 1960s and into the 1970s, as Denver's suburbs expanded, many members left Corona for outlying areas and became leaders in suburban churches. Corona went to a single service as membership declined. In 1971, Hillside Presbyterian Church merged with Corona. Hillside's roots dated back to 1886 as the Welsh Presbyterian Church. In 1973-74 Corona embarked on an outreach to every door and apartment within a mile radius to share the good news of God's salvation. By the mid-1970s more than 300 families were listed on the church membership roster.

In 1976, after 40 years of service, Pastor Emeritus Robert S. Lutz retired from Corona. He continued in ministry for several years. he was a missionary in Nepal, and served a Montrose church as interim pastor. He also served in Renton, Washington as a pastor to seniors. Eventually, he and his wife, Ruth, moved to Spokane, Washington to be close to their daughter. He passed away in 1982.

New Addition, New Ministries

Dr. Mike Ladra became senior pastor in 1977. Planning for a new addition began, which was financed through the sale of bonds to church members. The addition was completed in 1981 and included the offices, the multipurpose room, kitchen, and upstairs classrooms.

The 1980s brought many new people to Corona. One of the successful ministries of this time was a singles group that attracted more than 100 people to its Thursday night Bible studies. Many members of this group served as counselors during the 1987 Billy Graham Denver Crusade, and went out from Corona to become Christian leaders, missionaries, and evangelists.

Corona began the Corona Child Enrichment Center, which for many years looked after children from neighboring Dora Moore Elementary School.

That Puppet Team began in 1985 and continued for more than 20 years. Many of Corona's youth learned teamwork, responsibility, and grew spiritually while sharing the gospel through puppeteering.

Dr. Ladra left in 1987 when he was called to be senior pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Salinas, California.

The 9o's

The Rev. Jeff Winter came to Corona in 1989. He built upon the small group movement that began in the 1980s and continued Corona's tradition as a "Christ-centered Bible teaching church." Seminary students and associated pastors taught several adult education classes. Contemporary worship was integrated into Sunday morning Services.

Corona sponsored events that appealed to the young and those interested in the arts, including concerts, coffee houses, and literary conferences. Associate Pastor Mike Sares was instrumental in many of these events in his role as singles pastor. Sares later established Scum of the Earth Church in Denver. The Rev. Winter left in 1996 when he was called to lead Bethany Collegiate Presbyterian Church in Havertown, Pennsylvania.

The Rev. Les Avery, a retired pastor of Saint James Presbyterian Church in Denver, became interim pastor at Corona. During this time, a group of members went with Associate Pastor Steve Garcia to form Celebration Community Church in east Denver.

The Rev. Jean Hess joined Corona in 1997 as an associate pastor and served the church in numerous ministry roles until she left Corona in 2008. She served in women's ministry, worship, outreach, evangelism, and led the church during times when there was no senior or interim senior pastor. Her family also served the church in a variety of roles.

The 2nd Century

The Rev. Mike Garrett accepted the call to be Corona's new senior pastor in 1999. He came from North Avenue Presbyterian Church in Atlanta, Georgia. While at Corona, Rev. Garrett completed his doctorate degree.

Dr. Garrett worked with the leadership of the church to establish a new vision statement that focused on being a "bridge to Jesus Christ in Central Denver."

Task forces were established to implement the vision. Neighborhood dinners and events were held. An Alpha course was offered to introduce people to Christ, and a "Parent's Night Out" was organized to provide childcare for neighborhood parents. A Wednesday night series was established, which offered small group fellowship, discipleship and spiritual growth.

Corona celebrated the beginning of its second century in July 2004, with a series of events culminating in a centennial celebration dinner.

Dr. Garrett left Corona in December 2004 to become senior pastor of the 800-member Westminster Presbyterian Church of Snellville, Georgia, which is on the edge of the Atlanta metropolitan area.

In February of 2006, Rev. Nathan Byrd joined the staff as interim senior pastor. Pastor Byrd had served in North Carolina, New Jersey and Colorado, and was a chaplain for the U.S. Army in Iraq before coming to Corona. In late 2006 he returned to active duty with the U.S. Army in Texas to train others to become chaplains. 

PAstor john geiter

Rev. John Geiter and his family arrived in Denver in September 2007 after he accepted a call to be senior pastor of Corona Presbyterian Church. Pastor Geiter's ministry began at Gateway Presbyterian Church in The Dalles, Oregon, which is in the north central part of the state. He was a youth director at Gateway from 1983-1989. He attended Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California from 1989-1993. He received a call to Gateway as associate pastor and ministered there until coming to Corona.

Corona voted in 2013 to leave the Presbyterian Church U.S.A., and join the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians.

In 2017 Pastor Geiter received a call to Pastor an ECO Church in Klamath Falls, Oregon. He moved on from his role as Lead Pastor and Rev. Dr. Ed Black stepped in as Transitional Pastor. As always the Corona Community continues to be faithful to the ways God has called and challenged them, even when it means abrupt changes. 


In February 2019 Corona welcomed Katie and Chuck Fowler and their family to Corona Church to serve as our co-pastors and to plant Corona's new church plant, Nova Church. Chuck began serving in March of 2019 and Katie began serving in June 2019. Corona Church is thrilled to be planting Nova, a new kind of church for a new day of mission.