Gil Jones: Village Church closes doors abruptly after fire inspection
Over the past two weeks, the Facebook page for the Village, a nondenominational "seeker" church in Denver's RiNo district, has seen a trickle of heartfelt farewells and laments, from "Gonna miss yall" and "This is sad" to one fan's plaintive "Why??????" Nine months after its launch -- and less than a month after "The Prodigal Pastor," our cover story on its controversial leader, Gil Jones -- the Village has ceased operations, closed its doors and auctioned off its equipment amid circumstances that Jones describes as "disheartening."
More photos below.
The church held its last service in the Glitterdome, a sprawling warehouse on Wynkoop Street that's also been used as a practice facility by the Denver Roller Dolls, on September 15.
The immediate cause, according to Jones, was a visit by a city fire inspector in response to a citizen call, which "put the owner of the warehouse on notice to provide occupancy permits for the Glitterdome, removing both us and the Roller Dolls from the building."
A much-shared Facebook photo of Gil Jones.
Yet the fledgling church had struggled in other ways long before the issue of possible fire code violations was ever raised, and additional factors may have played a role in its closure. As reported in my article, Jones is a charismatic but polarizing figure whose personal conduct has come under close scrutiny at several posts. He built Flatirons Community, a Bible-based nondenominational church in Lafayette, into one of the largest megachurches in the state, but left in 2005 after an extramarital affair with a female member of the congregation, who later wrote a book about the episode.
The since-divorced Jones was the lead pastor for several years at Pathways, a "seeker" church off Colfax that grew steadily under his stewardship. But last fall, he resigned that position under pressure from the board of elders and later publicly admitted to another sexual relationship with a Pathways member.
Although some other nondenominational pastors urged Jones not to rush into another ministry, he started the Village three months after leaving Pathways, and several dozen churchgoers followed him there. Jones envisioned his new church as a place of abundant grace and little finger-pointing; but his critics maintained that his emphasis on forgiveness cloaked a persistent self-destructive pattern.
Jim J. Narcy The Glitterdome.
In June, amid allegations of heavy drinking and juggling multiple relationships with women, several abusive text messages Jones sent to one ex-girlfriend became public when the woman sought a restraining order against him. The Village underwent considerable turmoil in its leadership as some supporters left over that episode and subsequent developments.
Continue for more about Gil Jones and the closure of Village Church.