Authentic Life offers approachable church experience

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By Deborah Swearingen

When Bruce Fosdick, Sandy Young and numerous others set out to start a church, they didn’t imagine how quickly everything would fall into place.

But somehow it did. And as Authentic Life Church closes in on three months in existence, church staff says it averages nearly 450 people in attendance at each weekly service.

“It just exploded when we started, which is pretty cool because we started with about 80 people,” Young said.

The church, located off West Coal Mine Avenue near Shiloh House in the old Church of All Nations building, is an evangelical Christian church. According to the church’s story, written by Pastor Fosdick, Authentic Life hopes to help people build authentic relationships with God and others.

Fosdick is a “laid back, down-to-Earth kind of guy,” and it makes him approachable to anyone who might be tentative about joining a church.

“Because … he’s very willing to share his story, what has happened to him in his life, it’s appealing to people that maybe wouldn’t necessarily go to church,” Young said.

“We are kind of trying to show people they don’t have to be perfect to come to church. This is a place that you can just be your story,” she later added.

Since Authentic Life is in a building that had already been a church, it retained a lot of the old church members and moved into a well-equipped space that didn’t need much work. There is a large sanctuary, office space, a coffee and gathering area, children’s classrooms and worship spaces and more.

Fosdick and Young, who serves as the church’s mission director, agree that everything moved forward with a lot of prayer. And Fosdick recognized that it was “all hands on deck,” as the congregation shifted from his living room into a church that can house hundreds.

Community partnerships

In addition to the church, a number of other entities utilize the space on West Coal Mine, including the Open Arms Food Bank and Aspen Creek Academy.

Open Arms has been in operation since 2002. Every Tuesday, it opens its doors as a grocery store of sorts for those in need. Area stores such as King Soopers, Trader Joe’s, Starbucks and Little Caesars Pizza donate, and customers can shop for free food on a first-come, first-serve basis. Additionally, there is a boutique with donated clothes and household goods that people can peruse before the food bank officially opens.

As co-director of the food bank, Darla Olds has learned that anyone can fall on hard times and find themselves in need of a trip to the food bank. While people may have preconceived notions about what is distributed at food banks, Open Arms offers much more than a canned good or two. The food bank has fresh produce, bread, meat and much more.

“There’s a whole lot of kindness for people at the stores as well. … It’s just as easy to throw it in the dumpster,” Olds said.

For Young and Authentic Life, Open Arms is an opportunity to spread the word about the church but also a chance for service.

“As long as we all still have this building, it would all keep going. … We see at it as, like I said, this is a local mission for the church. And so this is a place that we can give back and also be a light in this community,” Young said.

Want to go?
Authentic Life Church and Open Arms Food Bank are located at 6500 W. Coal Mine Ave. To learn more about the church and check out some upcoming services, visit www.authenticlifechurch.com. To find out more about Open Arms, visit www.openarmsfoodbank.org.