County Seat: Conejos.
Today was a special day. We started our day with the oldest continuously occupied town in Colorado- San Luis. San Luis is county seat of Costilla County. We will finish our day with the oldest known church in Colorado, found in the town of Conejos, Conejos County. We were honored to visit both historical landmarks in one day, both filled with symbols of the devotion to God that began here long before we were born. The oldest church in the state of Colorado is named “Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church”, which still holds services today. This would be the site where we had our communion and prayer for Conejos County.
Fun Fact: According to the 2023 census, this beautiful and historical town has a population of 7. This is an increase from the 2020 census, which records the population as 0. It is plentiful with rabbits, however, as Conejos County was named after the Spanish word “conejo”, meaning “rabbit”. We may not have met any people there, but we met God there.
I can tell you that, while the population of Conejos may be small, the County of Conejos certainly chose this town to be a moving memorial for the war veterans who gave the ultimate sacrifice, unlike any memorial we have seen on this journey. More on that in a moment.
Our first stop was the church. I need to mention what a history this building carries. In the early 1800’s, settlers had come to this area in covered wagons, horses and on foot, with their families and all their earthly possessions packed tight on mules and horses, looking for a place to settle and peacefully worship God. This church was the result, and in 1863 the first structure was built as a “jacal” or an adobe, picket type hut. These huts were simple, made with poles tied together and covered with mud and clay, typically with a thatched roof covering. Later this original structure was replaced with a larger and more permanent church building. However, in 1926, tragedy came. A fire destroyed this church building except for a few of the inside items. Thankfully, this included some of the church records, but only parts of the adobe walls and towers remained. It was decided that the church would be rebuilt on the original site. The beautiful church building we saw today was that rebuilt church. Even though the structure was rebuilt as result of fire, in 1863 in Guadalupe- now known as Conejos- Our Lady of Guadalupe Church began.
After our time of prayer and worship, we discovered something very moving. On the way out of town, the people of Conejos had made the whole street a memorial. Every few feet, there was another flag on a post, with the name of a veteran that “gave all”. These were placed on both sides of the road, and it seemed to stretch for miles. It was one of the most moving memorials we have seen yet. It was simple but spoke volumes. At the memorial “Freedom Isn’t Free”, Tony wanted to say the pledge to the flag in honor of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice. Then he saluted the statue for a long time. This spot became a memorial prayer meeting for us. It was beautiful.
Across the street was the sheriff’s office. He was just leaving but we were able to catch him before he left and ask him what we could pray for him and for Conejos County. His response was to “pray that people would stop making wrong choices and make good ones”. We were privileged to pray with him, for the county, for his prayer requests and for protection for him and his family. We prayed they would know how much they were loved by God and appreciated by so many people. As we drove through town, we passed the post office and the county courthouse, and prayed over both. There was one more memorial here- the memorial to the unborn.
Lord, protect the babies here and across America. Thank You that even though few in number, the people of Conejos County take pride in those who fought for America, and for those they fought for. Bless this place Lord, with Your light. May Conejos residents see Your light everywhere they turn, and know they are treasured, and loved incredibly by You. Show them the plans You have for their lives and never let them forget their great worth in Your sight. Let them embrace Jerimiah 10:6-7; “There is NONE LIKE YOU, Oh Lord. You are great, and great is Your NAME in might. Who would not fear You, Oh King of the nations. INDEED IT IS YOUR DUE! For among all the wise men of all the nations, and in all their kngdoms, THERE IS NONE LIKE YOU!” Thank You for Conejos County.