History of Cranmer Memorial Chapel
It was in 1981 that Victor Vestman, a Winter Park developer who had used a small cabin to house workers but who no longer needed it, donated the building to the Diocese of Colorado to be used as a house of worship. This was during the service of the Rev'd Chappell Cranmer, who had just visited the small island of Iona off the coast Scotland. Iona had been the base for St. Columba, the Irishman who evangelized Scotland in the 6th century. It was Fr. Cranmer who suggested the chapel be named for St. Columba, and it was consecrated with that name.
After Fr. Cranmer's death in the year 2000, the congregation honored his long service in East Grand County by renaming the chapel Cranmer Memorial Chapel. The wall of the chapel features photos from Chap's life, including pictures from the ill-fated expedition he joined to climb K2 in 1939 and pictures with his wife Betty. Betty Cranmer is still an active and vital part of life at St. John's. Mr. Vestman's widow, Mary Jane, is today a supporter of the chapel's ministries.
In addition to the regular Saturday evening services, Cranmer Chapel has over the years been used as a temporary home for other churches, Bible studies, and AA meetings. For many years, it has been the site of the "Cranmer dinners," free dinners offered every other week during ski season, for workers at the ski slope and others needing warm meals. This project, originally centered in St. John's, has grown under the leadership of Joan Von der Heiden to include a wide participation of many other churches and community organizations. Some 20,000 Cranmer dinners have been served, and meals are now also provided to shut-ins. Occasionally a summer "Anglican High Tea" is served on the grounds as a fundraiser for the chapel and St. John's.