History of St. John the Baptist, Granby
Although an Episcopal Church was established in Kremmling between the years 1911-1917, and its members succeeded in erecting a building (now the Community Church), it ultimately failed to thrive. The first Episcopal Church in eastern Grand County had to wait for the 1950s.
In 1957, Frank Norton, owner of the Norton Marina on Lake Granby, mentioned to a visiting Episcopal priest that he had not had communion in a long time. The priest offered to celebrate Holy Eucharist there at the marina, and the first Episcopal service was held in the Marina bar. Twenty-two persons were present. There is no record of whether worshipers retired to the bar for “coffee hour,” but it is part of St. John’s lore that our first service was held in a bar!
Perhaps under the inspiration of this service, a number of women gathered to form a chapter of the Guild of St. Teresa—despite not having a church to host it. From this guild grew a habit of weekly Evening Prayer, offered in a pre-fab building donated by Mrs. George Rippey. Eventually the men became involved to fix up and furnish the facility, which was dedicated as the Chapel of St. John the Baptist on Easter Sunday 1959.
In June 1960 the Rev. A.D. Cole became the first Episcopal priest of Grand County, serving both St. John’s and a reconstituted Trinity Church in Kremmling. Under his leadership, funds were raised to purchase property for a proper church building, which was dedicated by Bishop Minnis in 1962.
A notable period in St. John's history is the long service of the Rev. Chappell “Chap” Cranmer, who served St. John’s and Trinity Church from 1969 until his retirement in 1985. During this time, St. Columba’s in Winter Park was established as a chapel of St. John’s, offering Saturday evening services. Chap continued to hold services at St. Columba’s until his death in 2000. The chapel was then renamed Cranmer Memorial Chapel. His widow, Betty, a partner in ministry, continues to play an active role in the life of St. John’s. St. John's has continued to offer a Saturday evening Eucharist in Winter Park for these many years. This service caters to tourists, weekend visitors, those who must work on Sundays or locals who wish to keep Sunday mornings open for recreation.
Upon Fr. Cranmer’s retirement in 1985, Fr. Glen Mahaffey was called as Vicar. Two years later, Fr. John Andrews (Carol and family) was called to serve at St. John’s. Fr. John worked hard to build bridges between denominations and was instrumental in beginning a jail ministry. Trinity and St. John’s continued as linked congregations under one priest. Fr. Cranmer continued to do many of the services at St. Columba’s.
In 1992, Fr. Kelsey Hogue (wife Debbie, and children Jamie & Kelsey Graham) began his ministry with us. The mission of St. John’s achieved parish status in 1998 under Rev. Hogue. For many years St. John’s shared its church building with the Roman Catholics, until their own church was built around the year 2000. The Rev. Spencer Carr, was called in 2001 and served as rector until 2011.
Between the rectorships of Fr. Kelsey and Fr. Spencer, the lay leadership of St. John’s with the assistance of Deacon Sally Hicks planned and raised the funds for a major expansion of facilities. The expansion tripled the size of the building, and provided for a beautiful new sanctuary, sacristy, vesting room, offices, meeting rooms, classrooms, expanded kitchen, and nursery. The sanctuary is furnished with altar, font, lectern, and several other fine pieces by the artist Tim Hinz. The former sanctuary is now a parish hall. A playground was added in 2004.
Through the years, there have been the inevitable clergy changes, parishioners come and go, and the building has changed, but the vision with which St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church (as it is now officially named in Diocesan records) has remained. St. John’s continues to be a healthy, vibrant congregation, poised to move into the future with joy and faithfulness.
*This account is based on information from “The Episcopal Church in Grand County,” in The Grand County Historical Association Journal, Vol. XV, April 2000. The primary research was done by the late Betty Jo Woods.