A new level: Breckenridge church wraps up major renovation project
For over 20 years, St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church has served weekly meals to the area, and with its new Gathering Place — a basement level of the church that will host various functions — community dinners are back in full swing.
At the June 28 kickoff, over 400 people received meals from the church and local restaurant partners. The kickoff celebrated the yearslong process to expand the lowest level of the church.
The Rev. Charles Brumbaugh, rector of St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church, said that talks about upgrading current facilities began several years ago. Over time, the project evolved from small improvements to the addition that was completed this year.
“At our annual parish meeting in January 2017, the idea was first raised that our little yellow church with the red doors needed to be spruced up a little bit — you know, some new carpet here, a little fresh paint there,” Brumbaugh said. “After a civil engineer noted that our foundation was in deep trouble, the scope of the project expanded tenfold. In short, we needed to lift our beautiful, historic church off the ground and pour a concrete foundation under the entire facility.”
St. John’s leadership had the development agreement application approved by Breckenridge Town Council in September 2019, but the development agreement wasn’t officially approved until March 2020 due to changes and the need for approval from the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado. The church then brought the project to the town planning commission in May of 2020 and received the go-ahead.
On March 11, 2020, St. John’s congregation met for the last time before the pandemic, and Brumbaugh said restoration and renovation on the church began and shortly thereafter. In the meantime, most services and Bible studies were done virtually on Zoom, and church members occasionally met in Father Dyer United Methodist Church.
Stu Read, chair of the church’s Renovation Committee, said that because the church could not be built out, the foundation issues provided the opportunity to build down, instead. He said the hardest part of the multiyear project was excavation underneath the building.
“It was an amazing undertaking, because we didn’t know what we were going to get into or what we would find,” Read said. “You might find a huge boulder down there that we’d have to blast apart or whatever — obviously increasing the cost of the project and so forth.”
Read said the project cost over $3 million.
Over two years since its last in-person worship service, St. John’s hosted its first service inside the church on Palm Sunday in April of this year. Read said that the Renovation Committee was dissolved as of last week, and that the project could not be completed without the many subcommittees and dedicated church members who donated time and funding pledges to the project.
“There were four of us on the Renovation Committee, and that first meeting was in January of 2019, so we’ve been meeting at least every other Friday, since that time,” Read said. “We are very pleased to have completed the project. We definitely feel it was a labor of love, and we’re blessed to be chosen to do it. It is certainly wonderful to have the project behind this and to turn it over to the Vestry now to move forward with our new church.”
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