History of St. John’s Memorial Church
St. John’s Church was begun by a handful of Episcopalians who, having to hitch up their horses to travel to Allendale to worship, urged the Bishop of Newark to establish a mission in Ramsey. They first worshipped in homes, and then in the Odd Fellows Hall. Thankfully, in March of 1905, resident Edwin Carpenter donated a triangle of land at the junction of Main and Arch Streets for the cause. George Crocker, whose family had made millions opening California to the steam engine, donated $11,000 to build the church itself in memory of his wife, Emma Hanchett Crocker.
Mrs. Crocker’s three children donated an additional $3,000 that paid for the pipe organ, the church bell and other church furnishings. The Norman style church, designed by William Dewsnap of Allendale, was opened for public worship on February 25, 1906 and was consecrated on May 20, 1906 by the Right Reverend Edwin S. Lines, Bishop of the Diocese of Newark.
St. John’s was a mission church for nearly half a century. After World War II Ramsey began to grow, and in 1951 St. John’s was made a parish church with the Rev. George Robert Dawson, its vicar, becoming the first rector. Under his leadership, a parish hall was built and a parking lot was established across Main Street.
Over the years, St. John's has been the host to many dignitaries including Bishop Desmond Tutu who, during his term as assistant bishop to Bishop John Spong officiated the confirmation of St. John's class of 1979. In 1996, the St. John's Renaissance campaign, during the tenure of Rev. Richard Louis, resulted in a significant renovation of the sanctuary, including new pews, flooring, a state-of-the-art heating system and the installation of a custom-built Lawrence Nevin pipe organ.
In 2006, St. John’s proudly celebrated its 100th Anniversary. Parishioners found many ways to mark this historic event including an Evensong Service using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, a Morning Prayer Service with Holy Eucharist using the 1892 Book of Common Prayer, a musical extravaganza, and a centennial dinner. Bishop John Palmer Croneberger officiated at the service commemorating St. John’s consecration. An organ recital and an Evensong of Remembrance completed the year of special events. In May 2007, a time capsule was sealed which will be opened in 2031.
2013 was a milestone year for St. John’s commitment to stewardship by launching their Built By Love capital campaign. The completion of the capital project resulted in the renovation of the entire lower level of the building, including new classrooms, offices, a conference room, music rehearsal space, restroom facilities and expanded storage rooms. The success of the campaign encouraged the Vestry to launch a Phase II project to install an ADA elevator and renovate portions of the parish hall which is currently scheduled for a 2018 completion.
Past Clerical Leadership
James W. Jackson 1905-1918 P.H. Asheton-Martin 1935-1946
Raymond W. Masters 1918-1926 Eldon Borell 1946-1950
William L. Cadman 1927-1928 George R. Dawson 1950-1959
Walter B. Wright 1928-1930 Leon H. Plante 1960-1977
Albert R. Chillson 1930-1935 Richard M. Louis 1978-2000
James E. Williams II 2001-2005 Julian Eibin 2009-2016