The History of St. John's Memorial Episcopal 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, with a dedication officiated by Bishop Beckwith in 2016, resulted in the reconfiguration and renovation of the entire lower level of the building, including new classrooms, offices, conference room, music rehearsal space, vesting room/lounge, restrooms, kitchenette, and expanded storage rooms as well as air-conditioning in the church and parish hall and an automatic backup generator system.  The success of the campaign encouraged the Vestry to launch a Phase II project to install an ADA elevator, updated the electrical system, reconfigure the upstairs hallway, add restrooms, replace carpeting, and update the parish hall with new hardwood floors and a coffered ceiling. As with the original campaign, BBL Phase II was fully funded by pledges and was completed in 2020.

                                         Past Clerical Leadership

James W. Jackson       1905-1918              Eldon Borell               1946-1950

Raymond W. Masters   1918-1926             George R. Dawson    1950-1959

William L. Cadman       1927-1928              Leon H. Plante          1960-1977 

Walter B. Wright           1928-1930              Richard M. Louis       1978-2000

Albert R. Chillson         1930-1935              James E. Williams II  2001-2005

P.H. Asheston-Martin   1935-1946              Julian Eibin                2009-2016