“God works in wondrous ways,” Ted Rodenbeck said with a smile lighting up his face as he spoke about his position as lay minister at Chapel in the Pines in Red Feather Lakes.
Rodenbeck was happily retired from a career as a city planner and living in Glacier View Meadows when it became apparent to him that Chapel in the Pines in Red Feather Lakes was in need of an everyday presence. The congregation had grown enough that there was a need for a pastor to visit the sick and provide counseling services on a daily basis.
Since it was founded in the late 1920s, the non-denominational Christian church has never had a permanent minister. For a long time, services were conducted only during the summer months and always by visiting ministers. Ministers come from near and far to enjoy a week in the mountains in a home specially built for that purpose on church property. And then they offer a Sunday service.
During the week Rodenbeck takes over and he’s well-qualified to do so. When he turned 70, he offered his services to the chapel and then spent two years, online and in-person, studying at Wartburg Lutheran Seminary in Iowa to prepare himself for the job.
Chapel in the Pines first came to life in 1929 in a small building on Ramona Lake in Red Feather Lakes, an undertaking by local residents, several of them ministers. It was dedicated as the “Stephen Memorial Church” in 1936. When the congregation outgrew the original chapel in 1961, the congregation began to meet in the Red Feather School.
Within a year, a site for a new church had been donated by the Swanson family and construction had begun on the present building. In the summer of 1963 the first service was held and no one minded that folding chairs substituted for pews for the next six years. The church also lacked a furnace, well and septic system, but still the congregation grew to nearly 100.
In 1969, the comfortable manse was built on the property, making it an appealing place for ministers and their families to enjoy a high-country vacation. In 1988, the Swanson Memorial Garden, the only internment facility in Red Feather, was established.
The addition of a 3,000-square-foot fellowship hall in 2003 meant that the congregation now had use of a kitchen, large and small meeting areas, classroom, office and basement. In 2012, an enclosed hallway between the chapel and fellowship hall completed the church campus and made winter access between the buildings much more convenient.
Year-round services began in 1995 and now include two services in the summer plus Sunday School, and an adult forum and weekly Bible study. The church also sponsors several community events every year including an adventure camp for children in the summer months.
Rodenbeck says that having ministers of different denominations is a positive, allowing for the expression of different interpretations of Christianity. “We’re all Christians,” he says, pointing out that they all believe in the same basics.” Rodenbeck takes his turn at the pulpit four times a year.
The off-season congregation varies from 25 to 45 people and in the summer an average of 85 people attend. The current Sunday School roster numbers two — sisters, ages 11 and 12, who live with their great grandparents in the area and are a most welcome addition, Rodenbeck said.
The chapel draws people from Glacier View, Red Feather, Crystal Lakes and Poudre Canyon. During the summer months there are Roman Catholic services in Red Feather. A couple of Catholic families attend the chapel in the off-season. Morning Star, also a non-denominational church, is located on the Red Feather Lakes Road, less than a mile from the Chapel in the Pines. “Their services are a little bit more Baptist than ours,” Rodenbeck explains.