In 1850 Thomas Bums, a loyal and probably nostalgic Scot, settled on top of Ben Lomond Mountain to grow grapes and make wine. He named his mountain for the historic mountain of Scotland, the land of his birth.
Thirty-seven years later, J.P. Pierce, the enterprising owner of the Pacific manufacturing company, and Thomas L. Bell, his mill superintendent, laid out a town site at the foot of the mountain on the flat north bank of the San Lorenzo River between Hick’s Ford and Priest’s Ford, both now sites of bridges on Highway 9. Pierce wanted to call his town “Pacific Mills,” but when he applied for a post office, the postal department took exception to the commercial association of the name proposed. He and Bell then settled on a second choice, “Ben Lomond.”
In 1899 twelve Episcopalians of Ben Lomond raised money to buy land and to build a church. Benjamin and Gertrude Dickinson, Thomas Bell, and William Lamb are recorded as principal organizers and significant contributors. During fund raising and construction, the Rev. C.O. Tillotson, rector of Calvary Church in Santa Cruz,arranged for services in Ben Lomond Hall. The church was constructed by a Mr. Hopkins, and in July, 1901 Bishop William Nichols consecrated the little redwood church named for the patron saint of Scotland.
When the church building was completed in 1899, lumbering in the San Lorenzo Valley was at its peak. Boulder Creek was a major railhead for California; mills shipped vast quantities of timber through it. The loggers worked 66 hour weeks and spent their Saturday nights in the many saloons strung out along the main street. Down stream in Ben Lomond, life was quieter. Once the surrounding hills had been logged of their giant redwoods, the mills moved on upstream. Attempts to farm the denuded slopes left behind met with indifferent success. Ben Lomond and St. Andrew’s were fortunate, however, because there was a new interest in the San Lorenzo Valley. With the coming of the railroads to Ben Lomond in 1884, campers from San Francisco and elsewhere began loading their gear on trains heading for the Santa Cruz Mountains and Ben Lomond. Within a few years Ben Lomond acquired fine resort hotels built to accommodate those campers who preferred to sojourn with damask on the table instead of canvas overhead. People who could afford mountain cabins put them up on likely lots along the river, the creeks, and the established mountain roads. Those of true affluence commissioned rustic but highly comfortable summer homes complete with tennis courts, swimming “tanks,” and cabins for their help.
St. Andrew’s has always served Episcopalians in two categories: Episcopalians living in the San Lorenzo Valley the year round, and Episcopalians coming to the San Lorenzo Valley on vacation. The little church did well enough in the summers, quite often filling its pews. After this auspicious beginning, the congregation began to dwindle until, in the fall of 1911 there were but three communicants. Thus, in the winters from 1911 to 1950, St. Andrew’s generally locked its doors and hibernated. For the next 15 years St. Andrew’s served principally as a summer chapel, and the optimism of the planners of 1899 gradually gave way to discouragement.
Two men, both rectors of Calvary Church in Santa Cruz, deserve particular mention for their part in keeping St.Andrew’s alive during the hard years from 1911 to 1950: the Rev. Messrs. C. L. Tillotson and Norman Snow. In 1950 St. Andrew’s welcomed its first full time vicar, the Rev. John Davis Lee. His arrival signaled the stable future. Times of scarcity and of plenty continued in sequence, but without the old intensity. St.Andrew’s gathered in new members, many of them new to the Episcopal Church,and moved into its third quarter century with excellent promise.
Under the leadership of Father Joseph R. Kennedy, who came in 1974, St. Andrew’s became a vigorous, self-supporting mission, and then in 1979, in a ceremony at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, a parish. In 1980 St. Andrew’s became a part of the new Diocese of El Camino Real.
The great storm, which devastated the Santa Cruz mountains, in 1982 saw St. Andrew’s become a leader and a community center for emergency aid services in that tragic time. For a week, with help from the outside blocked, St. Andrew’s and the Ben Lomond Volunteer Fire Department rescued, fed, and housed all those in need. St. Andrew’s received national television recognition on several network news broadcasts for its endeavors. The tragedy also welded ties to the community which continue to the present.
In 1988, St. Andrew’s welcomed The Rev. Colville Smythe and his wife, Sylvia. The Smythes’ strengths were in welcoming new members and programs. Examples are the Easter Egg Hunt at their home, a third Sunday morning service, large numbers of confirmands each spring, adult education programs, grief groups, Kirking of the Tartans, Mardi Gras, a service for children at Christmas, and emphasis on music programs. The earthquake of 1989 once again brought St. Andrew’s into the forefront when it contributed over $12,000 into the community and housed people during the disaster, establishing it as a permanent Red Cross disaster center when needed.
The rector Rev. Linda Wood served St Andrew’s from 1997 through 2000. Linda’s strengths were in liturgical music, creating discussion services, and exploring the liturgy of New Zealand Anglicans and Celtic Christianity. She also brought a feminine perspective to the parish and instituted monthly children’s services and an active acolyte training program. During this period St. Andrew’s was challenged with roof damage from a tree that evolved into many expensive repairs. Many fund raisers were held and the church continued to be an important element in San Lorenzo Valley.
The vestry elected a new rector, Rev. Keith Johnson who accepted the position on April 1st 2003. We really enjoyed his exuberance and enthusiasm as he added to the life and history of our church. He loved music and encouraged exploration beyond the blue hymnal. Between Rev. Johnson and choir director Nicki Kerns, other musical selections and instruments made its way into our pews.
Fr. Blaine Hammond and his wife Elizabeth Forbes joined us in 2009 and served at St. Andrew’s until retiring to Washington in 2018. He continues to be interested in literature and music, in social justice and environmental issues. He helped revive the youth ministry and youth participation in parish events.
Fr. Rob Neville, born in the Midwest grew up in upstate New York. Acting as an Altar Boy during the week and singing in the choir on Sundays, he developed a deep love and respect of liturgy. Rob has had many careers during his life ranging from Artist to Rescue Worker. He joined St. Andrew’s Ben Lomond in September of 2018 and served to 2020.
Our current Interim Pastor: Martin Yabroff grew up in Los Gatos, CA and met his wife Eve at UCSC. After graduation, he followed her to Boston where he received his M.Div. from Boston University School of Theology (where Martin Luther King Jr. did his doctoral work).
Afterwards, they moved back to California where he served as Assistant to the Rector at St. Mary’s by-the-Sea, Pacific Grove, CA. He was ordained a Deacon in 1984 and a Priest in 1985 at St. Mary’s. In 1987, Martin and his family were called to Scotts Valley, where he was founding Vicar of St. Philip the Apostle. Over his 17 years there, it grew from six to 100 households, acquired and renovated property, and became an active Worship, Education and Community Center.
In 2004, he was called to serve as Dean of St. James’ Cathedral in South Bend, IN. this call was for a season of transition. In 2007 they returned to the West Coast and served for 14 years at St. Andrew’s, Tacoma, WA. He retired in 2021 from full-time parish ministry but is eager to continue serving as priest and pastor on a part-time basis.
In September 2022, he began as Interim Pastor at St. Andrew’s, Ben Lomond in what may be a long-term (2-3 years) period of growth and development.
Eve and Martin have been married for 42 years. They have six children and nine grandchildren. They live in Felton. His interests include ecumenical and interfaith dialogue, hiking, reading and chasing grandchildren.