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.
Fr. Blaine Hammond was born in Nebraska, but except for a few years in Manhattan, grew up here and there around Washington State. He graduated from Roosevelt High School in Seattle, and eventually earned a BA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Washington. In the meantime, he married Elizabeth Forbes – to whom he is still married – and began a family of three children, now grown.
Following graduation, he attended the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, Colorado, intending to be a United Methodist minister, but in the course of that education he decided God was calling him to the Episcopal Church. He earned his M.Div. at Iliff, and several years later earned a Certificate in Anglican Studies at CDSP (Church Divinity School of the Pacific) in Berkeley, CA.
Fr. Hammond was ordained to the diaconate in the Diocese of Colorado in June of 1988, and to the priesthood in January of 1989, by the Rt. Rev. William Frey.
Fr. Blaine worked at St. Irenaeus Church (which has since disbanded) in Lyons, Colorado, and at Christ’s Church in Castle Rock, Colorado, before he and Elizabeth moved to the Bay Area in 1991 so Elizabeth could pursue doctoral work in clinical psychology. They moved back to the Pacific Northwest in 1994 while Elizabeth did her internship.
Fr. Hammond became the vicar of St. Peter’s Church in Seaview, Washington in 1996, and served there until 2008. In 2009, he became the rector of St. Andrew’s in Ben Lomond, California, where he continues to serve.
Fr. Blaine was a member of the World Peace and Global Affairs committee of the Colorado Council of Churches; he was a founding member of the Colorado Coalition on Religion and the Environment; he was a member of the Ecumenical Commission of the Diocese of Colorado; he was the founder and chair of the Peace and Justice Committee of the Diocese of Colorado; he was a Convenor of the Willapa Hills region of the Diocese of Olympia; he was a mentor for the Total Ministry program in the Diocese of Olympia; he is currently on the Canterbury Board in the Diocese of El Camino Real and is a Member of the Higher Education Board and a Member of the Board of the United Campus Christian Ministry.
While at St. Peter’s in Seaview, he served on a steering committee in a successful attempt to bring a Boys and Girls Club to the Long Beach Peninsula there; he was also twice president of the Ecumenical Ministry on the Peninsula and president of Simon’s Net, a Youth Ministry, as well as serving with a group which worked on preventing youth suicides.
Fr. Hammond continues to be interested in literature and music, in social justice and environmental issues. He served here at St. Andrew’s and in 2018 retired back to Washington to be with his family.
Fr. Rob Neville, born in the Midwest grew up in upstate New York. The grandson and great grandson of Congregational Ministers, Rob was raised in the Roman Catholic tradition. 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 and Engineer in Silicon Valley. After leaving the Church in his late teens, he explored many avenues of spiritual development and he finally returned to the Episcopal Church in his early fifties, some 13 years ago. Rob was raised up to the priesthood from St. Andrew’s Saratoga, CA. He attended CDSP in Berkeley, CA starting in 2009 and was ordained and spent his first year as a priest at St. John’s in Aptos in 2013. For the past four years, Rob has been serving as Rector at Christ Church Tashua in Trumbull, CT and simultaneously Priest in Charge at Grace Church also in Trumbull. He joined St. Andrew’s Ben Lomond in September of 2018 and served to 2020.