Bring Back the Chapel

In 1976, the Big Thompson Canyon was devastated by a flood that took the lives of 144 people.  The Chapel stood as a place of hope and encouragement in the heart of the tragedy.  In 2013, the Big Thompson flooded again, bringing even more water and destruction.  The Chapel was damaged but restored to serve the community and the Lord.  Then, in 2016, fire destroyed the Chapel building.  Stymied by years of road reconstruction, the small congregation is finally ready to bring the Chapel back to Drake, Colorado.


In the mountain neighborhood of Drake, Colorado, the Chapel stood as a testimony to the love of God and the resilience of community.  Some of the thousand or so folks that call Drake their home live on Storm Mountain.  Some live in the Big Thompson Canyon.  Over the sixty years it stood, the Chapel served Drake residents and others as a gathering place to worship, to remember friends who had passed, and to celebrate weddings and other happy events.

Harold and Agnes Mincer had a vision for shining the light of God's love in their community.  At their own expense, they built an A-frame where people could stop to pray or give thanks on their way between Loveland and Estes Park.  They called it, "the Chapel of the Interlude".  With beautiful wood ceilings and stained-glass windows, the Chapel provided a comfortable place to commune with God in the beauty of His creation.

Eventually, a group began gathering on Sundays and became a non-denominational church.  Regular services began in the late 1960s.  In 1976, the Big Thompson River flood took the lives of over a hundred people and the homes and businesses of many more.  The tragedy drew the people together, and the little Chapel stood strong to help.  The building grew as the congregation grew.  Then, again in 2013, the Big Thompson flooded with even more force than before.  The community was better prepared, but lives, homes, and businesses were again destroyed.

The Chapel building sustained significant damage from the 2013 flood but was restored through an estimated 2500 hours of volunteer labor and nearly $100,000 of contributions.  With no flood insurance, the sacrifices of the small congregation and extended Chapel family brought the ministry back to Drake.  For eighteen months, the Chapel stood again as a light and testimony to the community.

In March of 2016, the flood-spoiled house next to the Chapel was set on fire.  It had been neither restored not demolished after the flood.  The fire quickly moved from the house to the Chapel.  Although several fire departments responded and tried to save the building, it was declared unsafe and demolished during the summer.  From that time on, the congregation has worshiped at the community association building.

While there was no flood insurance to restore the Chapel, there was fire insurance.  The congregation intended to begin work on a new building on the same property as quickly as possible. However, that fall, long-term and extensive reconstruction of Highway 34 began, causing major closures for many months.  Bringing in materials, workers, heavy equipment, and more for rebuilding was out of the question.  The only people allowed through the canyon for the next two years were those who lived there and held official permits.  Like many mountain communities, Drake is accessible by only one road.

Building plans waited until the road was complete.  Since both the road and the riverbed were to be moved, we could not be certain that our original lot would remain,  Today, we are working with county and state offices to satisfy new zoning and building restrictions.  Because we have had to wait so long to rebuild, several "grandfather clauses" have expired.  We are negotiating a complicated system of restrictions and requirements with the help of a competent local engineering firm.

Spring of 2020 has become our target date to begin rebuilding.  Our insurance settlement has been carefully protected but will provide a little more than a third of the expected costs, partly because of new zoning requirements to complete the project, we need to raise nearly $400,000.

Mountain communities provide many challenges for those who live in them.  With limited access, building sites are hard to find and often difficult to use.  Drake is a small community with little room for growth. Our goal is a building that would seat about eighty and provide a meeting facility for church and community functions.  After considerable searching for alternate property (we didn't waste the two years waiting for the road to open), we have decided to try to move back on our original lot.  That lot is tiny by the standards of any church project, only about 80 x 120, and much of that is unavailable because of flood plain restrictions and road easements.  The current building plan is about 40 x 80 with a single story on the hill side (which is bordered by a small road) and two-story on the side of the river and main access road.  This should allow us to provide easy handicapped access to the worship area, with storage and utilities below.  Adequate parking is available.  We believe this simple building will serve the needs of the community for years to come.

The closest church of any kind, other than the Chapel, is a half-hour drive for our folks on the mountain. We believe it is important for this community, which has suffered so much, to have a standing testimony to the love and faithfulness of God.  Because we were able to meet at the community building during the road reconstruction, the Chapel family was able to serve the community through a challenging time.  As our time at the community building draws to an end, our own building will again be that light and encouragement to the people of Drake.

You may be interested in visiting our Chapel website, where you would find photos of the original building, the flood, and the fire damage.  You will also get a sense of the strength of the Chapel family as they have stayed together to offer comfort to each other and encouragement to the community.  Find it at www.drakechapel.org

The Chapel congregation is non-denominational, dedicated to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and welcomes all who wish to learn of Him.

Please consider helping us bring the Chapel back to Drake!  Your gift of any size will add to the contributions of all of us who have loved the Drake community and wish to serve it into the future.  Together, we can restore what tragedy has taken.

Donations

  • Gail Ellis 
    • $100 
    • 37 mos
  • Alicia Martinez 
    • $40 
    • 37 mos
  • Anonymous 
    • $50 
    • 37 mos
  • Sonya Garcia 
    • $50 
    • 37 mos

Organizer

Dave Orrison 
Organizer
Canfield, CO
The Chapel of the Interlude 
Registered nonprofit
Donations are typically 100% tax deductible in the US.

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