From its humble beginning as a Bible study to present day, the Rocky Mountain Bible Church has sought to minister to believers and reflect the Lord's grace and mercy to the unbelieving world.
Strategically located along the I-70 corridor, the town of Frisco in the 1930's was experiencing decline after a period of prosperity brought about by the mining industry. Enter missionary Ord Morrow, who arrived in July 1938. After purchasing several lots on Main Street, Ord and his brother built a two-room cabin on the property from materials gleaned from the last remaining cabin in Masontown. He held Bible studies in Climax, Dillon, Montezuma and Frisco. After two years, the Morrows left the Bible studies in the care of Earl VonEhrenkrook, a Bible school student from Prairie Bible Institute. Earl's ministry may have been brief, but he was instrumental in the calling of RMBC's first full-time pastor, Harold Thompson. Harold and his wife Ethel drove over Loveland Pass in a Model A Ford, arriving in Frisco (population 30) during a snowstorm on October 9, 1940. After spending a cold night, they made the primitive two-room Morrow cabin their home. In their first year of ministry they averaged 8-10 meetings a week in the Frisco town hall building and schoolhouse, including prayer meetings, Bible studies, missionary meetings and church services.
In the fall of 1941, the combined Bible study groups decided to purchase the Morrow property. This included the five Main Street lots, the two-room cabin and a log garage. On November 19, 1941, the small group of believers incorporated the Rocky Mountain Mission of Colorado. As the work grew, they saw the need for more buildings. In 1943, Harold and Ethel bought three adjoining lots for the Mission property. The Log Chapel (now located in the Frisco Historic Park) was built using trees cut by permission of the Forest Service and the salvaging of three one-room buildings near Green Mountain purchased for $35. Due to governmental restraints during WWII, very little of the building materials could be purchased new. A gift of $100 was used to acquire roofing and windows.
Although the Log Chapel was fine for the summer months, a real church building was needed for year-round worship services. As winter set in, Pastor Harold got a permit from the Forest Service to cut trees and began the hard work of cutting, limbing and hauling enough trees to a sawmill for preparation of the logs into building material. The construction of the "Rocky Mountain Mission - Your Church Away From Home" on Main Street was begun in 1947 and completed in 1954. The Thompsons left for ministry in Pueblo, in October 1956.
Once again, the Lord provided another pastor who arrived via Loveland Pass on a snowy day in 1957. To step into ministry after a pastor who had served 15 years was not easy, but Leslie Goodman settled in, with most of the congregation coming from Climax. During this time, the Dillon dam was constructed with many changes to the topography: homes were torn down and others took their place. The Church began to support missionaries on a regular basis. Regular visitation provided a witness to the community, but the constant departure of families proved to be a significant distraction to the ministry.
In the years that followed, the Church maintained its witness in spite of the changes to the community brought by work on the Dillon dam and the physical move of the town of Dillon five miles north to its present location. The Summit County schools merged and a new school was built northeast of Frisco. During this consolidation, the Log Chapel served as the first grade classroom for the 1961-62 school year. The Thompsons donated the ten Main Street lots to the Church and work began on the new parsonage. The Church joined the Independent Fundamental Churches of America.
By this time, it was an RMBC tradition for new pastors to arrive during the winter. And the familiar pattern of attendance increases and declines remained discouraging to those who came and ministered for a couple of years before moving on. Despite these fluctuations, the Church congregation decided on another building project. Ground breaking for construction of the Church building at 600 Main Street began in 1979. When Robert Brandow arrived in 1983, the building project had stalled due to a lack of finances and the congregation had dwindled to just a faithful few. (At one point in the Church's history, there were more missionaries being supported than were members of the Church). In 1984, services began to be held in the basement of the partially-completed 600 Main Street building (the old building, built by Pastor Thompson, having been burned down by the Frisco Fire Department). The new Church building was dedicated in 1985, with six of its former pastors in attendance.
A new chapter in Church history began with the advent of the Miles family. Bruce and Donna Miles and their three sons arrived in Frisco as the Church transitioned from meeting in the basement to the roomy upstairs sanctuary. The small congregation in the large building often found itself outnumbered by the many visitors who came to Summit County for recreation and vacation. Gradually membership increased and the Church's governing body of Deacons transitioned into an Elder Board and a Deacon Board.
As the Church became self-supporting, a new missionary strategy was formed. Many of the Church's missionaries were older folks, whom the Church had supported for many years, but at very low levels (averaging about $25 per month). The new strategy was to support fewer missionaries at a greater percentage of support. This would allow the missionary to get to the field quicker and allow the Church to have a closer relationship to the missionaries it sent out. The Missions Committee considered quarterly special projects, looking for opportunities to give in a big way to special needs, such as Bibles to Russia, a transmitter for Trans World Radio, a motor and hull for missionaries in Brazil, and other similar one-time projects. The Church also developed a burden for international church planting.
In the spring of 1990, one of RMBC's Elders, Dwight George, invited Pastor Bruce to travel with him to Leningrad, Russia, just as "glastnost" had opened the door to evangelism in the formerly closed communist country. The two men handed out tracts and Bibles to people on the streets of the city. Many came to Christ that summer and a pen-pal ministry was begun between members of the Church and contacts made in Leningrad. A group of twelve from RMBC began preparing for a trip the following summer, studying the culture, history, religion, geography and language, taught by Steve Gurko, who had never studied the language before. The political "openness" made way for the spiritual awakening of the Russian people. Later that year the former Soviet Union fell and Leningrad shed its soviet-era name to return to its original St. Petersburg. The summer of 1992 was spent in discipleship of the new believers who had accepted Christ during the two earlier evangelistic campaigns. God laid it on the heart of Bob Hollopeter to leave his job as Dillon's Chief of Police, sell his home in Frisco, and move with his wife Sherry and two children to St. Petersburg to continue the discipleship of the new believers. The Hollopeters became RMBC's first "home grown" missionaries, fully supported by the Church. In time, the Russian discipleship meetings grew into an evangelical church, in the heart of a former atheistic society. Today the St. Petersburg Bible Church is pastored by a Russian pastor, another former attender of RMBC, Alex Danilenka.
In 1994, the Missions Committee planned a missions conference, inviting Beverly Lucas, an administrator of Dallas Theological Seminary (and a former member of RMBC) and four students from DTS to present their vision for missions in their own countries. Represented were Australia, Haiti, Lebanon and the Philippines. The Church hoped to take on one of these students as a fully-supported church planter after their graduation. Graham and Rachel Kell from Australia were selected to plant a church in Queensland. The Kells visited RMBC several times during the summers before Graham's graduation to get to know the congregation. Today Graham still pastors the Chancellor Park Community Church, which is fully self-supporting and well-established.
Another contact, this time in Spain, was made after a missions conference made up of missionaries from Tentmakers Bible Mission. Pastor Manuel Martinez was working in a tentmaking job in Pamplona and desired to devote more time to church planting. RMBC took on a large percentage of his support allowing him to devote full time to his church in Pamplona.
In May of 2002, RMBC launched its decade-old Spanish-language ministry as an independent church called Spanish Bible Fellowship. This church continues to provide a full range of basic congregational activities to Summit County's Spanish speakers, who are about one-third of the County's total resident population.
In 2006, Pastor Bruce traveled to Uganda with the Grace Bible Church team in Colorado Springs for evangelism and church planting ministry. The great opportunities and response of the Ugandan people stirred a great deal of excitement and a team from RMBC was sent the following year, ministering in house-to-house evangelism, church planting, schools and prison ministry. By 2010 five churches had been planted.
The Church's vision for foreign missions had grown from a handful of missionaries in the 1950's to now supporting missionaries raised up from its own congregation and planting churches in such countries as Russia, Australia, Spain and Uganda. In 2000, the Church's desire to minister to its missionaries in the area of hospitality was realized with the purchase of a two-bedroom condominium across the street from the Church property. This unit is used to provide lodging to RMBC missionaries on furlough, guest speakers and other visiting full-time Christian workers, free of charge.
In the summer of 2006, the Church launched an ambitious building program with the construction of the Ministry Center. It had been almost 30 years since the Church had embarked on a building project. With Pastor Dwight George as the project manager, the former parsonage (which had been used for Sunday School classes and once housed the Summit County Christian School) was cleared and construction on the new administrative offices and multi-purpose use facility was begun. The Ministry Center was completed in 2007. The building has been a blessing and useful tool in the ongoing ministry of RMBC to the Church family and Summit County community.