John Lewis Dyer a Methodist pastor was called "Father Dyer" in reverence for his years riding a circuit through treacherous, snowy mountains. Dyer braved blizzards and wild animals to bring the Gospel to remote mining camps during the Colorado gold rush that started in 1858. Dyer's church carries on his work in the ski town of Breckenridge, Colorado.
Watch the related feature called Methodist History: Circuit Rider on Skis
The Rev. Calob Rundell: "Everyone in Breckenridge, whether you've lived here 20 years, whether you've been here 20 days, everybody knows not just about Father Dyer the person, but Father Dyer the church. Because this is where you can come to get a free meal, this is where you can come to get food. This is where you can come to be welcomed, accepted and loved."
The stained glass portrait of a legendary Methodist pastor hangs in the rotunda of the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.
Jack O'Neil, Father Dyer United Methodist Church: "He came for a visit and stayed for a lifetime. He wanted to see Pike's Peak before he went blind. He thought he was going blind."
Members of Father Dyer United Methodist Church are eager to tell the story of the circuit riding Methodist preacher who built this church in the snowy mountains of Breckenridge, Colorado.
The Rev. Calob Rundell, Father Dyer United Methodist Church: "He's on his snow shoes. He's on his cross country skis. He's going over 13,000 foot mountain passes in the middle of winter. He's carrying the Gospel with him. He's delivering the mail. He's preaching in bars."
In the 1860's, the snowshoe itinerant, John Lewis Dyer, began his ministry to the mining camps, traversing deadly, snow covered passes.
Charlie Brittz, Father Dyer United Methodist Church: "It was a wild, Gold Rush kind of town, you know, saloons and houses of ill repute, and he arrived here and had to somehow form a community."
Jack O'Neil: "There weren't churches up here until he built this one here. So, he was going to the people in the mining camps. That's where his preaching was done. So he preached in saloons. He tells the story about preaching in the grocery tent at one mining camp. He would just walk in and say, 'I'm here.' He would start off reciting a hymn. He gathered people around him and he would preach."
Dyer is remembered for his extraordinary acts of kindness like guiding people across Mosquito Pass in winter, giving away his gloves.
Jack O'Neil: "Jesus washed feet, and Father Dyer thawed them out."
In 1977, Dyer was among the first class of inductees to the Colorado Ski & Snowboarding Museum Hall of Fame.
Visitors are welcome at Father Dyer United Methodist Church in Breckenridge, 310 Wellington Road Box 383, Breckenridge, CO 80424, phone: 970-453-2250.