Santa Fe -- an inclusive Palm Sunday
|An inclusive faith is acted out in
A Palm Sunday report from David McGown, former
president of the Witherspoon Society
David McGown has sent an updated version of his report
on the remarkable worship gathering at
St. Bede's Episcopal Church in
Santa Fe. Check it out!
We had a great service at First Pres (Santa Fe) this morning with a Palm
Sunday walk out from the church, led by a donkey, and followed by a huge
crowd carrying palm branches. A couple of people carried a big rainbow
flag. The procession as usual went out around the Santa Fe Plaza,
offering palms to all who would take them.
But the important reason for this note was a great
ecumenical outpouring at St. Bede's Episcopal Church, at 3:00 on Palm
Sunday afternoon. St. Bede's for some
time has flown a rainbow flag along with some others on its flag pole.
It has been vandalized five times in the last two or three weeks.
[Another observer adds: There is some confusion now as
to whether the vandalism has to do with their inclusiveness and their
flying of a rainbow flag or not. But no one can come up with another
reason either. But there have been five acts of vandalism in recent
weeks with lots of broken glass, and the last time some satanic
The great service was an outpouring of support from the community, for
St. Bede's and for its stance of welcome.
The leaders of the service could not arrange things as they had planned
due to the overwhelming crowd. The pews had quickly filled. Chairs were
brought in from the rest of the building. Then when they were filled,
all of the floor space including the chancel and all around the
communion table, then the hallway, then all around the outside of the
church. All doors and windows were open.
Police were on hand to deal with the traffic.
Without the support of the Bishop or diocese, St. Bede's goes its own
way. It is very ecumenical, and maintains strong ties with Santa Maria
de la Paz Catholic community as well as the UCC church in Santa Fe. (The
old established Episcopal parish is Holy Faith Church in downtown Santa
Fe. It follows the closed door policy of the bishop, whose diocese
covers Colorado and New Mexico.)
The program included not only Episcopalians, but UCC, Disciples,
Presbyterians, Lutherans, the current and recent past rabbis of the
Reformed Temple; also the Unitarian-Universalists and the Christian
It was a thrilling demonstration of community support. I was pleasantly
surprised to see representation from the independent Korean congregation
that uses Westminster Church on Sunday afternoons.
We cheered, sang old songs from "South
Pacific," led by our UCC pastor.
Mary Ann Lundy spoke on behalf of the New Mexico Conference of Churches
(which includes Roman Catholics). Gloria Nieto, coordinator of a
community-wide lesbian group, could not keep back her tears of joy as
she led her part. PFLAG participated in leadership.
I could say more. It was just a great day!
A Truly Catholic Celebration
The service at St. Bede's Episcopal Church was truly the most catholic
of my experience, a service expressing the universality of the
people of God. Sponsored by Standing Together as Communities for
Human Dignity and Respect, a task group of the New Mexico
Conference of Churches, it was wonderfully inclusive of all racial,
religious, and humane groups; persons of all sexual orientations. No one
was excluded! All were welcomed.
Choir units from churches of a variety of denominations sang. Presenters
included ministers, priests and rabbis, leaders of the Rape Crisis
Center, the New Mexico Conference of Churches, the NAACP, leaders and
supporters GLBT groups and others.
The sanctuary was bursting at its seams, with people
filling the pews and the chairs that were brought in from other parts of
the building. They sat on almost every inch of floor space including the
chancel and around the communion table. With doors and windows open,
they crowded in hallways and outside around all of the windows. Had
there been rafters, they would have been hanging from them. Orders of
service ran out and had to be shared. (I shared one with two Christian
The space was filled by the Spirit of God. The people sang, clapped and
wept for joy. The only groups missing were those claiming that theirs
was the only way.
The service was occasioned by repeated vandalism at St. Bede's,
apparently in retaliation for their flying the rainbow flag of
inclusiveness. It was coordinated by Holly Beaumont, a Disciples of
Christ minister. I cannot imagine a more joyous or more catholic
Thanks be to God!
David J. McGown 4/8/01
Some blogs worth visiting
Mitch Trigger, PVJ's
Secretary/Communicator, has created a Facebook page where
Witherspoon members and others can gather to exchange news and
views. Mitch and a few others have posted bits of news, both
personal and organizational. But there’s room for more!
You can post your own news and views,
or initiate a conversation about a topic of interest to you.
for Life" website
Long-time and stimulating blogger John Shuck,
a Presbyterian minister currently
serving as pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Elizabethton,
Tenn., writes about spirituality, culture, religion (both organized
and disorganized), life, evolution, literature, Jesus, and
Click here for his blog posts.
Click here for podcasts of his radio program, which "explores
the intersection of religion, social justice and public life."
John Harris’ Summit to
Theological and philosophical
reflections on everything between summit to shore, including
kayaking, climbing, religion, spirituality, philosophy, theology,
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), New York City and the Queens
neighborhood of Ridgewood -- by a progressive New York City
Presbyterian Pastor. John is a former member of the Witherspoon
board, and is designated pastor of North Presbyterian Church in
Voices of Sophia blog
Heather Reichgott, who has created
this new blog for Voices of Sophia, introduces it:
After fifteen years of scholarship
and activism, Voices of Sophia presents a blog. Here, we present the
voices of feminist theologians of all stripes: scholars, clergy,
students, exiles, missionaries, workers, thinkers, artists, lovers
and devotees, from many parts of the world, all children of the God
in whose image women are made. .... This blog seeks to glorify God
through prayer, work, art, and intellectual reflection. Through
articles and ensuing discussion we hope to become an active and
Got more blogs to recommend?
send a note, and we'll see what we can do!