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Santa Fe -- an inclusive Palm Sunday

An inclusive faith is acted out in Santa Fe

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 symbols.]

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 Scientists.

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 Service!


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 Science leaders.)

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 service.

Thanks be to God!

David J. McGown      4/8/01


Some blogs worth visiting

PVJ's Facebook page

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.


John Shuck’s new "Religion 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 lightening up.

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 Shore blogspot

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 Flushing, NY.


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 thoughtful community.


Got more blogs to recommend?

Please send a note, and we'll see what we can do!


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