On Monday I traveled from Seattle to Phoenix, where I met up with four other Province VIII Bishop colleagues, actually my bishop support group, Mary Gray-Reeves of El Camino Real, Barry Beisner of Northern California, Jim Mathes of San Diego, (President of Province VIII) and Bob Fitzpatrick of Hawaii. This group, as I have shared so many times, is so very important to me. We traveled together from Phoenix to Window Rock, Arizona, and the Navajo Nation. It was about a 7 hour trip by van. We spent our first night in Window Rock. The Navajo Nation is over 27,000 square miles and the largest geographical First Nations Tribal land in the US. Navajoland, is a missionary diocese of the Episcopal Church and encompasses this same four corners region. Navajoland is part of Province VIII and we are here to learn, to listen, and to truly engage and attempt to partner in deeper ways with this beautiful land and people.
This morning, the Feast of the Epiphany, we rose early and traveled to the Church of the Good Shepherd, Fort Defiance. It is a beautiful church, built in 1954, but the mission and work here on this site has gone on for many years prior. The church structure has suffered foundation issues and has other structural issues but remains a very important landmark in this community. It is made up of many buildings and was once far more inhabited than now, but is clearly on a rebound and with a new emphasis in mission and vision. We were greeted by the Rev. Chan Osborn de Anaya, a fabulous priest and friend from my Austin days.
Since the large church is so expensive to heat and because of the other structural issues they hold worship in a building appropriately known as the Power House. This literally was where all the steam heat for the entire complex, a school, orphanage, and other buildings came from. It stopped serving in this capacity some time ago and so it was renovated, into, a worship space, still appropriately known as the Power House
Here, our beloved Bishop Nedi Rivera (Eastern Oregon, Olympia, resigned) presided. Her father, Bishop Rivera, was one of the founding bishops in the creation of Navajoland. Bishop Mathes (San Diego) gave an excellent sermon, and we celebrated the Feast of the Epiphany.
We were then shown all around the grounds including an amazing greenhouse where much is grown and much taught too. We also saw the beginning construction of a ceremonial hogan on the property, being built by the people of the church in a traditional way.
We were then shown the Vicarage and several of the retreat houses. The Rev. Kathleena Plummer was our guide on this portion,
and then we were fed a most excellent meal, before we headed off to see St. Mark’s, Coalmine.
Just before we left, I was informed of the very sad news of the death of Heather Kmitta. Heather served as the receptionist at DHouse from 2007 to 2011. She always greeted people with a smile, and she had a joy about life. She left to pursue her dream of working with animals as a vet assistant. She was 41 years old. She was a very active member of St. Paul’s, Seattle. She apparently died in her sleep. I spoke to her loving parents and assured them of our prayers.
I also got reports from the Rev. Evan Clendenin and the Rev. Sarah Monroe on the flooding in Aberdeen and Hoquiam. Some parishioners were flooded and they are currently assessing needs as they can get in to do so. I assure them both of our prayers and of our help in the days to come.
At St. Mark’s, Coalmine, we learned of their vision and their growth, and heard about an exciting Vacation Bible School where 50 children attended and which will soon move to a month long instead of a week. We heard from members about how this church has served as a community center for most of their lives.
We then traveled about two hours to Farmington, New Mexico, traveling by the most impressive Shiprock, and through the town named the same. This is such beautiful and spiritual country. We held part of our business meeting tonight and will lodge here for the next two nights.
The blessings abounded today. We have a very full day tomorrow. I will report as I can.
Be blessed, and please keep the Kmitta family, and the people of Aberdeen, Hoquiam, and all those affected by the flooding in your prayers.