Holy Faith of Santa Fe 1863-2000
by Stanford Lehmberg
ISBN 1-890689-12-2 $25.95
224 pages, 22 color, 45 b/w photos


If readers of Anglican and Episocpal History think that there are enough local studies of parishes and therefore conclude they can skip this new addition to the genre, they need to revise their thinking. Good parish studies connect what happens at the congregational level (the people in the pews) with national and international movements and events. Lehmberg's background as a distinguished scholar in the field of English church history gives him an unusual frame of reference for examining the history of a parish church in the American Southwest. It is a lens that has resulted in his writing a comprehensive and well-researched parish study that goes beyond the local and speaks to the contemporary unresolved crisis in national and international Anglicanism. It is an example of how the analysis of local church history can illuminate our understanding of the major trends and challenges that face Episcopalians in the United States today. -- Anglican and Episcopal History, June 2006

Lehmberg's book contributes much toward understanding the nineteenth-century history of Santa Fe, New Mexico, following the Anglo-American takeover in 1846. The book is highly recommended for those interested in general Church history, but also in this church in particular, which is set in the context of Santa Fe's complex history. --
Colonial Latin American Historical Review, Winter 2004

Stanford Lehmberg, a former professor of history at the University of Minnesota, has an impressive resume of publishing and participation in historical organizations. His expertise in making use of a very complete set of church archives at Holy Faith and interviews with long-time parishioners has resulted in a balanced and detailed history of the rectors, buildings, women’s groups, educational and music programs, outreach ministries, church finances, and the inevitable controversies.

Lehmberg also has his own long personal association with Episcopalians. Before joining Holy Faith in 1998, he was organist and choirmaster for 28 years at St. Clement’s Church in St. Paul, Minnesota.

The people are the Church. And those who appear in Lehmberg’s pages are high achievers, beginning with the New Mexico political leaders who were Holy Faith’s founders and are characterized as “lay popes.” John Gaw Meem, the well-known Santa Fe architect who designed some of the buildings, was also a member of the parish.

The congregation is described generally as mainly traditional and financially generous in its outreach ministries. With human nature what it is, the records reveal specific local disagreements as well as those that reflect the controversies of the Episcopal Church in the United States, namely over Prayer Book revision and the ordination of women and homosexuals.

Some refer to Santa Fe as “the city different.” It is different in most wonderful ways — the historical neighborhoods and architecture and the Spanish traditions. Besides being the capitol of New Mexico, it might be considered to be the cultural capitol as well because of the dominance of the arts and music. All these aspects of Santa Fe are evident at Holy Faith, which makes the history so interesting to read. -- The Historiographer, Vol XLIII, no. 1, Lent 2005
This history about the Church of the Holy Faith, the oldest Episcopal church in New Mexico, will surprise anyone who holds the belief that a church history would be boring, a challenge to complete or of interest only to the subject church's members. Holy Faith of Santa Fe is engrossing, illuminating and written in a lively narrative style. It is also a revealing study in human relations and of organizational dynamics, in particular during times of social change and of new policies made by the national church.

Both good and troubled times in Holy Faiths history are treated in a straightforward manner. There are also humorous moments; it begins, for example, with an account of the first official visit in July 1863 of a Protestant Episcopal minister to New Mexico. The Right Reverend Josiah C. Talbot traveled by stage coach from Colorado to Santa Fe to perform the earliest Episcopal services held in New Mexico Territory. He wrote in his diary that it was a dreadful trip, with drunken passengers singing obscene songs. He also described Santa Fe as exceedingly unprepossessing—a most tactful observation in comparison to those of other travelers in those days.

From its beginnings, the Church of the Holy Faith has had an impressive number of parishioners prominent in Santa Fe and New Mexico, including US Senators Thomas B. Catron and Bronson M. Cutting, Governor and author L. Bradford Prince, architect John Gaw Meem and state historian-archivist Dr. Myra Ellen Jenkins. Also of early historical note, the first marriage recorded in the church's parish register was of José Manuel Gallegos and Candelaria Montoya in 1868. Earlier, Gallegos, a Roman Catholic priest, was involved in controversies with Roman Catholic Bishop Jean Baptiste Lamy. Suspended by Lamy, Gallegos went on to the US Congress as a delegate from the New Mexico Territory.

Author Stanford Lehmberg is a historian of the Reformation in England, scholar of Anglicanism and Holy Faith's director of music. In preparing to write this history, he examined a monumental number of records from the church's parish archives and drew from many other sources, including collections at New Mexico State Records and Archives and the 1977 history of Holy Faith written by Beatrice Chauvenet. He superbly accomplished bringing together personages (clergy and parishioners), details, quotes, anecdotes and statistics to create a valuable work.

Designed in an eye-appealing format by Barbe Awalt and Paul Rhetts of LPD Press, the book also contains an epilogue, over 60 black-and-white and color illustrations, appendices listing church staffs and financial statistics and an index. Footnotes accompanying the text also add to the wealth of information found in this excellent church history. -- Phyllis Morgan,
Southwest BookViews, Summer 2004

Another new book on church history is Holy Faith of Santa Fe and it, too, is one of the better publications to come out of the LPD Press. Its author, Stanford Lehmberg, is a university historian who seeks to bring historical breath to the Episcopalian Church of New Mexico. The Episcopalians made their appearance in the state sometime after the Civil War and, despite miniscule enrollment, attracted men like Thomas Catron, from the infamous Santa Fe Ring, and military governor Bradford Prince. -- G. Benito Cordova, La Herencia, Summer 2004

Twenty-some years ago, Robert Torrez and I commiserated with each other about the troubles each of us was having while writing a centennial book for a parish, he for San José at Los Ojos, I for Immaculate Conception in Albuquerque. “Where had the documents gone? Why are there so few pictures? Who do so few past events make sense today?” Pastors rarely think history, for they assume they’ll move on sometime soon. Stanford Lehmberg has repeated a few of our complaints, but with his background he has produced a very substantial book, made it look easy, and made it enjoyable.

Lehmberg, former professor at Texas-Austin and professor and department chair at Minnesota, vacationed often in Santa Fe until he and his wife moved there for good. Dr. Lehmberg has benefited by twenty-seven years of experience at St. Clement’s Church, Saint Paul, MN, from the viewpoint of organist and choir-director. In this book he has brought his deep knowledge of the reformation-era English Church to bear on the problems of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Epsicopalianism.

The first three chapters, from the Civil War to World War I, the leading figures were local laity: former Catholic priest José Manuel Gallegos (groom at the first Episcopal wedding in New Mexico), L. Bradford Prince and his wife, William G. Ritch, Senator and Mrs. Thomas Catron, Bronson Cutting, and Mr. And Mrs. Rufus Palen, a Santa Fe mover-and-shaker. Prince, appointed territorial chief justice and later territorial governor, brought his immense energy and his domineering personality to bear on the priests, many of whom left Santa Fe as soon as they could. The second era (1918-65) saw new buildings (think John Gaw Meem) and the beginning of social-gospel outreach to the greater community of the city and the county of Santa Fe. Chapters 8 to 10 cover the troubled times of Vietnam, civil rights, Watergate, and the open society with all their tensions. The years from 1995 to the turn of the millennium present a successful but hard-won return to the good times of understanding and cooperation within the congregation.

Historians ought to tell stories well, and Lehmberg narrates the history of Santa Fe’s Episcopal Church of the Holy Faith (in Spanish, that’s Santa Fe). The history occupies about 200 pages, with 45 black-and-white and 19 color illustrations, four appendices, and a thorough index. Lehmberg had the advantage of Bishop James Stoney’s and Beatrice Chauvenet’s fine books as well as good humor and dry wit in the Anglican tradition, as exemplified on page 75: In September [1939], a new faucet was selected for the Sacristy, for which the Holy Faith Guild paid and which the Rector installed, eliminating a bill from the plumber. Some readers thrive on lists of figures and derive enlightenment from them, and Lehmberg embeds even these statistics in readable prose; and therefore when he returns to historical narrative - his accounts of ideological issues, personalities, and controversies, as well as the history of buildings, architecture, and music (p. 8) - the non-statistical reader can kick back and enjoy a book that is user-friendly throughout. --
New Mexico Historical Review, 2004

Exceptional! -- Today's Books, May 2004

The history of the Episcopal pillar of Santa Fe
Roman Catholicism is so associated with Santa Fe and New Mexico that people can overlook the variety of other forms of faith that have contributed to this City of Holy Faith, especially that close cousin, Anglo-Catholicism.

In Holy Faith of Santa Fe, historian Stanford Lehmberg writes the story of the state’s oldest Episcopal church, a pillar of downtown Santa Fe since 1863. He weaves the nuts-and-bolts details of budget and building with the larger picture of a divided Episcopal church and the growth of the city from which the Church of the Holy Faith took its name. Holy Faith provides a fascinating case study of problems affecting the Episcopal church throughout the United States during those years, Lehmberg writer in his introduction. It was subject to more serious divisions of opinion than most parishes and was heavily influenced by conservatives who deplored such actions as the ordination of women and homosexuals, the blessing of same-sex unions, Prayer Book revision, and the adoption of inclusive language.

By the end of the century, though, Holy Faith had come out of its period of controversy with the Rev. Canon Dale Coleman firmly at the helm and a church growing in both faith and membership — no small feat in a time when mainline Protestant churches across the United States have been losing parishioners. Its early days could be difficult, though, as the book relates.

For one thing, there weren’t that many Episcopalians in Santa Fe and forming a parish and being able to support a full-time priest was difficult. Early Episcopalians were in culture shock, often viewing Santa Fe as a dirty village with the amenities of civilization. A Bishop Talbot wrote about Santa Fe: The streets are very narrow, uneven and dirty? and its people were guilty of ?loose morals,universal concubinage, and open adultery.

As the New Mexico territory opened up and more Anglos moved in, the time to establish a permanent church grew near. The core of the present church, long an anchor on Palace venue, was built, and the first service was held Aug. 6, 1882.

The congregation grew, and with it, its influence, since many influential territorial New Mexicans also were Episcopalians. L. Bradford Prince, a territorial governor, Bronson Cutting, a U.S. senator and newspaper owner, Thomas B. Catron, lawyer and member of the infamous Santa Fe Ring, were just some of the important parishioners whose influence was felt inside and outside the church. Architect John Gaw Meem and his wife, Faith, state historian Myra Ellen Jenkins, and historian and writer Mary Jean Cook are just a few of the luminaries who attended Holy Faith.

The gathering of so many dynamic people in one congregation made for interesting parish meetings, as well as years of turnover among rectors in the more controversial periods. The book relates these relationships clearly, showing the wranglings inside the church with fairness and objectivity. For a parish history, it’s remarkably free of bias, presenting the many conflicts between parishioners and priest (Holy Faith church-goers, evidently, always have been a feisty bunch) with dispassion and detail. At times, the details of the budget, rector’s salary, cost for refurbishing, and so on, can become a little dry, weighing down the more interesting tale of the people who founded and made this church a force in Santa Fe and the Southwest. Adding to the book’s enjoyment, though, are color photos of the beautiful stained-glass windows at the historic church. At its best, the book tells the story of a congregation struggling internally with its relationship to God and to the greater Episcopal Church and its decision to remain a rock of conservatism in a changing world.

It’s a story of interest to parishioners but also offers a slice of Santa Fe history for the rest of the world to enjoy. -- Inez Russell,
Santa Fe New Mexican, February 15, 2004

The following is from an article in the Santa Fe New Mexican:
Church of the Holy Faith publishes colorful history
Catholics had been practicing their faith in New Mexico for 200 years before the first visit of a Protestant Episcopal minister to the territory.

In 1863, the Rt. Rev. Josiah Cruickshank Talbot, a missionary bishop of the Northwest, traveled to Santa Fe by stagecoach from Colorado where he preached the gospel and administered communion.

Talbot reported that the streets of Santa Fe were “very narrow, uneven and dirty” and found the people guilty of “loose morals,” “universal concubinage” and “open adultery.”

He left Santa Fe for Taos in a government ambulance and never returned.

But five years later, the church's general convention created a missionary district for Colorado, Wyoming and New Mexico, and a new parish was organized in Santa Fe to be called Church of the Good Shepherd, then St. Thomas Church and, in 1880, Church of the Holy Faith. It is the oldest Episcopal church in New Mexico.

In February, a 224-page history of the 135-year-old church will be published by LPD Press of Albuquerque.

The author is Stanford Lehmberg, a parishioner at Holy Faith and a former professor of history at the University of Minnesota. Lehmberg, who is director of music at the church, has written eight books, most of which are studies of England and the Anglican Church in the 16th and 17th centuries.

In writing the book, Lehmberg relied heavily on extensive records kept by the church, supplemented by what he learned from biographies of some of the church's early leaders and interviews with older parishioners, including Stephen E. Watkins, president of The Santa Fe New Mexican, and Nancy Meem Wirth, daughter of architect John Gaw Meem.

It is a surprisingly frank account, including, for example, details of the 1979 dismissal of a gay curate who signed himself out of an Albuquerque treatment program, deceived the bishop of the diocese of the Rio Grande and was seen in San Francisco by "one of Holy Faith's gay parishioners."

The book also covers decades of conflict within the parish over some of the big issues of the day, such as the ordination of women and gays and use of the new Prayer Book.

"This is a kind of 'warts and all' approach," said the Rev. Dale Coleman, current rector of Holy Faith.

In the early days, the leaders of Holy Faith were some of the territory's most prominent and politically powerful citizens.

L. Bradford Prince, who helped break the power of Tammany Hall before moving to the Southwest in 1868 to become chief justice of New Mexico's territorial Supreme Court and later governor, was a lay reader and often conducted services at Holy Faith when there was no resident priest.

The family of Thomas B. Catron, a leader of the Santa Fe Ring, a Republican group that dominated territorial land and politics, is listed in the first parish register, and all four of his sons were baptized at Holy Faith.

Bronson Cutting, a descendant of an Anglican priest who came to New Mexico to cure his tuberculosis, was elected a warden of Holy Faith. Cutting bought The New Mexican in 1912 and served in the U.S. Senate from 1927 to 1935.

John Gaw Meem, the architect who popularized Santa Fe style, was a warden at Holy Faith and designed the parish house, sacristy, rector's office, Faith House (library and classroom space), chancel and other improvements. Meem was born in a coastal town in Brazil, where his father was an Episcopal missionary, and he moved to Santa Fe in 1920 to recuperate from tuberculosis.

The church will never again be dominated by such powerful anticlerical lay leaders or ever again enjoy the close relationship to political leadership that had characterized its early years, Lehmberg concludes.

Much of the rest of the book chronicles the controversies that still threaten to tear apart the worldwide Anglican communion.

While parishes across the country were divided over these issues, Lehmberg wrote, "It may be true that Holy Faith was more given to disagreements about churchmanship, liturgical style and theology than most parishes, and that they became increasingly bitter in later years when the national church was struggling with such divisive issues as Prayer Book revision, the ordination of women priests, and more active social policies."

Holy Faith was often at odds with the national church. In 1969, for example, it tried to prevent the executive council of the Episcopal Church from giving $40,000 to Alianza, the land-grand organization headed by Reies Lopez Tijerina, because, according to its resolution, his claims had "no basis in fact or law."

In the late 1970s, Donald L. Campbell said that, as a "matter of conscience," he would not allow women to preach from the pulpit as long as he was rector.

Rector Philip Wainwright described the parish as the Episcopal Church in a nutshell in his first sermon in 1988. "We have Bible-thumping fundamentalist evangelicals; we have speaking-in-tongues charismatics; we have ritualistic Anglo-Catholics; we have gays; we have women who want to see a woman curate here, and we have women who think women should be silent in church and submissive at home."

But conservative views dominated. Lehmberg quotes Coleman as saying that many parishioners are members of the Synod, a national group formed to oppose some of the controversial changes, although a 1991 survey found that others strongly disapproved of any association between the Synod and the parish.

"It is illuminating to see that Holy Faith has had a history of strong personalities and lots of conflict and inner battles that have really kept the church from blossoming," Coleman said last week.

Lehmberg's book also illustrates that the parish was often at odds with its own rector. Before C.J. Kinsolving accepted the call to Holy Faith in 1936, he said he had been warned that the church was known as "the graveyard of the Episcopal clergy." One rector was asked to resign after promoting the messages from the Virgin Mary that the director of the parish youth program claimed to be receiving and one because he was leaving his wife to marry his secretary. Wainwright, who experienced a religious conversion after attending an Evangelical conference in 1991, was the most recent to resign.

Lehmberg covers the founding of St. Bede's and Holy Family Episcopal churches and the departure of Ralph Bethancourt, the assistant rector who renounced his Episcopal orders, was ordained a priest of the Orthodox Church and went on to establish Holy Trinity Antiochan Orthodox Church of Santa Fe. -- Santa Fe New Mexican, December 14, 2003

The history of the Church of the Holy Faith in Santa Fe is of special interest for several reasons. It is the oldest Episcopal church, and one of the oldest of any Protestant denomination, in New Mexico. Its early leaders, men like Governor L. Bradford Prince, Senator Thomas B. Catron, and Senator Bronson M. Cutting, were prominent in government and politics; their careers linked church and state in early twentieth century Santa Fe. Some of its buildings were designed by the greatest architect of the Santa Fe style, John Gaw Meem, who, together with his wife Faith, was a loyal parishioner for many decades. Art work in the church includes a reredos by the well-known artist Gustave Baumann. The church’s pipe organ is the largest in northern New Mexico and the music program has long-standing connections with the Santa Fe Opera. The earlier chapters of the Holy Faith history are thus part of the political and artistic history of Santa Fe and indeed New Mexico and the Southwest.

The life of the parish during the second half of the twentieth century is important for different reasons. Holy Faith provides a fascinating case study of problems affecting the Episcopal church throughout the United States during these years. It was subject to more serious divisions of opinion than most parishes and was heavily influenced by conservatives who deplored such actions as the ordination of women and Prayer Book revision. It disapproved of social action policies of the national church and withdrew its financial support from the national body. But it was exceptionally generous in its outreach and made significant grants to charitable organizations in the Santa Fe community, the United States, and throughout the world. After a period of controversy and loss of members it ended the century at a new high point and seemed poised to continue its growth and service. The present study is based on the parish archives, which are unusually complete, and on interviews with long-time parishioners who have shared their memories of special events and controversies. It attempts to present an account which is full but fair and judicious in presenting different points of view. It includes a number of historical photographs as well as illustrations depicting the church’s present buildings and art works.

Stanford Lehmberg
Prior to his retirement from active teaching Stanford Lehmberg was Professor of History at the University of Minnesota, where he also served as chair of the History Department. Earlier he taught at the University of Texas in Austin. He is the author of eight books, most of which are studies of England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These include The Reformation Parliament, 1529-1536 (1970), The Later Parliament of Henry VIII (1977), The Reformation of Cathedrals (1988), Cathedrals Under Siege (1996), a textbook, The Peoples of the British Isles, from Prehistoric Times to 1688 (2nd. ed., 2001), and a history of The University of Minnesota, 1945-2000 (2001). He has also helped edit several encyclopedias and written dozens of articles and hundreds of reviews. Twice a Guggenheim Fellow, he holds the Ph.D. and Litt.D. from Cambridge University, where he was a Fulbright Scholar. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and the Society of Antiquaries of London and a former member of the board of the American Historical Association and the North American Conference on British Studies. A church musician as well as a historian, he served as organist and choirmaster at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in St, Paul for twenty-eight years, during which time services sung by his choir were broadcast on American Public Radio and the B.B.C. After some years of dividing their time between Minnesota and New Mexico, he and his wife Phyllis have been full-time residents of Santa Fe and communicants of the Church of the Holy Faith since 1998.