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Taos, NM Reader's Chapel Taking Shape

Claire Brandenburg in Taos, NMClaire Brandenburg in Taos, NMIn the picturesque artist enclave of Taos, New Mexico, dedicated Orthodox Christians have been laboring to begin a new community that will be the foundation for a mission parish. Author and illustrator Claire Brandenburg has been working through the approval process in order to secure a rented Chapel space. Services will begin when the town allows for the Special Use designation and everything is in place. A mature parent community, Holy Trinity of Santa Fe with Fr. John Bethancourt, has offered their support as well, and the fledgling chapel is hoping to become the second Antiochian parish in the state. recently interviewed Claire Brandenburg.

1. Tell us about how this effort got started.

We are a small group of three with one inquirer, all with big hopes of fishing for like-minded persons in this community. Our bookstore will offer lots of bait...good reading, gift items, cards, coffee and tea. Several of us live at a distance from Taos, as there are many outlying communities in the County, of which Taos is the hub. The group is mature in years and have felt that the need for a Church in Taos has become more pressing.

2. How are your plans shaping up, and have you been able to hold services yet?

I am planting a sign this morning in front of our "business" indicating that a process establishing "Special Use" for a Chapel has begun. Our first meeting with the Town of Taos begins on July 7th. It is followed by another meeting in August. If we are approved at those meetings we will then need to make changes in the building for ADA compliance. These changes are relatively simple, though checkbook stretchers. We anticipate that our services will start in mid-August or possibly at the beginning of the Orthodox New Year in September.

3. Taos has long been a destination for spiritual seekers. How do you see Orthodoxy fitting into the local community?

We feel it is an ideal community for offering an Orthodox presence. It is indeed a community that searches for God. It is a community of great physical beauty as well. What better place and what an extremely wonderful offering Orthodoxy is to all who hunger for God.

4. You are an Orthodox author and artist, and also an iconographer. Will you be doing any work for this new community's iconastasis?

Our space is very small. It is 7.5 feet wide and 22 feet long. Our iconastasis will be very small with room only for Christ and the Mother of God. We will begin with reproductions for those icons and add icons as we proceed. And yes, I hope to write icons for our chapel.

 5. How can the Orthodox faithful of your diocese help and support your efforts there?

We would much appreciate names of people who are already Orthodox that live in or around the Taos community. It is a retirement community and often people have second homes here. Also, any donations to magnify our investment will help make our offerings both in the chapel and in the bookstore more interesting and more intriguing to our "customers," and will also will be to the glory of the Mother of God and her most Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.