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First Liturgy in Taos, New Mexico

On Saturday, January 15, 2011, the first Divine Liturgy ever was celebrated in the new Holy Annunciation Chapel in Taos, New Mexico. Fr. John Bethancourt celebrated the service, the first ever in the Taos area, with the help from Subdeacon Raphael Nava and members of the choir and congregation of Holy Trinity Church in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Chapel founder Claire Brandenburg and several other local Taoseños also attended the service. Following the Liturgy, Fr. John led a presentation and discussion on the theology of Holy Icons in the attached Heavenly Ladder bookstore and coffee shop. It was a delight to see the further development of the Taos mission project and to assist the vine of the Orthodox Church as it takes further root in northern New Mexico.

Heavenly Ladder Bookstore was featured in a recent edition of The Taos News:

Taos' first Eastern Orthodox Christian place of worship is now open in a modest space just off Paseo del Pueblo Sur. The small chapel and bookstore is known as Heavenly Ladder, and its founder, Claire Brandenburg, hopes it will soon attract a community of followers.

"It's a place for people who want to come and talk and explore what the church is all about," said Brandenburg during an interview at Heavenly Ladder. "We're not going to beat someone over the head with evangelism, and we hope they're comfortable in whatever they find."

The two-room space is split into a bookstore and chapel. The shelves of the bookstore are filled with literature on the Orthodox church and icons depicting Jesus Christ and saints hang on the walls. The writings vary from pamphlets explaining the basic tenets of the Orthodox Church to ancient Russian texts bound in faded leather.

There is also a collection of children's books authored and illustrated by Brandenburg.