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Bicyclists, pedaling furiously, sweat spraying off their bodies, flew by the Aspen Vista parking lot on the ski area road the morning of Aug. 3 as the Rev. Jon R. Anderson read a collect from A New Zealand New Zealand (zē`lənd), island country (2005 est. pop. 4,035,000), 104,454 sq mi (270,534 sq km), in the S Pacific Ocean, over 1,000 mi (1,600 km) SE of Australia. The capital is Wellington; the largest city and leading port is Auckland.  Prayer Book:

"The passage called on the God of 'unchangeable power' to open our eyes to the wonders of creation and teach us to use all things for good."

Anderson and about a dozen other people -- as well as two dogs, Toby and Jane -- gathered at the trail head for a "liturgical hike" and celebration of the Eucharist. In the woods, there would be no pews, no organ music, no traditional homily homily (hŏm`əlē), type of oral religious instruction delivered to a church congregation. In the patristic period through the Middle Ages the focus of the homily was on the explanation and application of texts read or sung during the , but a chance to walk and talk with each other and enjoy the mountain vistas.

Anderson, an Episcopal priest, began Worship in the Wilderness -- a ministry of St. Bede's Episcopal Church Episcopal Church, Anglican church of the United States. Its separate existence as an American ecclesiastical body with its own episcopate began in 1789. Doctrine and Organization
 -- three months ago with a four-mile hike along the Borrego/Bear Wallow wallow

mud bath frequented by pigs, elephants, red deer, hippopotami as a cooling aid.
 Trail. "I've always loved the out-of-doors, and I feel most close to the holy when I'm outside," he said.

Anderson, who has an MBA MBA
Master of Business Administration

Noun 1. MBA - a master's degree in business
Master in Business, Master in Business Administration
 from Kansas University, was in corporate banking, venture capital and public utility finance before earning his Master of Divinity Noun 1. Master of Divinity - a master's degree in religion

master's degree - an academic degree higher than a bachelor's degree but lower than a doctor's degree
 degree from Church Divinity School of the Pacific Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) is one of the eleven seminaries of the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. It is located in Berkeley, California, and is a member of the Graduate Theological Union.  in Berkeley, Calif. "Because of the things I did before, I thought I ought to be entrepreneurial as a priest. So this is it," he explained.

The group of hikers included a seminarian sem·i·nar·i·an   also sem·i·nar·ist
A student at a seminary.

Noun 1. seminarian - a student at a seminary (especially a Roman Catholic seminary)
, who is also interested in outdoor worship, an Episcopal priest living in Placitas, a parishioner from St. Michael's & All Angels in Albuquerque as well as members of St. Bede's.

Anderson said he is hoping to attract others -- especially "nonchurchy" people from the area who would describe themselves as "spiritual but not religious."

The liturgy is similar to the one used in Episcopal churches. "The only thing we don't do is the Nicene Creed," the Christian statement of faith, Anderson said. "I haven't heard one complaint and I'm not expecting any."

After a short walk to a wide section of the trail, Anderson read the second lesson for the day from Romans, Chapter 9. Farther on, by a large rock and a bit of shade, the group stopped for lunch. Once people had finished their snacks, Anderson read the gospel, the story from Matthew 14 about how the disciples fed the crowd that had gathered on the shore to meet Jesus with five loaves and three fishes. Then Justin Cannon, a divinity student who had traveled from California, led the Prayers of the People.

Instead of a homily -- "When you go to other churches, you hear enough preaching." -- Anderson invited the hikers to reflect on the gospel. "What does it say that so many can afford to pay a lot for food while others struggle?" he asked.

Susan Odiseos, who is involved in developing an interfaith shelter for homeless families, observed: "One of the great things about (my) ministry is bringing together people who have never been next to a homeless person An individual who lacks housing, including one whose primary residence during the night is a supervised public or private facility that provides temporary living accommodations; an individual who is a resident in transitional housing; or an individual who has as a primary residence a  they could engage with."

Cannon pointed out that in contemporary Jewish culture, eating with someone was an intimate affair, and to share that experience with 5,000 others, as the gospel reports, was "quite radical."

In preparation for the Holy Communion, Anderson set two squishy squish·y  
adj. squish·i·er, squish·i·est
1. Soft and wet; spongy.

2. Sloppily sentimental.

Adj. 1.
 red bowls from REI on the rock behind him. In one, he placed the host, a homemade roll; and into the other, he poured red wine from a plastic water bottle. After they were consecrated con·se·crate  
tr.v. con·se·crat·ed, con·se·crat·ing, con·se·crates
1. To declare or set apart as sacred: consecrate a church.

2. Christianity
, each hiker passed the communion to the next person in the circle.

After the service, some of the worshippers continued on toward Tesuque Peak for a distance while others turned back to the parking lot.

"The occasion of getting together and going some place together to celebrate the Eucharist is a powerful experience," concluded Tim McIntire, a teacher.

The next outdoor liturgy is scheduled for Sept. 7. Anderson is thinking of adding a second, more strenuous, hike each month if there is enough interest.

The next liturgical hike is scheduled for the first Sunday in September. Check the Web site for information on the location.

Contact Anne Constable

at 986-3022 or


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Title Annotation:Local News
Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Aug 17, 2008
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