Ranchos Presbyterian Church celebrates 125 years

By Jesse Moya
jmoya@taosnews.com
Posted 8/17/17

Parishioners of the Ranchos Presbyterian Church gathered Sunday (Aug. 13) as their church celebrated 125 years of tradition and service in the community.

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Ranchos Presbyterian Church celebrates 125 years

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Parishioners of the Ranchos Presbyterian Church gathered Sunday (Aug. 13) as their church celebrated 125 years of tradition and service in the community.

Friends and guests were welcome for the celebration at the Ranchos de Taos church. A crowd of nearly 90 people joined in with dancing, food and a special memorial service remembering more than a century of faith. The event kicked off at 9 a.m. with a normal Sunday morning worship service and was enhanced by memories of the past and several stories of the journey the church has taken over the years. Songs in English and Spanish filled the halls of the small adobe church as members smiled and greeted one another for the occasion.

Toward the end of the service, two of the church’s senior members spoke of the church’s earlier days and struggles.

“We had no fellowship, no running water and no gas heating,” said Emma Gomez, a member since 1940. “We had a wood stove. We had a minister and some followers who would build a fire Sunday mornings.”

During the special service, Gomez and other senior members of the church spoke of their time and dedication. Some stories prompted laughter as parishioners shared stories of making do without restrooms or running water for some time during winter services.

While the church has all the needed fixings for a building today, the journey has been a long one to get there. Constructed in the 1930s, the building has original floors and vigas, along with the oak pews from a Methodist church in Ratón. The church was founded in 1892 and originally called La Iglesia Presbiteriana del Rancho. James D. Roberts, the original pastor of the church, was replaced by J.M. Whitlock in 1892 and is noted by the church as the first minister from 1892 to 1898.

Followers turned out in support of the church for both the services and the feast after. Musicians played and several members danced in the cool morning. Many of the parishioners have been longtime members of the church. They and newer members to the historic church make up the small congregation for services.

“I’m impressed – there’s a lot of really good folks here,” said church member Frank Crews. “I think the thing that I like is the fact that it seems like everybody is willing to do a share of the work. I like the attitude that a great number of the people are willing to pitch in and do things for the church.”

Crews has only been a member of the church for a few years, but he says the members of the community he is surrounded with at Ranchos Presbyterian Church care about each other.

After a blessing of the meal, members and friends were hurried into the food lines and the festivities took off. They offered even passersby the opportunity to grab a meal. Under tents and seated at tables, parishioners talked about ongoing renovations and the addition of bathrooms, as well as new storage.

Many of the longtime members were optimistic about the future of the church.

“With God’s help, maybe we can last another 125 years,” Gomez said during the service.

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