We are a community of Christians who have come to Orthodoxy from a variety of church and non-church backgrounds. Like thousands of other Americans who have discovered the ancient Faith, many of us spent years wandering in the wilderness of denominational decay. Weary of spiritual fads, on the one hand, and of secularism on the other, we sought the Ancient Path of Orthodoxy and found a true home. The parish is one of those in the Self-Ruled Antiochian Orthodox Christian Archdiocese of North America in the Diocese of Wichita and Mid America.
The Mission of Holy Trinity in Santa Fe, New Mexico was formed late in 1995. After years of study, Fr. John Bethancourt and Deacon Basil Rives led a small group of 22 souls out of the doctrinal and moral quagmire of the Episcopal church into the Holy Orthodox Faith. Bishop BASIL welcomed us with open arms and was God’s instrument of grace to bring us into the Church. Fr. John and Dn. Basil were ordained at the Cathedral in Wichita, early in January of 1996, and our first services began on January 7th of that year. Three months later, the people of Holy Trinity decided unanimously to venture out in faith from Subdeacon Raphael Nava’s home in which we had been meeting, and to purchase a house on a prominent road that could be converted into a Temple, parish hall, office, and classroom space. With that move came new catechumens and growth as a body.
Over the years, we have had scores of college students come and experience Orthodoxy in our midst, and many have converted to the Faith. They have been a source of fresh energy, and when they are sent out from Santa Fe after graduation they have become spiritual seed in the world. In addition to converts, with the birth of numerous children to our convert parents, we now have “cradle” Orthodox. And, of course, folks from various Orthodox backgrounds have also joined our congregation as “cradle” members. This has brought a wonderful blend of old and new. Our oldest convert was brought into the Church on her 93rd birthday. She was one of our most fiery and zealous members in the early years and helped dispel the myth of “I’m too old to change”. She also helped us all to think through many questions of how to live as Orthodox, and even how to die as Orthodox. In those early years of formation we decided to take back the whole funeral process from the hands of strangers and to place it again in community. We formed two burial guilds—one to prepare the bodies of men and the other for women—and we learned how to do all the things necessary for sending off our loved ones on that final pilgrimage from this world to the next. In those early years we discovered that the Orthodox Faith is a way of life, not merely a set of beliefs.
We thank God that our tiny flock is blessed to have had carpenters, musicians, teachers, a vestment maker, and even an iconographer, along with many other gifted folks who have helped us grow into a thriving parish. Although we are still a relatively small parish, we have had the joy of building a new Temple, transforming the ranch-style house we bought into our present “Southwest-Byzantine” church. In January of 2006, at the celebration of our 10th anniversary, Bishop Basil consecrated the church and elevated Fr. John to Archpriest and Dn. Basil to Archdeacon. Other highlights have included the raising up of three more priests for the service of the Church including Fr. John’s son, Fr. Daniel, ordained in June of 2008. In 2010 and 2012 two significant phases of iconography in our Temple were completed by a team of Russian iconographers. In addition, we have sponsored numerous lectures, open houses, book studies, inquirers’ classes, icon workshops, annual retreats, a bookstore, a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, have stocked the local libraries with Orthodox books, housed and fed the homeless and other forms of outreach. It continues to be our desire to share the fullness of the Orthodox Faith with all who dwell in Santa Fe—the city of Holy Faith.