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Finding Old Churches Out West

Finding Old Churches Out West
When I think of old buildings, I tend to picture those I've seen in Paris or Amman. In the U.S., my thoughts of old buildings take me to the East Coast. So, I was pleasantly surprised on a family vacation recently when we saw some old churches, including the oldest church in the United States. Where were we? New Mexico.

In Santa Fe, we found the oldest church in the United States - San Miguel Mission. Built early in the 17th century, this old Spanish mission continued through wars and border changes. The church predates the birth of the United States by more than 150 years. Parts of the original structure are still intact and Mass is still celebrated there 400 years after its founding.

A few hours south of Santa Fe, we visited the ruins of three pueblos in Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. The key structure in each community was the ruins of a 17th century church. The Quarai Mission was constructed 1627-1632. The community was abandoned in 1678. The Abo Mission was first constructed 1623-1628, and then enlarged 1640-1658. The community was abandoned in 1673. The Gran Quivira Mission was constructed starting in 1659 and may not have ever been finished. A smaller Mission nearby was constructed 1629-1635. The community was abandoned in 1672.

My view of Christianity in what is now the U.S. was changed by the trip to New Mexico. Christianity historically moved in many ways and in many communities that don't fit our traditional narratives. It's good for us to recognize the diversity our faith.

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