[Episcopal News Service, by David Paulsen] The Navajoland Area Mission is committed to fixing up one of its historic buildings in Farmington, New Mexico, as a labour of love. It would be easier and cheaper simply to demolish the 1922 structure, but this is no ordinary building. It originally served as an Episcopal hospital catering to the Navajo people. Generations of Navajo were born and treated at the hospital until it closed about 50 years ago. The hospital’s chapel remained in use until about a decade ago, when it too was closed, out of safety concerns.
Because of its deteriorating condition, saving the building is a herculean task, but through Episcopal Church grants, additional fundraising efforts and the dedication of Navajoland officials, a two-year restoration project had advanced enough to reopen the chapel last week in time for it to be re-consecrated and blessed during Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s recent visit to Navajoland.
“We put things on hyper-overdrive to get the chapel ready for the presiding bishop’s visit,” said the Revd Chan Osborn de Anaya, canon to the ordinary for Navajoland Bishop Dave Bailey. She called Hozho Chapel “the heart of the body of Christ in that old hospital.”
“The rest of the building will be finished hopefully in the autumn,” she said. The chapel will share the second floor with a new women’s wellness centre, while the ground floor will become the home of Cheii’s Web Development, an upstart enterprise created by Navajoland to teach young people coding skills and create jobs in web design.
“I’m very excited,” G J Gordy, manager and web developer with Cheii’s, told Episcopal News Service. “We’re going to start teaching web development and basic computer skills, and teaching has been a passion of mine, especially helping Navajo children.”
- Click here to read David Paulsen’s full report for the Episcopal News Service on plans for the hospital site and Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s week-long visit to Navajoland.