A Short History of Little Shepherd of the Hills
Singing Rock of Ages in the shadow of Crestone Creek babbling along during the liturgy. There is a quality to the services at Little Shepherd of the Hills Episcopal Church unique to this diocese..
Of course they would be unique. Nestled at the base of the Sangre de Cristos, Crestone is a destination town. It's new age trendy and old west frontier at once, boasting as many Hindu prayer flags as horses. The setting has long attracted various disciplines of meditation with ashrams, temples and monasteries scattered throughout the winding roads. Built in 1885, Little Shepherd is the oldest of theses spiritual centers in this community that boasts of being the spiritual capitol of Southern Colorado.
Little Shepherd sits on five "city" lots set back along the creek amidst tall pines along Alder Street next to the town hall. In this pastoral setting there would appear to be nothing anyone could add. However, the only running water is in the creek and Fr. Yesu (the Reverend Dr. Yesupatham Duraikannu), Rector of Ascension Episcopal Church in Salida, Finds this lack almost laughable in this century. Little Shepherd is a mission church with Ascension as its own shepherd.
"There is no toilet…Really no water," he said. We need to expand the church to include a small kitchen and a bathroom." Fr. Yesu's vision is a very small log cabin next to the existing structure, which would increase its' potential for not only the small congregation, but as an outreach in the community. Episcopalians from nearby Moffatt, Mosca and Saguache attend as well as many visitors. The guest register reveals visitors from California, Denver, New Mexico and Washington D.C., some of whom just stop by the unlocked church to pray and meditate.
The good news is the town of Crestone will be running a water line along Alder Street, a fact that has town clerk, Akia Tanara, excited. The town hall has been getting by without running water for many years. "once that line is installed—and there is no time line as things don't move to quickly here—it will be simply a matter of running a line from the street to the church and then hooking up to the sewer line, which is already in place," Tamara said. She fully expects that line to be in place along the street by the end of the year.
The bad news is the cost will be considerable to house that running water and keep pipes from freezing in the winter. Fr. Yesu and several members of Ascension knowledgeable in the building trades estimate the cost of the cabin and running the lines will be in the neighborhood of $20 to $35 thousand.
A recent service followed by a potluck picnic introduced many of the Salida parishioners to Little Shepherd of the Hills. The 9:30 AM service was held at 11:30 AM outside under perfect weather conditions. There is seating inside for only 20, which is more than adequate under ordinary conditions. Inside the old church is a pump organ as ancient as the exterior, and all the accoutrements for a proper Eucharist.
"It's not the Washington Cathedral, but it is so special to us," said some summer residents who attended the special service. After years of allowing the Little Shepherd of the Hills to rest on its Laurels, there is impetus now and enthusiasm for this project that was missing in large part before the service/picnic. It also needed a priest with the vision and timing of Fr. Yesu to see the potential.
In a parish full of giving members, there will be some scouting the nearby mines and ghost towns for old cabins that might be moved to the site, while others will be increasing their annual pledges. Who knows, someone might come up with a "10 K run for the running water."
By Mindy Saunders
Church of the Ascension, Salida