Vision Statement for St. Paul’s, Marfa, Texas
St. Paul’s is an open, loving community
growing in the experience and understanding of the love of God,
acting to share the visible presence and compassion of Christ.

Mission Statement for St. Paul’s, Marfa, Texas:
Our mission is to be a welcoming, prayerful, caring community
actively sharing the love of God.

Values Statement for St. Paul's Marfa, Texas
To accomplish our mission, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church bases its decisions and actions on the following core values:
  • Love of God and neighbor by honoring the worth and dignity of every human being including ourselves.
  • Daily relationship with God all through our lives through prayer and service.
  • The importance of giving and receiving forgiveness through the generosity of the Holy Spirit.
  • We value continual learning.
  • We value the Episcopal tradition of communal worship.
  • Practicing hospitality by welcoming all and serving and sharing with our communities.
  • The stewardship of God’s creation and all its inhabitants.


See Important dates at the end of this essay

There will be no newsletter for two weeks--next one will be on July 4th.

This Sunday is TRINTY SUNDAY

Come with me to the fourth century, and let’s listen in on a debate between Athanasius and Arius. Is Jesus the Christ really God or not? That was at the heart of the debate. The Nicene Creed said that Jesus was indeed “begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. . . .” In other words, Christ was not made out of nothing as we are, but he was “begotten,” generated from the very substance of God. When we look at Jesus, we are looking at God. Jesus is as much of God as we ever hope to see because this Jew from Nazareth is “of one Being with the Father.”

This was too much for Arius. He rejected the creed’s notion that Jesus was fully divine. “What makes God God?” asked Arius. God is God because God can never be down on a human level.

Divinity is self-contained, fully complete within itself, needing nothing else. Arius rejected the notion that so exalted and self-contained a being as God should be directly involved with his creatures. To do so would be to dirty the hands of the pure, absolute God, to risk God’s being dependent upon or connected to mere creatures.

Arius wondered, “Who wants a God who is so weak as to need us for anything? The Son,” said Arius, “is not equal to God in any way, but is made out of nothing by God. The Father . . . is alone God.” 

Enter Athanasius, who argued against Arius that Christ’s complete dependency upon God was supreme validation that Jesus was indeed God. Being self-contained, superior, distant, removed from creation is not the essential mark of divinity, said Athanasius.

Arius felt that the Nicene Creed had dangerously compromised the notion of a distant, absolute God with its affirmation of Jesus as God’s Son. What kind of God would lower himself to dirty his hands in human flesh or walk the streets of Nazareth? If absolute distance, independence, is not the decisive mark of divinity, then what is? Here’s a clue. In the Gospel of John it is said that everything the Father has, he has given to the Son (16:15). Because the Father loves the Son, the Father has given all things into his hand (3:35).

What is the decisive mark of God? Self-giving. Between the Father and the Son there is total and mutual self-giving. So when we look at the Son, we are looking at the Father (12:44).

Arius’s God is a static deity who tenaciously holds onto divinity, keeping distance from the contingent, painful world of creatures and humanity. Athanasius’s God, the God of the creed, is a dynamic God eternally engaged in self-giving. The Father holds nothing back from the Son.

All the glory that God has got is given to the Son, who in turn gives back all glory to the Father. 

Athanasius charged Arius’s “god” with being an agonos theos, a sterile deity who doesn’t generate, give, or reveal. The triune God is always busy relating, communicating, giving. When we look at Jesus, we see so much of God because Jesus is totally at one with God. On the other hand, Jesus is constantly turning us toward God because Jesus is busy giving back to God the glory that God has given him. So a symbol for the Trinity is three interlocked circles, showing love coming from and going back constantly. God’s great majesty and glory is in God’s closeness rather than in God’s distance, in God’s determination to be in relationship with the world—human and animal—rather than God’s unbridgeable distance.

So Jesus told a story about a father who had two sons. One asked for his inheritance, and his father gave it to him. When the prodigal son had blown his inheritance, the father welcomed him and threw a party. And when the older son pouted because he wanted a party, the father didn’t give him a party; he gave him everything (Luke 15).

When this God gets to self-giving, God doesn’t know when to stop. Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—is our experience of God’s creative, constantly connected, extravagant love. The Trinity loves us enough to give us good things to do in the world as stewards in our care of God’s beloved creation, for which God has complete, self-involved love.

3 - Dates

Our Book study focusing on The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault begins one week from tonight. It will be held on Thursday nights beginning on June 13 and ending on July 18th. It will be held in the Casita in Alpine (510 N. 2nd St.) at 6:30 in the evening. Our own David Mainz will be the facilitator. We have extra copies of the book at the church.


An important discussion/meeting awaits you
following the 10:30 Eucharist.....

What does it mean to be an Episcopal Church in Far West Texas, in the Diocese of the Rio Grande and part of the world wide Episcopal Church? 

As we understand and translate these statements and values into actions, what are some ways St. Paul’s can participate/ are participating with: 1) the communities we live in.  2) the Episcopal Diocese of the Rio Grande and  3) the world-wide Episcopal Church?

How do we support the people and Vicar of St. Paul’s who strive to live this out? 

All this discussion will be done in the context of the vision for Far West Texas in the Diocese of the Rio Grande:

  • The possibility of a curate living in the Vicarage...putting time into St. Paul's and the surrounding churches and communities of the Big Bend Region.
The possibility of the five episcopal churches in the region in order to be able to better minister to the area and grow the churches. PLEASE NOTE: this does NOT mean pooling our financial resources and losing our independence and identity. 
A celebration of thanksgiving for Bill and Gail Smith who have made the drive form Sanderson for almost 28 years to Marfa and provided beautiful music from our organ.

We will begin with the Eucharist at 10:30 and followed by a pot luck lunch.

Shalom, Y'all

Trinity with Saint Jerome, by Andrea del Castagno


Trinity Sunday

June 16,2019

Proverbs 8:1-4, 22-31
Psalm 8
Romans 5:1-5
John 16:12-15

Trinity Sunday: Explaining

How to explain the Trinity. There have been books (and lots and lots of ink spilled) going into minute detail. There have been analogies: the Trinity is like an egg - shell, yolk, white or the Trinity like a candle - wax, wick, flame. There have been visuals. Some are pictorial - Jesus on the cross, a dove above his head, and an old white guy at the very top of the picture. Some visuals are more diagram - like the shield of the Trinity below. Around the outside of the triangle we are reminded that the Father is not the Son is not the Spirit is not the Father. Moving to the middle of the triangle we see that Father, Son, and Spirit are all God.

John 16:12-15 is one of the scripture passages where all three persons of the Trinity are mentioned in some kind of relationship. There are others in scripture. But none of those verses offer a definitive explanation of just how the Trinity relates to one another. So theologians have stepped in to try to explain.

Augustine (354-430) was one of those who attempted an explanation. His work De Trinitate (On the Trinity) is not his most well-known work, and, in fact, it was published before it was completed to Augustine's satisfaction. But in it he does try to explain the Trinity to the critics of the doctrine (remembering the issues around the controversy answered in orthodoxy by the Nicene Creed's  assertion of Jesus as "of one substance" or the same substance as the Father) and to remind Christians that should remember themselves as made in the image of a triune God.

Botticelli. Vision of St. Augustine. Predella of St. Barnaba Altarpiece. c. 1488. Florence: Uffizi Gallery. 
Not surprisingly, undertaking to explain the Trinity could be a daunting task. A legend (based on nothing written by Augustine) says that while Augustine was wrestling with De Trinitate he had a vision. Augustine was by the seashore when he saw a child with a seashell (or a spoon). The child had dug a hole in the sand and was running between the ocean and a pool of water that had gathered in a hole. When asked by Augustine what was happening, the child replied, "I am emptying the ocean into this pool."
     "Impossible!" Augustine pronounced.
     The child, apparently unawed by the learned theologian, replied, "I'll empty the ocean into this pool before you manage to understand and explain the mystery of the Trinity!"
     The legend concludes with Augustine turning around, only to find the child had disappeared. So Augustine was left alone with the mystery of the Trinity.

And in many ways, so are we.


Take Aways For This Week

1) This is a perfect week to reflect on the doctrine of the Trinity, a crucial teaching with which many Christians are unfamiliar - and which others understand to be too vague, esoteric, or downright weird to be of much use in their daily lives.  Revisiting the doctrine as a valuable, decidedly practical teaching is therefore a pressing task, and a great place to start is to recover its origins in the lived experience of the early church. Encountering Jesus, early disciples found themselves face-to-face with Immanuel, “God with us,” the good shepherd who seeks and finds and saves the lost.  Encountering the Spirit, early disciples found themselves heart-to-heart with God, the guide and advocate who makes the church possible and sustains creation. In the end, the doctrine of the Trinity is about a God who is living and active in our lives: creating and recreating, teaching and guiding, protecting and empowering. Thinking about the doctrine through Proverbs 8, we may catch sight of how Jesus embodies divine wisdom and the Spirit draws us more deeply into living out that wisdom.  And thinking through John 16, we may discern a Trinitarian shape to the story of salvation itself.

2) Another way the idea of the Trinity is practical is that it casts a vision of God as fundamentally relational, constituted by relationships between Father/Mother, Son, and Holy Spirit. And if human beings are created in the imago Dei, then in our own way, we must be fundamentally relational, too, constituted by our relationships with God and one another. This is an important message to proclaim in an era too often dominated by individualism, isolation, and loneliness (particularly in the West), and in any case is a helpful reminder that relationships aren’t just something we “do” - in a deep sense, relationships are who we are. (Thanks to Rev. Carol Johnston for emphasizing this point!)

3) Here’s one more practical vision of the Trinity, this one from C.S. Lewis.  Imagine “an ordinary simple Christian” at prayer, Lewis says - his voice crackling over the airwaves in one of his famous radio addresses (the same reflections he eventually collected into Mere Christianity).  Her prayer is directed toward God - but it is also prompted by God within her in the first place.  And at the same time, as she prays she stands with and within Jesus as part of the Body of Christ (recall how Christians typically pray “in Jesus’ name”).  In short, as this “ordinary simple Christian” prays, God is three things for her: the goal she is trying to reach, the impetus within her, and her beloved companion along the way - indeed “the Way” itself.  Thus “the whole threefold life” of the triune God “is actually going on” around and within her, Lewis says - and as she prays, she “is being caught up into the higher kinds of life,” which is to say, into God’s own life, three and one, one and three (Lewis, Mere Christianity, 4.2).


13th - 6:30 -
Book Study in the Casita
The Wisdom Jesus
Cynthia Bourgeault

13th - Thursday - Gilbert Keith Chesterton, Apologist and Writer, 1936
14th - Friday - Basil the Great, Bishop of Caesarea, 379
15th - Saturday - Evelyn Underhill, 1941

16th - Trinity Sunday 
9:15 - Bible Study
10:30 - The Holy Eucharist
16th - Sunday - George Berkeley, 1753, and Joseph Butler, 1752,                                                                 Bishops and Theologians

June 17th - July 3rd
Susan and Fr. Mike's Anniversary Tour

18th - Tuesday - Bernard Mizeki, Catechist and Martyr in Mashonaland, 1896
19th - Wednesday - Adelaide Teague Case, Teacher, 1948

20th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita
The Wisdom Jesus
Cynthia Bourgeault

22nd - 9:30-Noon - Order of St. Luke
Big Bend Regional Medical Center, Alpine
22nd - Saturday - Alban, First Martyr of Britain, c. 304

23rd - Second Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 7
9:15 - Bible Study
10:30 - Morning Prayer led by Allison Scott

25th - Tuesday - James Weldon Johnson, Poet, 1938
26th - Wednesday - Isabel Florence Hapgood, Ecumenist and Journalist, 1929

27th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita
The Wisdom Jesus
Cynthia Bourgeault

27th - Thursday -Cornelius Hill, Priest and Chief among the Oneida, 1907
28th - Friday - Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, c. 202

29th - 9:00 - 3:00 - Saturday - Bless to Be A Blessing - Women's Retreat
Exploring how our faith fore-mothers inspire and empower us. 
Register online at or contact Cindy Davis (
Cost is $20 to cover lunch and supplies.

Holy Spirit, Gallup, New Mexico

30th - 10:00 - Third Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 8
No worship at St. Paul's.
Marfa Ministerial Alliance 5th Sunday Worship
First Presbyterian, Marfa

First Presbyterian will provide lunch
People are asked to bring desserts.

No worship at St. Paul's.

1st - Monday - Harriet Beecher Stowe, Writer and Prophetic Witness, 1896
2nd - Tuesday - Walter Rauschenbusch, 1918, Washington Gladden, 1918,
and Jacob Riis, 1914, Prophetic Witnesses

4th - ThursdayIndependence Day

4th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita
The Wisdom Jesus
Cynthia Bourgeault

6th - Saturday - John Hus, Prophetic Witness and Martyr, 1415

7TH - Second Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 8
9:15 - Bible Study
10:30 - Morning Prayer led by Allison Scott
St. Paul's Place in the Big Bend Region, the Diocese of the Rio Grande and the Episcopal Church at large.

11th - 6:00 - Shroud of Turin
Talk by Dr. Stephen Mattingly
Building 98, Marfa

11th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita
The Wisdom Jesus
Cynthia Bourgeault

11th - Thursday - Benedict of Nursia, Abbot of Monte Cassino, c. 540
12th - Friday -  Nathan Söderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala and Ecumenist, 1931

13th - Saturday - Conrad Weiser, Witness to Peace and Reconciliation, 1760

14TH - Third Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 9
9:00 - Bishops Committee
10:30 - Holy Eucharist
14th - Sunday - Samson Occum, Witness to the Faith in New England, 1792

15th - 11:30 - Men's Hamburger Prayer Lunch
Mando's, Marfa

16th - Tuesday - “The Righteous Gentiles”

17th - Wednesday -  William White, Bishop of Pennsylvania, 1836
18th - 6:30 - Book Study in the Casita--Last Time
The Wisdom Jesus
Cynthia Bourgeault

18th - Thursday - Bartolomé de las Casas, Friar and Missionary to the Indies, 1566

19th - Friday - Macrina, Monastic and Teacher, 379
Adelaide Teague Case, Teacher, 1948

20th - 6:30 - Charlotte O'Brien - Kodey Key Wedding
St. Paul's, Marfa
20th - Saturday -  Elizabeth Cady Stanton, 1902; Amelia Bloomer, 1894;Sojourner Truth, 1883;
 and Harriet Ross Tubman, 1913, Liberators and Prophets

21st - Fourth Sunday after Pentecost - Proper 10
9:00 - Bishops Committee
10:30 - Holy Eucharist
21st - Sunday - Albert John Luthuli, Prophetic Witness in South Africa, 1967

Here is who we prayed for in church
last Sunday.

Any changes, please let us know.

The Church

Justin, the Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael, our Presiding Bishop, Michael, our Bishop and Michael, our Vicar….In the Anglican Cycle of Prayer we remember to Pray the Church of the Province of Myanmar (Burma). In our Diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for St. Stephen's, Ft. Stockton; Epiphany, Socorro. We Also pray for St. James, Alpine, St. Stephens, Ft. Stockton, Santa Inez, Terlingua, Chapel of St. Mary & St. Joseph, Lajitas, and the Marfa and Alpine Ministerial Alliances…. For Connor Travis and the ministry of Young Life

For Our Leaders

For Donald, our president, Greg our Governor, Manny our mayor-elect and the mayors and city managers of our surrounding communities…. our elected officials in Washington and all who exercise authority at any level of government. For all who struggle to make a more just society…

For the World

…for peace, that the Spirit will inspire human hearts to turn from violence, and work together to defeat the common enemies of disease, ignorance and poverty….For refugees and displaced persons, that God will guide to safety all who have fled violence and persecution, and help them find welcome in new communities…, for all who live and work in places of war and violence, For women and men and children who have been victims of sexual assault and sexual exploitation… for those whose lives have been turned upside down by various disasters: that God will help them rebuild their lives, give them strength to face their challenges and touch the hearts of many to assist them…,for all those in the military, especially those who come home broken in body, mind, and spirit …may the hearts of those reporting the news be drawn to what is true and right telling the truth in the most helpful way


For St. Paul’s and Prayer Wall
our mission to be a welcoming, prayerful, caring community actively sharing the love of God…. 
Pray: Peace of mind; Linda’s heart. Hope: Able to forgive; Thank: love in my life, saving me on my trip, for my husband…..

St. Paul’s Prayer List

Betty, Bill & Gail, Patty, Holly,  D'Ette, Merit and the Fowlkes family, James, Shere, Kevin and Jay, Lesly, Lila, Linda King, Melodie, Mimi, Pat & Mary, the Vana Family… FOR Jeanie Olivas, Vijaya, Frank, Larry, Jack Risen, Kathryn Anschutuz, Sue Ellen Kelly, Brian Hutchins who have cancer… FOR David and  Catherine in the midst of chemotherapy, …for Michael Simpson, Dale and Lee Ann, FOR Helen Bates, Gene, and Rucker who are in Hospice care….. for James and Brian Neal, Jacob, Linda & David, for Jenny, Megan and Elizabeth, for David who has MSA, Frank


Those who have died

Denise Corbe

How manifold are your works, Gracious One; you open your hand and all your creatures are filled with good things: we pray that you will grant us wisdom, and grant us courage, for the living of these days. For those in power and those without, for the 1% and not, for the privileged and the denied, for the believers and the doubters, for the whole and the broken, be our Redeemer, our Messiah, our Savior, our Strong Deliverer, our Trinity of all that is Holy. Amen. Amen.


Climate Change

O God, Creator of all thats is -
of seas and clouds, rains and rivers,
grass and trees, insects and fish,
humans, animals, birds and reptiles,
of all life connected, sharing this one earth -
we are aware that our way of living
is profoundly affecting the earth's climate,
that many people are in danger of flood and drought,
that some are greatly impoverished,
and the whole fabric of life is in danger.

to those who make international policies,
give wisdom and courage;
to those who direct industry and commerce,
give a concern for the common good;
to those who struggle for justice,
give strength and hope;
and to us all
give the grace and strength to change our ways
for the good of all that lives
and for your glory.

Presiding Bishop’s Pride Month statement honors LGBTQ Episcopalians


Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
In my years of ministry, I have personally seen and been blessed by countless LGBTQ sisters, brothers and siblings. Dear friends, the church has in like manner been blessed by you. Together with many others you are faithful followers of Jesus of Nazareth and his way of love. You have helped the church to be truly catholic, universal, a house of prayer for all people. You have helped the church to truly be a reflection of the beloved community of God. You have helped the church to authentically be a branch of the Jesus movement in our time. 
Your ministries to and with this church are innumerable. I could speak of how you often lead our vestries, and other leadership bodies in the church. I could speak of how many of you organize our liturgies of worship, lift our voices in song, manage church funds, teach and form our children as followers of Jesus, lead congregations, ministries and dioceses. But through it all and above it all, you faithfully follow Jesus and his way of love. And in so doing you help the church, not to build a bigger church for church’s sake, but to build a better world for God’s sake.
During June, Americans and people around the world observe Pride. Today, as we mourn the 49 people who were murdered at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando three years ago, I am mindful that Pride is both a celebration and a testament to sorrow and struggle that has not yet ended. Especially this month, I offer special thanks to God for the strength of the LGBTQ community and for all that you share with your spouses, partners and children, with your faith communities, and indeed with our entire nation.


Blessed to be a Blessing, sponsored by the Women’s Ministry of the Diocese, are one-day summer seminars exploring how our faith fore-mothers inspire and empower us to live and share our faith. On June 29 we’ll be at Holy Spirit, Gallup; and on July 27 we’ll be at St. Paul’s/Peace, Las Vegas. There will be a third ‘day’ at St. John’s, Alamogordo on August 10. Each day is from 9:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m. If you live within a 2-hour radius of the event, you are esp. invited to attend. If you live further, pick your favorite location and make it a girls’ weekend by inviting a friend to come and explore a new area and new church. Register online at or contact Cindy Davis ( Cost is $20 to cover lunch and supplies.




The Rev. Michael Wallens
Vicar - Saint Paul's Episcopal Church
P.O. Box 175, Marfa, Texas 79843
Office - 915.239.7409  |  Cell - 214-862-7292

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