Each semester at Seminary of the Southwest, members of the student community are encouraged to create and lead Community Initiated Services (CIS) at Christ Chapel or in other spaces as part of the calendar of worship.
This past month, two especially meaningful services happened on the same week that highlight the importance and relevance of these worship services to the seminary community.
Middler Stephen McPeek, from the diocese of Hawai’i, led a service that commemorated the royal heritage of Hawai’ian culture.
“It was a pleasure and honor to plan the CIS in celebration of The Holy Sovereigns, Kamehameha IV and Emma, King and Queen of Hawai‘i,” said McPeek. “In cooperation with Michelangelo McPeek, Minerva Skeith and Nathan Jennings, we sought to incorporate authentic Hawaiian components into the feast. Community members were blessed and the Hawaiian music, liturgy, gestures, and the scent of flower leis flown in from Hawai‘i made a deep impact on our community. Seeing people blessed and having the sense that the King and Queen would have been blessed made the investment of love, time and money worth it.”
A few days later, Senior Greg Warren led a large group of students to plan a service that focused on inclusion, on the day when many in the LGBTQ+ community honor Matthew Shepard, whose death many say marked a new awareness of hate crimes against those in that community. “The idea behind the “Whole Human Family” service is to celebrate the diversity that we enjoy and that enriches our lives. The focus on bullying and Matthew Shepard in particular was to shine a light on the injustices done against those who are hurt just because they are different. The community at SSW is extremely open to these messages, and appreciates the stories they can carry out into their lives and ministries,” said Warren.
In addition to the service, Warren invited Austin’s Texas Chili Queens to provide lunch for the seminary community after the service.
Both services highlighted the rich diversity and practice of acceptance that permeates the Southwest community.