Epiphany’s Clergy and Liturgy in the Mid-1960’s

Epiphany and its Anglo priests – John B. Luce, a bilingual Harvard graduate who had worked in Harlem, Roger Wood, a Stanford-trained lawyer active in the ACLU, and Oliver Garver, a UCLA and Harvard Business School alum – opened the doors of the church to the Mexican population and gave its culture a spiritual home and a platform.

The liturgy at Epiphany became bilingual and mass music was led with guitar, drawing on a “Misa Panamericana” developed by liberation theologians in Mexico. There were mariachi masses and Aztec dancers, murals and banners in the church designed by Chicano artists, and “papel picados,” brightly colored cut paper flowers hanging above the altar. Church meals served Mexican dishes, the Virgen of Guadalupe was installed in a side altar, and the Mexican flag flew outside next to the American flag. Such cultural inclusion in church life was not typical at the time, but built on reforms being made within the Episcopal Church and through Vatican II that were attempting to “modernize” church life.

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From left: Roger Wood, John Luce, Oliver Garver

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I went in there [to Epiphany] and the church was so beautiful with the papel picado and the mariachi mass, and I just wept because I needed a place as a Christian, but I needed a place as a Chicana as well.”  -Lydia Lopez

“I went in there [to Epiphany] and the church was so beautiful with the papel picado and the mariachi mass, and I just wept because I needed a place as a Christian, but I needed a place as a Chicana as well.” -Lydia Lopez

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