Religion on the Roaring Fork
December 21, 2007
In a valley where it’s hard to keep workers in the office on a powder day, church leaders have a lot of competition on Sundays.
With Christmas approaching, we decided to take the pulse of churches and religious institutions in and around Aspen by sending a handful of reporters out to talk with local spiritual leaders.
Are Aspenites just a bunch of lotus-eating nihilists? We wondered.
For many valley residents, just being in the mountains is a spiritual experience, but a look around Aspen’s downtown core yields the impression of material obsession, with flashy retailers abutting high-end real estate hock shops. And the town’s young, transient population seems more mired in earthly pleasures than seeking any divine, enduring wisdom.
But our unscientific survey produced some interesting results, including a glimpse of vibrant spiritual communities and longstanding institutions rivaling any in America’s heartland or the Bible Belt.
Nestled here and there among the town’s monuments to excess are some resilient little churches. Some, like St. Mary Catholic Church, date back to Aspen’s founding, and others, like Crossroads Church, are just getting off the ground. And the area is home to a broad spectrum of faiths, from Episcopalians to Christian Scientists and Latter-day Saints.
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Many church leaders decry the modern focus on materialism at Christmas, while others reflect that the holiday is a time of traditions, family and faith.
Here is a glimpse of a handful of local congregations, including one in Basalt. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it does hint at the variety of faiths in a place not known for its religiosity.