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The stitchers are now taking up another project: 26 needlepoint cushion for kneelers in every church and group in the diocese, which has about 5,000 members across Utah.
Barbara Losse has been worshipping at St. Mark’s since 1955.
‘Where We Worship’ seriesThe Salt Lake Tribune is featuring Utah’s sacred spaces this year. To read previous stories in this monthly series, go to www.sltrib.com
Today » St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral in Salt Lake City
Location » 231 E. 100 South, Salt Lake City
Built » 1874
Size » Seats 500
Cost » $40,000
Architect » Richard Upjohn
Features » Sandstone exterior, vaulted ceilings with wood beams, mahogany bishop’s chair, needlepoint seat cushions and kneelers
Her family moved from St. Louis when young Barbara was 8. She was confirmed three years later, sang in the children’s choir, attended the early service for young people and joined in the church’s activities.
In her 20s, Losse left Utah for a while but eventually found her way back to St. Mark’s and has never left.
"I am liturgical, and I love the pomp and ceremonies," she says, "but mostly St. Mark’s feels comfortable. The distinction between sacred space and a gathering place is blurred."
The cathedral, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, hosts many events, including interfaith gatherings and concerts, Losse says. "It is important that it not be a once-a-week place."
Losse now works for the diocese, and her parents’ and sister’s ashes are buried on the west side of the cathedral, under the pavers that line the walkway. Their names are inscribed on a marble wall running alongside the church.
It is called a columbarium — meant to house cremated remains — and was the brainchild of Elvira Charles, the former wife of Utah’s Bishop Otis Charles, who served the diocese from 1971 to 1986.
After he retired, in 1993, the couple divorced. Otis Charles announced publicly that he was gay and moved to San Francisco. In 2004, he and Felipe Sanchez-Paris had a commitment ceremony. Four years later, they married.
On Saturday, Paris’ ashes will be interred at St. Mark’s.
For Waldon, the dean, such a burial is a fitting reminder that church is at the center of life’s passage from birth to death.
Looking out of his window, he says, "you can’t help but think God’s church has been here forever."
This cathedral, he says, is one for the ages.
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