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Sunday Night Unplugged: Prayer and a prism of musical talent

The second Sunday evening of each month here in Pagosa has become a beautiful opportunity to focus on prayer and meditation at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church and it’s a unique way to enjoy the gift of music given to so many musicians who’ve been brought to this little mountain town from so many places around the country as they become a part of a one-of-a-kind worship service.

Sunday Night Unplugged was an inspiration given to Fr. Doug Neel and his wife, Sally, in the autumn of 2008.

The idea was formed to provide a spiritual setting for community prayer and meditation.

“Bringing special musicians in each month has brought a unique beauty to each service,” said Fr. Doug. “ We try not to make it too ‘Episcopalian’ so that it is approachable by people of different denominations and walks of life.”

While there is a structure to it, there is also uniqueness to each service because of the variety of styles of music, readings, and the personal reflections during periods of silence during the service. 

“The service seems to be a very nice fit in our beautiful spiritual setting of Pagosa Springs!” added Sally.

Abundant talent

There is a general observation here in Pagosa that the community has an extraordinary amount of musically gifted people, and a large number of them have felt honored to be a part of Sunday Night Unplugged, lending a special flavor to each of these early evening services.

The artists who have been a part of this brief but poignant tradition, also known as SNU, are widely varied in the genres from which they select music to play and have included such noted local talents as flautist Jessica Peterson, the band known as Bluegrass Cadillac, Grace in Pagosa worship leader Jason Rose, and classical guitarist Stephany Bouchier. Also offering their time and talent have been two local premier saxophonists, Bob Nordman and Bob Hemenger, along with a host of other remarkably gifted musicians. This kind of variety gives each SNU its “above-the-ordinary” essence.

Remembering firefighters

The most important focus of the evening, though, is always the prayer and meditation. Last Sunday evening’s time, for instance, was devoted to prayer for the firefighters of Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming, as well as their families. Times of silence devoted to meditation (listening for God’s voice) were underscored by specially chosen readings and beautiful arrangements of traditional hymns along with music from G. F. Handel, skillfully played by Divertimento String Quartet.

Plan to attend

If you haven’t attended Sunday Night Unplugged, mark your calendar for 5 p.m. on the second Sunday of each month and come for a quiet time of soul-soothing reflection and prayer.

St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church is located at 2625 S. Pagosa Blvd.

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