Another church a couple miles east has already moved. St. James Episcopal Church left its old home on MLK a few years ago and moved to a spacious new facility on Webberville Road. Renette Bledsoe, senior warden at the church, says they deliberately stayed in East Austin.
“That’s just simply the historical foundation of this church, and sure, the church could have moved someplace else, but that is not what the people wanted,” she says.
Bledsoe says the church follows a philosophy of “radical hospitality,” making a point to include people of all ages, ethnicities and sexual orientations. St. James was originally founded in 1941 as a space for African-Americans who, at the time, weren’t welcome at Austin’s white Episcopal churches. Bledsoe said the church’s 16 original founders actively recruited a more diverse congregation.
“People made an effort to go out and invite others to come and to worship, people that may not have looked like them, to invite them to come in and to worship,” she says, “and then more people invited people to come in.”
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