The Marginalization of the Beauty in Impoverished Communities


An often-overlooked kind of religious building is the one constructed with limited resources or in challenging circumstances.  Such a building, however, possesses an elemental integrity and a high degree of architectural ingenuity.  In spite of its apparent simple-mindedness, this type of building turns into an icon.  A community’s investment of their own time and precious resources in a building offers a great deal of impetus toward its success.   When architects are forced to look beyond conventional building practices by the very real pressures of cost, they often find this process to be a surprisingly creative one.  In these situations, when the building does succeed economically, aesthetically and spiritually, the rewards may seem greater than when vast sums are spent without participation.

When an impoverished community feels the need to seek a new space for worship, the drive to make something from almost nothing has the potential to bring some lasting developments.  However, the sense of urgency has driven out the concern for aesthetics in the social pastoral activity of the Church.  When it is a time to build a church, congregations with fewer resources find themselves completely alone, without economic, technical or aesthetic resources.  The urgency for a worship space moves those marginalized congregations to build a place in whatever way they can; most of the time those spaces lack aesthetics and liturgical sense.  This paper will consider this observable fact as a marginalization of beauty in impoverished congregations.   I will, therefore, point out the need of beauty following the ideas of Hispanic theologians.  I will also examine the importance of the public sacred space as a place where all the effort, happiness and hope of a community take shape, and finally, will explore the celebration of some communities as the means for creating this space.  During my investigation, I have found several groups dedicated to offering a better worship environment to marginalized communities. As an example to illustrate this, I have selected the work of the University of Alabama. This work, called “The Rural Studio”, was inspired and guided by Samuel Mockbee and has helped and continues to help to recover the sense of beauty in Hale County, Alabama, one of the poorest places of the United States.


When the True and the Good fail to attract us, it is the sense of Beauty that can carry them into the imagination of our society.[1]

Beauty is given only a marginal place in contemporary theology.  Increasingly, art is seen as irrelevant for religious institutions.  The loss of Beauty in the realm of theology is seen as the result of a Western scientific and rationalistic worldview, which divorces form from content and marginalizes aesthetic form as un-academic.  In becoming an “academic” discipline, theology has lost its form and beauty and hence the ability to reflect the glory of God.  As a result, theology is unable to speak with a convincing or significant voice; it has become irrelevant, unattractive and unbelievable.

In the Western world, beauty has been moved to the realm of human sensibilities and is considered to be totally subjective.  Therefore, beauty has also been removed from any notion of ethics.  Beauty has also been viewed suspiciously from the perspective of Christian dualism, where the body and physical desire have been portrayed as evil or as the source of the downfall of humanity; beauty inherently has an embodied nature, and an association with attraction and desire.  Sadly, Beauty is seen as a distraction for the life of faith and not necessary for everyday life.

However, some liberation theologians have incorporated aesthetic resources in their historical research, uniting their preferential option for the marginalized with an emphasis on aesthetic theological expressions.  Some of them have examined the intersection of aesthetics and justice, arguing for the organic unity of the two.  Cuban-American theologian Roberto Goizueta links the demise of aesthetics to the growing irrelevance of theology to the churches and lives of Christians. In its effort to become an academic discipline, he says, theology has lost its ability to speak to people in a meaningful manner, and thus hast lost its ability to deliver the Christian message: “A theology that fails to thus move and motivate cannot claim to be speaking of the liberating God of the exodus or the crucified God of Calvary.”[2] The loss of aesthetics has resulted in rendering the Christian message unappealing and undeliverable.

Another theologian who works in this field is Alejandro García-Rivera.  The core of his thought is that “Theological aesthetics recognizes in the experience of the truly beautiful a religious dimension.”[3] This assertion affirms that Beauty is a result of divine initiative.  Therefore, human Beauty is something that is received and can be translated in terms of a relationship between God, the human person, and the community.  García-Rivera locates this encounter within the human heart; and Goizueta puts the intersection of aesthetics and ethics in a central place.  He insists that the role of aesthetics is integral and organic to the form and content of the Latino/a theological mission, emphasizing in religiosidad popular: “If Tridentine Western theology stressed the fact that God is known in the form of the True (Doctrine), and liberation theology that God is known in the form of the Good (Justice), U.S. Hispanic theology stresses the fact that God is known in the form of the Beautiful.”[4]  This relation between form and content is capital to Goizueta thought:

One of the most devastating consequences of Western rationalism on Christian theology has been the divorce between theological form and content… the depreciation of pre-conceptual knowledge, now universally suspect because of its diffuse and hence “countless” character.  In turn, the traditional forms of communicating such knowledge – symbols, ritual, narrative, metaphor, poetry, music, the arts – are necessarily marginalized as un-academic and unscholarly, that is, as pure (aesthetic) form without (conceptual) content.[5]

As it is evident in this excerpt, the separation of form and content has affected both the sources and norms of theology.

For Goizueta, the aesthetic is the essential dimension of the ethical.  The aesthetic is mediated by and encountered in the ethical, and the aesthetic is also what gives meaning to the ethical.[6]  It could be formulated as the encounter of the True, the Good, and Beautiful.  “And all three – imagination, reason, and ethics – have a single common and unifying ground: human praxis.  More precisely, affective, aesthetic, imagination, rational intellect, and ethical-political commitment are all intrinsic dimensions of human praxis.”[7]  The unity of the three transcendentals rectifies that one cannot be emphasized at the expense of another; they collaborate in unison.

García-Rivera understands the True, Good and Beautiful in terms of communities.  In particular, the community of the beautiful is not merely a community that is beautiful: “It is a community bound together through a loyalty to give anagogical direction to every concrete aspect of its life as community.”[8]  This community brings all of creation to participate in such direction.  “It is a community whose common cause is to bring human experience to a point where human nature reveals itself by transcending its own resources in the inspired encounter with the Son of God who revealed the fullness of our humanity to ourselves.  He also sought God’s delight and brought creation to participate in such delight.”[9]  This participation is known as the capax Dei, the human capacity as “finite human beings to know and love the infinite God.” This lost experience claims for a concrete space in our marginalized communities.

García-Rivera, based on the doctrine of the capax Dei, offers theological foundations not only to rescue the experience of the beautiful but also to co-fraternize with the traditional Liberation Theology’s claim for Justice. “Under the doctrine of the capax Dei, the beautiful becomes more than a mere reception of Beauty by human experience but a grasp, an insight, or even better an encounter with Beauty that stretches human experience to the point of self-transcendence in its grasp and encounter with Mystery’s Beauty.”[10] This is a knowing and loving encounter between God and the creation.  As García-Rivera argues, in order to love God we must also come to know Him and vice-versa.  In Christ’s passion, death, and resurrection, God has been revealed first.  This is the encounter and the experience that He invites us to participate in: “Do this in memory of me.”  This encounter is experienced in our Christian worship.  “The encounter with the sensible Mystery of the liturgy is an encounter made possible through dramatic form that weaves God’s freedom and ours into truly beautiful works of thanksgiving.”[11]

All communities deserves to experience this Mystery in the most appropriate way and in an appropriate place, this means a beautiful space where the community can please the Lord.  “It calls for an inspired response in the form of a human sensibility to, and creative attitude toward, pleasing God.”[12]  We are interested here in this point because such inspired conversation between the community and God takes a particular spatial form called worship space in response to what pleases the Lord.  On one hand, this has to generate a critical attitude of our artistic efforts to delight God.  On the other hand, we have to learn how to involve all the fuerzas vivas[13] (artist, academics, and universities) to collaborate concretely among marginalized communities.

The Social Sacred Space

Christian places of worship today, as they were in the beginning, are primarily places where the assembly gathers in the name of God.  Secondly, and in particular in the case of Catholic and Orthodox churches, places of worship may serve as places for personal devotion as well as places where the major Fiestas Religiosas, such as Christmas Eve, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Holy Week and the Fiestas Patronales can be celebrated.  This common place allows Christians to have a space to worship. Teresa Chávez Sauceda[14] defines it as “a social organization that provides public space in the life of a community.”[15]

In this public space, people come and meet, moved by similar interests and projects.  Usually, their actions take on a public character, bestowing upon them a particular identity, which is articulated with the rest of the society.  These are liturgical actions that shape the community life and its culture.  Chávez Sauceda describes this connection between culture and worship in her book, Alabadle! “Culture is the vehicle through which we express our faith in God, the tool we use to give praise to God, the words and images by which we pray to God.”[16] Our culture is also the vehicle through which we understand God’s voice. God comes to us in a way we can understand and in turn, we are able to respond to that voice as God speaks in a language we know well. God is certainly not defined by our culture, but our incarnational Lord chooses to speak through it.

Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship, issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2000, declares that the church is a house for the community when it gathers for liturgical celebration.[17]  Through these actions the congregation nurtures the lives of its members offering praise and prayer to God, sharing the same beliefs and participating in pastoral commitments.  Therefore, the church building should be an incarnation of the spirit of the building committee, of the spirit of the people of a parish, and of the spirit of the larger community in which the church is to be located.

The church building and the liturgical actions celebrated in or around it, as Chávez Sauceda insists, are “the public face of a congregation – it is where visitors and potential new members usually make their first contact with a congregation.”[18] Any congregation may manifest its beliefs, traditions, and values through the liturgical celebrations and through the spaces that it chooses to materialize them.  In the case of poor or social-political marginalized communities, “the local congregation gathered in worship is an autonomous public space where the community can name its own identity, and its own vision of society in light of its own faith claims and theological commitments.”[19] However, this reflection does not begin only with the building and then attempt to fit the people into it; this thought begins with the people and their liturgical activity and designs a building around them.

From the most remote village in Latin America to a new barrio in any modern city, church buildings rise proudly as fruits of their congregations who have built them.

Worship is religious drama – remembering the historical narrative of a community, creating collective memory, interpreting their shared experience today.   This collective identity resists the social fragmentation and loss of identity that is symptomatic of systemic racism.[20]

When marginalized communities try to publicly show their heritage, the power of the dominant culture pushes them down.  It is for this reason, as Chávez Sauceda claims, that “[t]he articulation of a distinctive cultural identity and sense of community represents a movement of resistance to racism.”[21]  Liturgical celebrations and churches deserve to be freely manifested above any dominant cultural influence.   Here lies the biggest resistance to any change.

The Celebration

The liturgical practice of the Christian Churches in North America is being gradually transformed by the diverse cultures represented in their membership.  To be a Christian of different denominations in this age can no longer mean the uncompromising acceptance of a foreign culture, including a foreign architecture and style of art.  Instead, it requires dialogue with particular communities in order to work toward adaptations that will honor their culture without changing the essence of the religion.

What defines a celebration (act of worship) according to Goizueta is that, “in the celebration, human community expresses its self-understanding as fundamentally recipient and respondent rather than as fundamentally doer and maker… in worship, human actions manifest themselves not simply as a doing, making, or achieving—not simply mechanistic, physical movement of the environment-as-object, or simple a ‘going from here to there’ –but as, above all, a receiving.”[22] A real sense of Justice requires a respect for all people, including their religious stories and customs.  We may recognize that traditions are a mosaic of stories.  In order to keep the stories alive, we must pass them on.  In order to pass them on, we must know them and remember them.

When the rites of the universal Church are radically adapted to reflect the identity and values of the particular churches, the rituals draw people into a deeper participation in the paschal mystery of suffering, healing, dying and living.  As an example, in the structure of Latino Fiestas described by Roberto Goizueta, we can see how “from the music to the narratives and dramatic reenactments that are so often an essential element of the celebrations, it serves to link the present celebration to the past (often in the form of the ‘dangerous memory’ of suffering) and the future (as anticipated, full realization of communitas).”[23] The dynamics of incorporating this aspect in the life of other communities will help heal the tension among races and ethnic groups.  The church building follows the same pattern.  As a symbol (that must be true and authentic in order to work as such) the building and its art must put worshipers in touch with their fundamental mission: to work for justice.

In terms of structure, this hospitality requires that the environment for worship be an inclusive space where all people feel welcome.  Exterior areas and entrances must be barrier-free.  Inside, the seating arrangement as well as the setting of the furniture for the liturgy, such as the ambo, font, and other elements must be accessible to all.  The art, music, language, gestures and movements must reflect the cultural identity of the assembly because, when this is the case, they stimulate active participation.

Issues of justice reach beyond the aesthetic and the physical aspects of the worship space.  There are still the questions surrounding the expenditure of money on building new churches when there may be other pressing needs in the community.  Can church buildings be justified economically?  Is it responsible stewardship to use resources to sustain buildings while people are uneducated, sick, oppressed and homeless?

The community house of prayer is the place that symbolizes the wounded, broken, vulnerable and celebrated body of Christ, the church.  In this place, the people gain strength to carry out the missions of the church.  Music that is inspiring, preaching that is imaginative, language, postures and gestures that are inclusive, art forms and architectural settings that are related to the cultural backgrounds are all environmental factors that can shape the community, lift it up and foster participation in the work of the gospel.

Places of worship and celebrations do not have to be ostentatious, but rather beautiful places that embody truth and proclaim originality.  Churches are places where the praise of God is linked to life and its demands.  Beauty and poverty need not be opposites.  Creating beautiful churches, and caring for people are not unconnected works.


In this new era of changing attitudes towards ecology, men and women are looking for real challenges while disregarding abstract ideas.  New voices are spreading around the world working for justice, trying to find lazos fraternales not as an abstract idea but in the field of every day life.  These new voices have allowed the unraveling of the bonds which kept them inside one culture, within only one point of view.

At the beginning of the 1990s, a period of economic expansion in North America, Samuel Mockbee founded Auburn University’s Rural Studio in Hale, Alabama’s second poorest county, Hale.  Rural Studio draws architectural students into the design and construction of homes and public spaces in some of the poorest counties in the United States.[24] They have been creating beautiful and economical structures that are almost unique in the world and that nurture the sustainability of the natural world as well as the building up of human dignity.  According to Andrea Oppenheimer, a former executive editor at Architecture magazine, “He was drawn to Hale County in part because it is so poor.  A place where thirty-five percent of the population lives in poverty obviously needed help and would force students to test their abstract notions about poverty by ‘crossing over into that other world, smelling it, feeling it, experiencing it,’ he said.”[25]  He found this place perfect because of its isolation.  Newbern, Rural Studio’s base, is 240 km from the university, 15 km from the nearest restaurant, and 70 km from the closest movie theater. The students were helped to focus their minds on their building projects by the total isolation of the placed as well as by Mockbee’s prohibition of watching television.  Oppenheimer keeps on saying: “At the Rural Studio [students] were exposed to the region’s architectural history, read its literary giants, and absorbed Mockbee’s lecture on responsibility and ethics.”[26]

When Samuel Mockbee created Rural Studio, his first intention was to enable each participating student to cross the threshold of misconceived opinions to create, design and build.  His wish was to allow them to put their skills to work as citizens of a community.  Mockbee was convinced that “everyone, rich or poor, deserves a shelter for the soul.” He believed that architects should take the lead in procuring social and environmental change, but that they had lost their moral compass and become, according to his own words, “house pets to the rich.” Through his teachings, Mockbee’s students have learned that Architecture as profession needed reform. “Sambo” as he preferred being called, was convinced that only the subversive leadership of academics can keep reminding students of the profession’s responsibilities.  His daily commitment was to get students out of the classrooms, usually a theoretical environment, and into what he called “the classroom of the community.”[27]

The Rural Studio was conceived as an opportunity to raise the spirits of the rural poor through the design of homes and community buildings.  The poor could get the same set of architectural benefits and virtues as those constructions, which have higher budgets and a wealthy clientele. “The Rural Studio represents a vision of architecture that embraces not only practical architectural education and social welfare but also the use of salvaged, recycled, and curious materials to create an appreciation of place.”[28] Sambo says: “I want to be over the edge, environmentally, aesthetically, and technically.”[29]

The Rural Studio has been seeking solutions to the needs of Hale’s community within the community’s own context, not from outside it.  “Abstract ideas based upon knowledge and study are transformed into workable solutions forged by real human contact, personal realization, and a gained appreciation for the culture.”[30]

The year Mockbee died (2001), the Rural Studio was working on a house plus five community projects.  There was a senior’s centre in Akron, a store in downtown Greensboro, a park pavilion in Perry County, and the Antioch Baptist Church, in the countryside about fifty kilometers northeast of Newbern.  This church is the one selected as an example for this paper.  This small church accommodates four core families served by a circuit minister. The original church, which once stood downhill from the newer structure, was deteriorating, so it was demolished and the students salvaged all materials for reuse in the new church — including roof and floor joists, wooden wall paneling, tongue and groove boards, and exterior corrugated metal.

The Antioch Baptist Church

In 2001, the students Gabe Michaud, Jared Fulton, Marion McElroy and Bill Nauck completed their final thesis project of their program at Rural Studio working on an existent church belonging to a small congregation based on four families and located in North West Perry County: the Antioch Baptist Church.  Andrew Freear, Mockbee’s successor, wanted his students, most of them not very religious, to experience black church culture.[31] The work consisted of restoring or replacing the small church that had neither restrooms nor baptismal font, and it had serious problems in its foundations.  Due to its defective structure, and probably other reasons, the chapel was losing membership.

The Antioch Baptist Church in Northwest Perry County

In spite of its “romantic little structure,” the team decided to build a new church because of the original church’s major foundation problems.  Since recycling and recovering are an intrinsic qualities of the projects of rural studio, the students acted in a very efficient way at the time, taking the old elements to provide them new life: roof and floor joists, wooden wall paneling, tongue and groove boards, and exterior corrugated metal.   Having demolished the existing church the students built a small chapel for the congregation, so they were able to continue to hold services on Sunday.

The first impression one has when observing the chapel is that of a new, modern and valuable structure.  The recycled building constitutes a brilliant and bold structure in the middle of the environment. The work in wood is integrated with metal buckets so that it makes more curious construction.  The architects describe it as two interlaced coverings.[32]  As we can see in the pictures, the students wanted their building to be as simple as its predecessor and reused about eighty percent of the old church’s materials.

The Antioch Baptist Church in Northwest Perry County. Interior

The volume of the church consists of two interlocking forms: one runs North-South containing the high South wall, the ceiling and the horizontal glass wall. The other volume runs East-West and forms the baptistery at the West and preacher’s room and restroom at the East entrance. The exterior of the building is covered by “galvalume-sheet steel” and wood. The new building has a dramatic sloping roof, held up by hand built composite metal and wood trusses, forming a retaining wall and water diverter next to the cemetery.

The liturgical space has a large north-facing window-wall that gives congregants, an eye-level view of their old cemetery. The baptismal font is below the baptistery and accessed by a secret tiled stairway. The south wall does not have windows as a way to avoid the strong sun in order to keep the church cool during the summer.  They students designed several openings at the floor’s edges to admit cool air from the crawl space. 

According to the information provided by Andrea Oppenheimer, “the church cost $35.000, $10.000 of which was raised by the congregation.  A donation by a Birmingham developer provided glass for the building, and old concrete blocks from renovated women’s dorms at Auburn were employed as footings.”[33]

In this small project we see big ideas.  Samuel Mockbee once said that small projects like this chapel lodge in his bosom the essence of architecture.  This is why we love these projects; they inspire us and they praise our career.[34]

The Yancey Chapel

Another example is the chapel Yancey (1996), known as “the chapel of the tires”, since the walls are constructed by means of disused tires, which were donated by a local scrapping. A cowshed donated the area and Mockbee suggested the idea of constructing a chapel. The tires had to be refilled by hand with mud before placing them in its place and covering them with stucco.  The wooden structure was recuperated from an abandoned building, and is overlaid with shingles tiles cut from discarded pieces of tin.  The floor was made with local stone.  “It is typical of the alchemy worked by Mockbee’s students that they created something so lyrical from such mean beginnings.”[35]  This is a simple project with sense of beauty, “a shelter for the soul”. (See below)

The Yancey Chapel
The Yancey Chapel
The Interior of the Yancey Chapel
The Interior of the Yancey Chapel
The Interior of the Yancey Chapel at night.
The Interior of the Yancey Chapel at night.


Gail Trechsel and David Moos, in their edited book about Samuel Mockbee, highlight which were the parameters that Sambo was using to define his creative enterprise:

  1. Moral Sense (good)
  2. Ability to Observe (truth)
  3. Sense of Wonder (beauty)

It is easy to recognize these virtues in his legacy, and his endeavors to link ethical, social and poetic realities.  As these two colleagues notice “at the core of his being, and at the centre of this thinking as an architect, was the drive for justice and a mutual respect for all human beings.”[36]  I have found in his work of deep beauty the reflection of his moral principles and his ideals of equality.  As we can see, Mockbee with his agenda has been the promoter of a social transformation in one of the poorest regions in North America, Hale County, Alabama. Under his guidelines, the Rural Studio under has learned a social process of helping people by knowing them. “What is required is the replacement of abstract opinions with knowledge based on real human contact and personal realization applied to the work.”[37] His ultimate desire was to make things better, particularly through doing good architecture.  He strongly believed in the power of architecture to change lives and solidify communities.[38]  The teaching methods that have been employed at the Rural Studio, which have replaced the usual intellectual work and paper architecture exercises with hands on design, considering construction in real contact with real clients, remind me of Liberation Theologians and their efforts put into praxis.  The direct contact of Rural Studio students with poverty has given them a moral sense of service to the community.[39]

Architects play a principal role in the definition of the public space. When they intervene with their profession they form the public space; they are building the common good by constructing the city.  In every project, architects manage resources from the community, resources of the society to which they must give them a good destination.[40]


            The lack of beauty in the architecture and art of churches in general is symptomatic of a more widespread disregard for beauty in the overall environment.  One way to address the lack of beauty in religious buildings is to recover the ancient understanding of architecture and its contributions to the quality of life in our communities.  Certainly churches need to be structurally sound and functional.  But what is missing from most plans is a concern for beauty, imagination and attention to the details in terms of scale, proportion, materiality, acoustics, color and light.  More consideration has been recently given to the arrangements of the assembly and locations of liturgical furnishings.  Little time, if any, is being spent discussing the merits of church buildings as works of art in themselves.

A limited budged is the most common excuse for not building churches as works of art since economy is a major item in every project. Nevertheless other reasons can be cited such as the difficulty of finding architects and designers who are also imaginative and creative artists, and the reality that most ministers do not value beauty as an essential component in Christian worship. These issues can be addressed because imaginative designers, architects and artists do exist. We have seen the example of Rural Studio.  Communities need to search them out.  As Richard Vosko, one of the most important liturgical consultants in North America, recommends, “Church leaders who do not understand the role of beauty in worship need to give the task of building and renovating churches over to someone who does.”[41]

Creating appropriate and beautiful churches does not have to be a demoralizing task.  The idea of a sacred place, a house of worship, implies that it ought to be a work of beauty.  In our Latin American tradition, what people expect of their own homes offers some perspective on the meaning of a house of worship.  Because a house of worship is also considered to be the house of Mary and Jesus, people want human warmth, delight, a sense of mystery, a place that unfolds gradually:  They want and deserve beauty.

The creation of outstanding churches will require a communal appreciation of beauty and a willingness to ask for professional help from designers and artists.  As we learned through the experience of Mockbee, these professionals must first learn the culture and faith traditions of the community and then create spaces and objects that will serve people in their worship.  Architects and artists need to design spaces as networks of thresholds where the living community continues its spiritual journey.

We may never, ever experience the fullness of the sense of Beauty, but there will come a day when that fullness shall be ours.  Until that day, however, the arts can serve to give us a foretaste of that day, for the power of truly religious art is to enlighten and renew in us again the core and source of our human dignity: the human capacity to achieve and bear a wounded innocence.[42]

It was not the intention of this paper to examine the various definitions of beauty or to propose a way to develop an appreciation of beauty.  It suffices to say that that which is beautiful is essential to the design of churches in marginal communities. This mission may be lead by architects, designers and artists who are capable of carrying out the task.  Problems of economical resources are a matter of justice.


Bates, Randolph. “Interview with Samuel Mockbee.” In Mockbee Coker: Thought and Process, edited by Lori Ryker. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1995.

Chávez Sauceda, Teresa. “Becoming a Mestizo Church.” In Alabadle: Hispanic Christian Worship, edited by Justo L. Gonzáles, 89-99,129-130. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.

Chávez Sauceda, Teresa. “Sacred Space/Public Identity.” In Handbook of Latina/o Theologies, edited by Edwin David Aponte and Miguel A. De La Torre, 250-256. St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 2006.

Deitz, Paula. “Samuel Mockbee as Master Knot of Faith.” In Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture, edited by David Moos and Gail Trechsel. Birmingham, Ala. : Birmingham Museum of Art 2003.

García-Rivera, Alejandro. The community of the beautiful: a theological aesthetics. Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Pr, 1999.

García-Rivera, Alejandro. “Aesthetics.” In Handbook of Latina/o Theologies, edited by Edwin David Aponte and Miguel A. De La Torre, 98-104. St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 2006.

García-Rivera, Alejandro, and Thomas Scirghi. Living Beauty: The Art of Liturgy. Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008

Goizueta, Roberto S. Caminemos con Jesús: Toward a Hispanic/Latino Theology of Accompaniment. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1995.

________. “U.S. Hispanic Popular Catholicism as Theopoetics.” In Hispanic/Latino Theology: Challenge and Promise, edited by Ada María Isasi-Díaz and Frenando F. Segovia. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996.

Goizueta, Roberto S. “Fiesta: Life in the Subjunctive.” In From the heart of our people : Latino/a explorations in Catholic systematic theology, edited by Orlando O. Espín and Miguel H. Díaz, 84-120. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1999.

Mockbee, Samuel, “The Rural Studio”, Architectural Design Everyday (accessed April 6 2008).

Moos, David, and Gail Trechsel, eds. Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture. Birmingham, Ala. : Birmingham Museum of Art 2003.

Oppenheimer, Andrea. “About Sambo.” In Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture, edited by David Moos and Gail Trechsel. Birmingham: Birmingham Museum of Art, 2003.

Oppenheimer, Andrea, and Timothy Hursley. Proceed and Be Bold: Rural Studio after Samuel Mockbee. New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005.

Richardson, Phyllis. Arquitectura para el espíritu. Translated by Carmen Perales Piquer. Barcelona: Blume, 2004.

Sorondo, Rodolfo. “Enseñanza y arquitectura nacional.” In Pensar la arquitectura, edited by Marchetti, 249-254. Buenos Aires: FADU/UBA, 1985.

Studio, Rural, and Design & Construction School of Architecture College of Architecture, “Rural Studio”, Rural Studio (accessed March 10, 2008).

Tippett, Krista. 2007. “The Homes and Voices of Mason’s Bend,” An Architecture of Decency, Speaking of Faith. American Public Media. Online video, (accessed April 2, 2008).

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship”, United States Catholic Conference (accessed April 1, 2006).

Vosko, Richard S. Designing Future Worship Spaces: The Mystery of a Common Vision. Vol. 8. 10 vols. Meeting House Essays, Edited by David Philippart. Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1996.


[1] Alejandro García-Rivera, “Aesthetics,” in Handbook of Latina/o Theologies, ed. Edwin David Aponte and Miguel A. De La Torre. (St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 2006), 98.

[2] Roberto S. Goizueta, “U.S. Hispanic Popular Catholicism as Theopoetics,” in Hispanic/Latino Theology: Challenge and Promise, ed. Ada María Isasi-Díaz and Frenando F. Segovia. (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1996), 262.

[3] Alejandro García-Rivera, The community of the beautiful: a theological aesthetics (Collegeville, Minn: Liturgical Pr, 1999), 9.

[4] Roberto S. Goizueta, Caminemos con Jesús: Toward a Hispanic/Latino Theology of Accompaniment (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1995), 106.

[5] Ibid.,  261-288.

[6] Ibid.,  128.

[7] Goizueta, “U.S. Hispanic Popular Catholicism as Theopoetics,” 264.

[8] Alejandro García-Rivera and Thomas Scirghi, Living Beauty: The Art of Liturgy (Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008 ), 133.

[9] Ibid.,  133-134.

[10] Ibid.,  121.

[11] Ibid.,  123.

[12] Ibid.

[13] The powers that be…

[14] Rev. Teresa Chávez Sauceda is a member of San Francisco Presbytery, Sauceda has been active for a number of years in the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s anti-racism efforts, most recently as a consultant for the church’s Anti-Racism Program and as an anti-racism facilitator.

Sauceda was formerly executive director of Manos Unidas Community Center, a community ministry program affiliated with the Presbyterian Church ‘de la Mission of San Francisco” which serves the Latina/o immigrant community in San Francisco. She has also served in several teaching positions, including adjunct faculty at San Francisco Theological Seminary and teaching assistant at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA.

In 2003, the Racial Ethnic Ministries Program Area of the National Ministries Division has named the Rev. Teresa Chavez Sauceda as associate for racial justice and advocacy.

[15] Teresa Chávez Sauceda, “Sacred Space/Public Identity,” in Handbook of Latina/o Theologies, ed. Edwin David Aponte and Miguel A. De La Torre. (St. Louis, Missouri: Chalice Press, 2006), 250.

[16] Teresa Chávez Sauceda, “Becoming a Mestizo Church,” in Alabadle: Hispanic Christian Worship, ed. Justo L. Gonzáles. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), 91.

[17] United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Built of Living Stones: Art, Architecture, and Worship”, United States Catholic Conference, (2000). (accessed April 1, 2006)

[18] Chávez Sauceda, “Sacred Space/Public Identity,” 251.

[19] Ibid.

[20] Ibid.,  255.

[21] Ibid.,  254.

[22] Roberto S. Goizueta, “Fiesta: Life in the Subjunctive,” in From the heart of our people : Latino/a explorations in Catholic systematic theology, ed. Orlando O. Espín and Miguel H. Díaz. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1999), 95.

[23] Ibid.,  94.

[24] Samuel Mockbee, “The Rural Studio”, Architectural Design Everyday, (1998). (accessed April 6 2008)

[25] Andrea Oppenheimer and Timothy Hursley, Proceed and Be Bold: Rural Studio after Samuel Mockbee (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 2005), 7.

[26] Ibid.

[27] Krista Tippett, 2007. “The Homes and Voices of Mason’s Bend,” An Architecture of Decency, Speaking of Faith. American Public Media. Online video, (accessed April 2, 2008).

[28] Oppenheimer and Hursley, 8.

[29] His students used hay bales to build walls for the studio’s first house. They employed worn-out tires for the walls of chapel, discarded Chevy Caprice windshields for the roof of a community centre, waste corrugated cardboard for one-room dwelling, and surplus carpet tiles for a family home. Ibid.

[30] Rural Studio and Design & Construction School of Architecture College of Architecture, “Rural Studio”, Rural Studio, (2006). (accessed March 10, 2008)

[31] Oppenheimer and Hursley, 47.

[32] Phyllis Richardson, Arquitectura para el espíritu, trans., Carmen Perales Piquer (Barcelona: Blume, 2004), 207.

[33] Oppenheimer and Hursley, 47.

[34] Richardson, 208.

[35] Ibid.,  190.

[36] David Moos and Gail Trechsel, eds., Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture (Birmingham, Ala. : Birmingham Museum of Art 2003), 7.

[37] Randolph Bates, “Interview with Samuel Mockbee,” in Mockbee Coker: Thought and Process, ed. Lori Ryker. (New York: Princeton Architectural Press, 1995), 99.

[38] Paula Deitz, “Samuel Mockbee as Master Knot of Faith,” in Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture, ed. David Moos and Gail Trechsel. (Birmingham, Ala. : Birmingham Museum of Art 2003), 2-3.

[39] Andrea Oppenheimer, “About Sambo,” in Samuel Mockbee and the Rural Studio: Community Architecture, ed. David Moos and Gail Trechsel. (Birmingham: Birmingham Museum of Art, 2003).

[40] Rodolfo Sorondo, “Enseñanza y arquitectura nacional,” in Pensar la arquitectura, ed. Marchetti. (Buenos Aires: FADU/UBA, 1985), 253.

[41] Richard S. Vosko, Designing Future Worship Spaces: The Mystery of a Common Vision, ed. David Philippart, 10 vols., Meeting House Essays, vol. 8  (Chicago: Liturgy Training Publications, 1996), 30.

[42] García-Rivera, “Aesthetics,” 104.

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