He also serves as vicar, or priest in charge, of the approximately 2,000 square miles of the Utah Region of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland, including churches in Montezuma Creek and Oljato.
“Serving in Navajoland has long been a dream of ours,” said Snyder. He has been attending the annual convocation of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland for the past two decades.
He and his wife Debbie participated in a Navajo wedding ceremonial 10 years ago that was performed by their friend, the late Bishop Steven Plummer of Bluff.
Snyder is now in residence on the mission grounds at Bluff. His wife is in Brigham City, where he served as vicar of St. Michael’s Church before the move to Bluff.
Debbie will stay in Brigham City until their house sells.
“Being separated for now is difficult,” said Snyder. “We are definitely looking forward to being together in Bluff.”
The Episcopal Church has an historic presence in Navajoland and in the Utah region. The mission was started in the early 1940s by the late Rev. Harold Liebler. Efforts then were aimed at making health care services available for Navajo residents in the area, an activity now performed by government agencies.
Snyder noted that one of his ordination gifts was a red stole that was originally used by Father Liebler. Another such gift was the Prayer Book used by the late Bishop Wesley Frensdorff, who served as bishop of Navajoland at the time of his death 20 years ago.
When the Bluff mission was founded, it was described as a “mission to the Navajo,” said Snyder. The work of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland is evolving to make the work of the church a “mission with and for the Navajo,” he adds.
That means combining traditional Episcopal and Navajo traditions in worship and in the management of the Episcopal Church in Navajoland.
“My goal is to see more Navajo involved in the life of the church here, including both ordained leadership and lay leadership,” he said.
“I also hope to see a greater understanding that the word ‘mission’ does not refer just to a building but more importantly to what we do as a community of faith to meet the needs of the people we serve.”
He said he was proud of his efforts in Brigham City in helping with the development of an interfaith council there which included representatives of several area denominations including Roman Catholic and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saint.
“We can do much more to make our communities better by working together,” he said.
Prior to entering seminary as a “second vocation priest,” Snyder served as a caseworker for the Nevada Department of Prisons.
He also has an extensive background in church communications, including service as western correspondent for the national church’s newspaper and editor of the diocesan newspapers in Nevada and Utah.
He currently serves on the Board of Governors of Episcopal Life, the newspaper of the national church.
His duties in Navajoland include communications. He also serves as treasurer of ECN. He has joined the Blanding Rotary Club.
St. Christopher’s Mission is located two miles from Bluff on Highway 162. The phone number is 672-2296. E-mail address is Themission@frontiernet.net.
Sunday worship at St. Christopher’s is at 9 a.m. Sunday worship at St John the Baptizer in Montezuma Creek is at 11 a.m. each week. Worship at St. Mary of the Moonlight in Oljato is at 6 p.m. on the last Thursday of each month.