History of Our Community

History of the High Desert Center for Spiritual Living

In 1965, a metaphysical study group formed in Albuquerque under the leadership of Colonel A. L. James, USAF, Retired. Initially, he conducted Sunday evening classes in his living room.

Through the efforts of Robert Hesse, who later became the first Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and the kindness of Attorney Louis B. Ogada, who provided legal services, the group was incorporated as Science of Mind of New Mexico. Regular Sunday services began in the parlor of the YWCA at 314 Fourth Street SW. Later, the group moved to the gymnasium in the same building, where they also conducted a Wednesday night service.

In the spring of 1965, the group affiliated with the United Church of Religious Science, Los Angeles, California and became the First Church of Religious Science of Albuquerque, now the Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living.

Rev. Richard Imprescia became the Senior Minister of the First Church of Religious Science on Jan. 1, 1985, and retired on Dec. 31, 1995.  His wife, Rev. Kay Davis, served as an Assistant Minister at the First Church of Religious Science from January 1993 until Jan. 15, 1996.

Coming out of retirement, Rev. Richard Imprescia formed the High Desert Church of Religious Science (HDCRS) and became its first Senior Minister. HDCRS affiliated with the United Church of Religious Science. Sunday services began on June 7, 1998, at the Sandia Preparatory School.  Rev. Kay Davis served as a staff minister from Nov. 1, 1998, until May 16, 1999.

Rev. Richard Imprescia resigned from HDCRS effective May 30, 1999, and a special meeting of the membership was held on May 16, 1999, to explore the question, “Where do we go from here?”  The membership determined to continue operating and dedicated group assumed all operations of the church, including arranging for monthly speakers.  Rev. Richard Imprescia was an active, supporting member of the HDCRS community and a guest speaker until moving to Texas in 2002.

HDCSR Sunday services moved to the Petroglyph Hills Elementary School library in early 2000, bringing Religious Science teachings to Albuquerque’s rapidly growing west side.

2002 was a year of change for HDCRS:

  • Jac Blackman, a member of HDCRS and guest speaker during the open pulpit period, became the HDCRS Senior Minister on Jan. 1, 2002,
  • HDCRS moved to the Paradise Hills Community Center in May of 2002, and
  • Kim Schavey became the first HDCRS practitioner in August of 2002.

HDCSR was renamed to the High Desert Center for Spiritual Living (HDCSL) in March of 2007.  This reflected the change of the United Church of Religious Science to the United Centers for Spiritual Living.

The Centers for Spiritual Living was formed by the reunion of the United Centers for Spiritual Living and International Centers for Spiritual Living (formerly Religious Science International) in 2011.  In 2012, HDCSL’s affiliation changed to the Centers for Spiritual Living.

As HDCSL attendance expanded, a search was mounted to find a space on the west side of the Rio Grande to house the growing community, allow for permanent set-up of church assets and provide space for events and classes throughout the week.  In January 2008, the church moved to its present location at 5621 Paradise Hills Blvd NW.

Rev. Jac Blackman retired in March 2014 and continues to be a guest speaker and vibrant member of the HDCSL community.

Rev. Darlene Dunning served as the Senior Minister of HDCSL from April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2016. Rev. Davine Young served as an Assistant Minister from January 2016 until May 2016, assisting the HDCSL community transition into another open pulpit period.

Heartfelt gratitude goes to practitioner Carol Campbell, a dedicated group of HDCSL members who took over operations of the Center, and three individuals who spoke regularly during the open pulpit time:  Rev. Ann Rae, Rev. Jac Blackman, and Ministerial Intern Lin Nowicki RScP.

The HDCSL welcomed Rev. Heidi Peck as our Senior Minister, starting Nov. 1, 2017.