The Episcopal Church in Navajoland awarded major grant for restoration of historic church

Episcopal Church Office of Public Affairs
Posted Feb 4, 2019

The Episcopal Church in Navajoland has been awarded a grant of $262,500 from the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations for the restoration of the historic John Gaw Meem Chapel at Good Shepherd Mission in Fort Defiance, Arizona.

The grant will enable The Episcopal Church in Navajoland to make essential renovations to the Chapel, including an updated heating and cooling system, electrical work, and restoration of the exterior masonry.

The Meem Chapel was built in 1954 by renowned architect John Gaw Meem, considered the father of the Pueblo Revival or “Santa Fe” style.  It is a gem of Southwestern ecclesiastical architecture and a spiritual home to hundreds of Episcopalians in the area, the majority of whom are Navajo.  It is also the largest and most frequently visited Episcopal Church in Navajoland, drawing thousands of visitors each year.  The Rev. Davis Given, a relative of Mr. Arthur Vining Davis, the founder of ALCOA, was the priest at Good Shepherd Mission from 1949 until 1963.

“The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations have long supported Good Shepherd Mission and the early work of the Reverend Mr. Davis Given in support of the people of Navajoland,” said Mr. J.H. Dow Davis, Chairman of the Board of the Foundations.  “In making the recent grant to The Episcopal Church of Navajoland for the restoration of the Chapel at Good Shepherd Mission, the Foundations are honored to meet an immediate need for the parish, invest in the long-term health of the Mission, and honor the legacy of the Reverend Davis Given.”

The Rt. Rev. David Bailey, bishop of The Episcopal Church in Navajoland added: “The restored building will provide an inspirational and safe space for members of the community to come together and worship for many years to come.  We are grateful to be able to honor the legacy of Arthur Vining Davis and his prior support for the Navajo people through this partnership with the Foundations.”

The Episcopal Church in Navajoland (ECN) invites people in the region to explore a loving, liberating, and life-giving relationship with God, with each other, and with the Earth.  ECN works to respond to human needs in the community through loving service; safeguard the integrity of creation and the homelands of the Navajo; and support the spiritual development of Navajo Christians while also honoring traditional beliefs and practices.

The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations were established in 1952 by former ALCOA chairman, Arthur Vining Davis.  Grounded in Arthur Vining Davis’s principled and innovative leadership in national corporate life and philanthropy, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations strengthen America’s intellectual life, humane instincts, and democracy through philanthropic support for private higher education, public educational media, interfaith leadership and religious literacy, the environment, and palliative care.

To learn more about funding needs in The Episcopal Church in Navajoland and how you can help, visit:, or contact Cecilia Malm in the Office of Development at (212) 716-6062 or