International Church of Cannabis

Next week at the American Academy of Religion in Denver, I will once again have the privilege and pleasure of co-leading a tour of intriguing religious sites. One interesting place that we haven’t been able to include on this year’s tour is the International Church of Cannabis. That’s right, it is a church formed around the “lifestance” that “an individual’s spiritual journey, and search for meaning, is one of self-discovery that can be accelerated with ritual cannabis use.” Members of the church refer to themselves as Elevationists.

The Gothic-revival building the church occupies in the Washington Park neighborhood was built by in 1904 for the congregation of Trinity Lutheran.

Barnitz_Memorial_Lutheran_Church__So_Logan__E_Dakota
Barnitz Memorial Lutheran Church – So. Logan & E. Dakota [1910-1930?], Western History and Genealogy Dept., Denver Public Library
The congregation soon renamed itself Barnitz Memorial Lutheran in honor of Lutheran pastor and missionary, Samuel Bacon Barnitz (1838–1901). Later it served for over twenty years as the home of Mount Calvary Apostolic Church.

After Mount Calvary left in 2015, the Elevationists purchased it and transformed it with the help of two artists. Los Angeles-based artist Kenny Scharf covered the doors and filed the front windows with a cosmic design. Spanish muralist Okuda San Miguel transformed the sanctuary interior with brightly colored geometric murals in his distinctive style.

international_church_of_cannabis
International Church of Cannabis, January 2018, Jeffrey Beall [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons
International Church of Cannabis
Ceiling and rear wall, Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

A full gallery of photographs is available in a April 2017 HuffPost article.

On their website, the Elevationists advertise hours on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons when the church is open to the public. Because Colorado law does not allow the public consumption of marijuana, cannabis may not be used during these times. That is reserved for member-only events.

Telling the History of Religion in Toronto through Congregations

Roberto Perin’s Many Rooms of this House: Religious Diversity in Toronto since 1840 tells the history of religion life in Toronto’s West End over a 160-year period. It offers a kind of composite biography of the many Protestant, Anglican, Catholic, Orthodox, Jewish, Hindu, and Buddhist congregations that have been centers of community life.  The book is stunning in its detail and scope. You can read my full review at Reading Religion.