Biography in Decades: 1950s

twenties photos

Malcolm Boyd in the Taize monastic community of France in 1957

Malcolm Boyd’s first parish, St. George’s in Indianapolis, 1958

Malcolm struggled to know the will of God in his life. In this period he revisited Denver to consult with his old mentor Dean Roberts , who was a figure for Malcolm of integrity and courage. This led to one day when Malcolm sat in the office of the Episcopal Bishop of Los Angeles and asked to become a postulant for holy orders in the church.
      In the fall of 1951 Malcolm commenced studies for the priesthood at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific in Berkeley. Three years later, in l954, he graduated and was ordained a deacon in Los Angeles. The next year he was in England and Switzerland while engaged in further theological studies and provided an opportunity to study various experiments in church outreach and evangelism. In 1955 came ordination to the priesthood in Los Angeles. In the following two years Malcolm engaged in post-graduate studies at the Union Theological Seminary in New York City and wrote his first book, “Crisis in Communication,” which dealt with the relation of theology to the mass media. In the summer of l957 he visited and worked in the Taize Community in rural France. Upon his return to the U.S., he was invited to become rector of St. George’s Church in the inner-city of Indianapolis. His second book, “Christ and Celebrity Gods,” was published.
      He was called in 1959 to become Episcopal Chaplain at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Here, he began a church-related coffeehouse named The Golden Grape. In ironical ways it became celebrated nationally as a form of new ministry. In the process, Malcolm became identified by the media as “the coffeehouse priest” and “the espresso priest.” Also in l959 came Malcolm’s first major encounter with the emerging civil rights movement. He was asked to be the convocation speaker for Religious Emphasis Week at Louisiana State University. In his opening address he made a clear, unequivocal statement opposing racial segregation. He was later invited to speak at an Educational Spring Conference in Louisiana under the sponsorship of the Student Christiana Council of L.S.U. But when the conference was abruptly cancelled, the New York Times reported the incident under the headline:


This was the beginning of a decade of active involvement for Malcolm Boyd in the civil rights movement.