Sparrow Hawk Revealed

This is an article I wrote in the July 18, 2005 issue of The Northeastern.  At the time I was a staff write, but did go on to become an editor, and this was my first front page headline. Sparrow Hawk is a controversial and purportedly odd place up in the hills near the Illinois River.  I was proud of the interviews and research that went into this article and attempted to set the record straight about the people I met there.

Aura of mystery surrounds Sparrow Hawk

Many rumors circulate around Tahlequah and the NSU campus regarding Sparrow Hawk Village.  Some say that the residents are a mysterious cult, and that they are bad news.

“I’ve heard the rumors, but my kid’s doctor lives there with his wife who is a dentist.  I can attest that they are very normal,” said professor Kin Thompson.”

Everyone seems to have their own opinion as to exactly what goes on there.

“Somebody said they worship peacocks,” said Donita Osawee, Tahlequah graduate.”

While the peacock rumor is one that will raise eyebrows, it is not near as disturbing as some more extreme ideas such as residents of Sparrow Hawk Village throwing babies off of he cliff!  This idea is one that even residents of Sparrow Hawk cannot explain.

“We have never heard that one, but of course, it’s completely ridiculous,” said Doris Pass, Sparrow Hawk resident from Tulsa.

Sparrow Hawk village is many things. It is Sancta Sophia Seminary, a university where students from all over the world come to study theology and various religions This school has all of the facilities of most universities including a cafeteria, a wellness center and of course, a library.

“This is a metaphysical research library, one third of our collection are books that are no longer in print and extremely rare.  We have over 150 subjects covering all areas of spirituality,”  said Jenny Roberts, Sparrow Hawk librarian from Tuttle.

The library is primarilty for student use but people in Tahlequah can apply for library priveleges.

“People in town have them,” said Roberts.

Sparrow Hawk is also the LIfe of Christ  Community Church, where every Sunday morning members gather to praise and worship by learning and singing.

“We sing all kinds of songs, not just typically religious ones.  We sing ‘We are the World,’ ‘Oklahoma,’ and ‘It’s a Small World,’ then we also sing all the national, patriotic songs,”  said Pass.

Founded in 1981 by Carol Parrish an Charles Harrah, Sparrow Hawk Village is a place where individuals and families choose to live in a small community, where they know their neighbors and enjoy some of the most beautiful views in the area.  The community currently has between 90 to 100 residents, ranging in age from 2 to 90 years old.  They have their own fire department with 22 firefighters including women.

“We get more calls for 911 and emergency responses than actually fighting fires,” said Charles Pass, Sparrow Hawk fire chief.

The church, which is “Holistic Christian,” is a Christian church, but they emphasize the metaphysical in life and adapt aspects of various religions to explain life’s mysteries.  To many Christians the idea that there are many roads to the same God is blasphemy.  However, for Holistic Christians, this is exactly what they believe.

“We believe there are many paths to the same afterlife, whether you are Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or Muslim, you are welcome at our church and we incorporate those beliefs,” said Pass.

As far as peacocks, there place in Sparrow Hawk life is greatly exaggerated.

“When Carol Parrish started this community a peacock appeared on the mountain and to protect it and take care of it they built a cage and started feeding it.  Over the years people have given peacocks to the community and we always take them in.  We raise them just like some people raise llamas or anything else,” said Pass.

The peacocks are nothing more than pets, but what about the cross on top of the hill?  Many locals talk about how it used to be painted black.  This accusation of a black cross on Sparrow Hawk hill might help explain some of the feelings about the place.

“When the well was first drilled there was a black waterproof undercoating that was put on it.  It was painted white after a couple months, but people had already started talking about how we put up a black cross.  I suppose people just believe what they want to believe,” said Pass.

After a visit, it may seem to be that Sparrow Hawk village is a pretty normal place.  Visitors see residents as nice and friendly as the could be and Sparrow Hawk residents love when outsiders come up to learn what they are all about. They are open to the public and they have a gift shop and bookstore where visitors can buy things like candles and incense.  Church services are held every Sunday morning at 11 a.m. and guests are always invited to come and check it out.

“We love when people come and visit us, we just wish more did,” said Pass. 8762077_orig

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