From Four Directions

By Dianne Aid

[June 20,2010.]

dianne-aidPart of our liturgical traditions at St. Matthew / San Mateo, Auburn, Washington includes participating in First Nations four directions prayers.  Part of this ceremony is praying for the groups of people who live to the North, the South, the East and the West.  St. Matthew / San Mateo includes in its membership people who truly come from the four directions and whose relatives still live in all parts of the globe.  We are the most diverse congregation in the Diocese of Olympia.  We are inter-cultural, meaning that we are more than separate cultural groups sharing the same space –  we are truly one.  Our vestry of nine includes four immigrants (three from Mexico and one from the Fiji Islands), First Nations people and people of European ancestry.

Sunday is the entry point for our ministry which incorporates the following week of activities in our parish hall building and Jubilee Center.  The 9:00 am service is simple, traditional and in English.  Our principal Sunday service is at 11:00 am on Sunday and is many hued (as is the 9:00 am service).

Beginning at 11:00 am, the Liturgy of the Word takes place in the parish hall building in four different rooms – adult English speakers, adult Spanish speakers, youth, and children.  After the Creed, all four groups proceed across the walk way to the sanctuary building where the Liturgy of the Table commences as a bilingual service.  Two choirs alternate (English and Spanish).  The congregation of about eighty is 50% Spanish Speakers and 50% English speakers.  English speakers include: South Pacific Islanders, First Nations people, and people of Asian, African and European ancestry.  Among the Spanish speakers are First Nations people as well.

Throughout the year, different traditions are expressed liturgically.  Beginning in late October, an altar for Day of the Dead is constructed, changing into an altar for Our Lady of Guadalupe, and then the most eclectic Christmas altar one would ever witness.  It remains through the Feast of the Presentation, very important in many Mexican indigenous communities.  We are proud hosts of the Celebration of Enmegahbowh and David Pendleton Okerhater, as well as, hosting an annual Pow Wow Etiquette workshop before attending a local Pow Wow.  Our Fiji Islander crowd throws some wonderful meals and parties, and young people speaking in English, Spanish, and Hindi dance all kinds of dances in cowboy hats and South Pacific attire.

This same crowd moves into the Monday – Friday work of the Jubilee Center which includes legal services for immigrants such as developing a micro business; “The Jubilee Kitchen and Market Place”; Zumba classes; traditional Mexican folk dancing classes; youth and children’s music lessons; and a computer café.  Other parishioners are heavily involved in Kairos prison ministry, quilting, and a variety of other works of service and compassion.

This new model of Sunday Ministry which has led to a very engaged Monday – Friday congregation began two years ago.  It was an experiment.  It seems to be working.  We are a vital growing congregation!

St. Matthew/San Mateo has been engaged in Latino ministry for ten years.  Starting separately, we have moved from isolation to coming together.  We celebrate together and we share in the particular struggles facing immigrant members in the current pressures on immigrant communities.  Three years ago we declared ourselves a Sanctuary Congregation.  When asked why be a Sanctuary Congregation by a reporter, one of our members answered, “It is safe here.”

[Dianne Aid, TSSF, Third Order, Society of St.  Francis; Director of the Jubilee Center at St. Matthew / San Mateo, Auburn, Washington.]