Thoughts from a anonymous parishioner at St Paul's Anglican, San Miguel Allende
The welcoming atmosphere of St Paul’s endeared the church to my wife and I, as did the embrace of our children, despite their penchant for lying on the church floor or mooning the parish at the communion rail. The reason that we come to St Paul’s are the homilies and the liturgy. In these, we found a church that was genuinely striving to square the Gospel messages with the problems of the world in an honest and intelligent way.
There was no appeal to cheap emotionalism or reliance on dogma, but an acknowledgment that it can be hard to make sense of the Christian message, or the notion of an all loving God in the midst of such an avaricious, dishonest and cruel world. In the end, this honest effort made the truth of Christ's message brighter for us.
Sunday School in San Miguel Allende
St Paul's small Sunday school is wonderful and I am very happy that the boys are gaining some very basic theological concepts (we have figured out that Jesus likes cheese - his favorite variety is Oaxaca) and more as they sit an pay attention to the children's sermon each week. People in my age group, struggle to spend more time with their children, not less. That I know of there is no other Sunday school offered in San Miguel Allende, other parents may find a semblance of spirituality with reference to yoga, some notions of live and let live and the occasional tip of the hat to the importance of meditation. As judgmental as this statement clearly sounds, it is just meant to convey that in my view, they are very content with a modicum of spiritual sense that seems to be quite enough. I wish that my needs were as easily met.
The people I know, who have indicated an interest in St Paul’s tend to often be the same people I respect most. They have either made a very honest and sincere effort to make sense of the notion of God in the face of the same problems outlined above and have come to the conclusion that they just can’t seem to make it all fit together, or they have developed the view that churches just don’t really have the answer. Again, this is after much reflection and thought. People have asked me, with a genuine desire to understand, why I go to St. Paul’s specifically, or to a church in general? I say, “it makes sense and the practice of going is an effective way to convey spirituality to children”. To me, Church community is made up people who are genuinely seeking a real and deep truth, have some Christian background or leanings, and are potentially attracted by the prospect that the tradition of church is still honestly seeking to make sense of the world in the light of God’s truth. In a certain sense, these people seem to be the best and the brightest of those members of my own generation whom I have met in San Miguel.
I bring all of this up with you because, in my view, more than anything else, it will be the homilies and the honest confrontation of the incongruity between Christ’s message and the world. St Paul's is looking forward to its next rector to arrive to this small parish and hopefully he/she will draw more people to St Paul’s. This may be to state the obvious, but I just wanted to share this perspective.