Over the past weeks you’ve heard from people who have been part of life at St. Alban’s Anglican church in the far-distant past, and many of those people are still with us. This week we get the perspective of some newer arrivals at St. Alban’s: Marina Papais and Daniel Collett. They have been with us over the past three years, and this is about their experience of ministry, worship, and work at St. Alban’s.
Daniel and Marina spoke of the wide range of ministries that go on outside the church doors, and their public art projects are one of those ministries. Marina is an exceptional glass artist who creates beautiful works in mosaic glass, while Daniel creates the structures that enable them to be hung. You can see her striking art pieces in the entryway of St. Alban’s hall, and mounted on buildings and on special benches throughout Ashcroft.
Marina notes that St. Alban’s recognizes their ministry of art and supports her in her work, and she finds that very meaningful. She spoke of “always being given choices by God” as to what to do with her gift of creativity. She could have been a famous international artist, but that’s not what’s important to Marina—love is!
Marina and Daniel have a studio set up at the HUB and many people, young and older, have dropped in to the studio to help with various public pieces. Daniel notes Marina shares her gift of quiet while working in the studio, and this allows people to open up with what’s happening in their lives. She says that it’s “the process and the peaceful environment” that supports people to share their issues.
In thinking about their experience at St. Alban’s, Daniel and Marina say they like that no one is “preachy” here. There is a gentle message that comes through with no one trying to push someone into believing the way they do. Marina notes they came with a “strong spiritual base,” as she had previously studied many years to become a sweat-lodge priest. In that tradition, as the holder of the water she says there was no judgment and no advice given. Her role was to mirror what was being said once everyone in the circle had their opportunity to speak. Marina says it was easy to fit into the open, spiritual space at St. Alban’s; that she found “Love first, and respect for other cultures,” and this, too, helped them to stay here. She says, “Our church embodies love and freely loves. We are open, accepting, nurturing, and that fits with who we are.”
Daniel says he finds St. Alban’s appealing as it is not priest-centered. He has observed and experienced that “the priest is at the same level as everyone else and is respected for the role, but is equal and that’s the way it should be.” His experience is that love flows into the hall, and he feels the Spirit throughout the whole building: “There’s a nice vibe in the whole place.” Daniel adds that “Whenever anything in your life can be love-centered, you’re on the right track! People feel safe, not judged, and that’s St. Alban’s in a nutshell.”
“God is everywhere!” Marina emphasizes. “If you are a spiritual person and want to feel safe in your spirituality, St. Alban’s upholds you.”