If you were to ask me in the middle of April what I would be doing during the summer I would have told you that I was excited to go on a ten-week mission trip to Mexico. I was ready to buy my ticket. Then I received difficult news. Due to a family circumstance I would need to stay in the States. Feelings of doubt as to how God may be directing my life and questions of what in the world I would be doing with my summer filled me with dread.
At the same time, San Marcos, a Latina/o Episcopal congregation connected to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Alexandria, VA, was going through similar circumstances. They had recently been left without a priest and were worried about the continuation of their congregation. However, as we see throughout all of scripture, God is continually creating new life in places where we least expect. Through the creativity of the diocese of Virginia, the Rev. John Weatherly the rector of St. Mark’s, and the San Marcos congregation, they reshaped the position for a seminarian to be the pastor of San Marcos, with Rev. Weatherly as their vicar.
My responsibilities consist of preaching in Spanish every Sunday and offering pastoral care to the congregation. San Marcos is a vibrant and vivacious congregation where the Holy Spirit is present and active. In the brief time that I’ve been there we’ve built up our vestry, created a youth group, formed a young adults group, and started holding weekly Bible studies in the homes of parishioners.
This past summer we were blessed to celebrate the following community events:
- Vestry retreat in Richmond, VA
- Father’s day with an open-air service at Lake Ana in Spotsylvania, VA
- A day in community where sixty-one members of the congregation and their family and friends went to King’s Dominion
- And on September 14th we will be celebrating 26 years of being a congregation with a festival commemorating the many countries and diverse cultures that make up San Marcos.
It is an exciting time to be working in the Church. God is doing marvelous and transformative wonders everyday, and San Marcos is a community that is right in the middle of those blessings. I am amazed at the compassion and openheartedness with which they welcomed me, and their openness to new ministries. This is a congregation that is innovative and dynamic. With the help of the Holy Spirit, San Marcos has a long and bright future ahead. It is an exciting time to be working in the Church indeed!
Jose Reyes is a seminarian at Virginia Theological Seminary. This summer he has served as the lay pastor at San Marcos.