Misión Buen Pastor is EDOW’s newest church plant. In just a few years of existence, it has had two physical locations and weathered the global pandemic. I came alongside the congregation as their priest during the season of Advent, at the start of the current church year. During the Easter season, we moved to our current location at Good Shepherd, Silver Spring. We are in the process of meeting the formal requirements to become a fully functioning mission of the Diocese, meanwhile building our relationship with the congregation that has welcomed us at Good Shepherd and beginning to get to know our new neighborhood.
Life is pretty simple at Buen Pastor. We arrived at Good Shepherd with our hymnals, a donated ceramic chalice and paten, a few purificators, and an improvised set of glass vessels for the elements, originally intended to be the sugar bowl and cream pitchers for serving coffee or tea. We use a pre-printed seasonal booklet with the liturgy and readings, provided by the Diocesan Hispanic ministries office. We sing a capella and gather the offering in a small wicker basket. As it turns out, you can do beautiful, faithful church without a copier, an organ, or anything made of silver or brass.
The simplicity of congregational life at Buen Pastor feeds my soul. I would even suggest it provides a needed corrective to church customs that have come to rely too heavily on costly displays of beauty and elaborate programs. At the same time, it makes me wonder. In a church rich in buildings and land and brass and silver, why do we expect that our immigrant congregations will make do with so little? Is there a path to full citizenship in The Episcopal Church, the sort of citizenship that includes a full stake in the resources that have been accumulated and passed down through generations? We are rightfully examining the ways that centuries of societal injustice replicated within the church continue to undermine our life together. We might consider how our immigrant congregations are easily relegated to the status of guest or tenant, one mistake or misunderstanding away from having to pack up and move on, in search of a place to call home.
The Rev. Anna Olson
Vicar, Misión Buen Pastor
Interim Rector, Good Shepherd