This morning Sonya and I visited the UU Fellowship of San Miguel for their worship service. It meets in the ballroom of a nice hotel and has a fabulous view of the famous pink stone church. The congregation consisted of about a hundred people, all of whom were American or Canadian expatriots. (Not ex-patriots as I have been spelling it. That means former patriots. Expatriots are people who live outside their home country but are still patriots.). It is estimated that about 10,000 US and Canadian expats live in San Miguel and we've met a lot of them, inside and outside the Fellowship. They differ from the expats I met in Oaxaca in that I think on the whole they are more well-heeled, and San Miguel is more geared toward the expat population than Oaxaca, where there are about 800. Some of the people we met speak little or no Spanish and seem to get along well.
The congregatiton is older. Other than a Mexican caregiver,I think I must have been the youngest person in the room at 58. Attendance varies from about 150 in Februrary and March when the snowbirds are here to about 50 in the summer. The service was lay led and well conducted, if a bit too informal for my tastes. The topic was dealing with aging and people from the congregation created the sermon by sharing their experiences, which I found inspirational. There is no religious education program for children or youth. The order of service is typically UU. It is a Fellowship and not a church. Some of you know about the Fellowship style of congregational life. To those who don't you can get a flavor from the comments of one retired minister who told us that when he came to San Miguel he was the most unwelcomed person in the group. Some people told him they moved to Mexico to escape ministers! However, now, visiting ministers are not just tolerated but welcomed.
Since the group's expenses are low, most of the offering goes to charitable organizations in town. Also, almost everyone who is physically able is an active volunteer.
The is one other sizable congregation of expats in Mexico, at Lake Chapala. Unfortunately, we won't be able to visit them this trip.
Posted on Sun, November 21, 2010
by Arvid filed under