Sherryl Parks | Kalamath Drive
The DMCC Crack Culinary Team (CCT) in St. Peter’s kitchen, where they have just finished making their incomparable Lemon Cakes. Photo courtesy DMCC.
Sherryl Parks interviews the Rev. Paige Blair, Rector of St. Peter’s in Del Mar for almost two years now.
How does this congregation differ from your parish in Maine?
This congregation is larger— from attendance and physical plant to staff. Otherwise, the congregation is, in many ways, similar: full of big hearted people who really want to serve and love God and their neighbor, who are instinctively generous and caring—and who love to spend time together, really enjoy a good parish gathering or parish party.
How does having the church in Del Mar impact you?
Del Mar is a great community. It is also similar to my previous context: a “village” feel and a strong sense of community, and very close to a large metropolitan area. I am enjoying the growing partnership with the City, and our other neighbors, residents and businesses both. One aspect my husband and I appreciate—as do our dogs—is Del Mar’s dog-friendliness.
You and your husband Gene are also residents in Del Mar. What are your favorite activities that are not church-related?
Gene and I regularly run the hills around our neighborhood. We love seeing what is in bloom, which birds have migrated back to the area, to see the dolphins playing in the surf, or to watch the changes in the weather: fog, clouds, rainbows… and to visit our “dog friends” and neighbors along the way.. Outside of Del Mar our favorite places are Sea World (we love interacting with the dolphins) and the Wild Animal Park. We also enjoy exploring the really amazing restaurants in the area.
St. Peter’s is the only church in the City. What community services, groups and events are you asked to help support for the wider, non-church community and how is that impacting the church?
In a given week, just about every day of the week, we host meetings and gatherings for various community groups and organizations, from Boy Scout Troop 713, to the Del Mar Rotary, to the Toastmasters, Del Mar Community Connections, the Del Mar Foundation, the Torrey Pines Docents, and many 12-step recovery groups. And this is only a small sampling! We also host piano recitals, concerts, violin lessons, life-story writing… and a number of one-time guests. Last year we began hosting the Registry of Voters in their pre-election training of poll workers.
Most organizations offer a donation for the use of the space, which then allows us to cover the expenses of the campus—which are considerable, because of the high volume of traffic. Funds beyond upkeep help us to engage ministry from outreach ministries to spiritual life and worship ministries. It feels like a win-win for all: groups have a hospitable place to gather, we are blessed with regular engagement with our neighbors, and more and more ministry can grow.
Have the parking changes at the church and along Maiden Lane been positive for the church?
This has been an important change. Because so many groups use the St. Peter’s campus for their gatherings, having access to the parking lot, and regular turn over on Maiden Lane has been very helpful. I understand completely that this has meant a change in our neighborhood. But now on Thursday, more Rotarians are able to park in our parking lot, and our staff can find a spot, too. When the Toastmasters are here, there is still room for folks to park and come to the Parish Office. On Sunday mornings, older parishioners and younger parents who are juggling kids can more easily find spots in the lot, or on Maiden Lane.
Episcopal Churches are Protestant, right? Is anyone welcome to attend your services?
All are welcome to come to our services! We like to think of ourselves as a hybrid when it comes to the protestant/catholic question. We are protestant in that we hold that salvation is something between an individual and God, and that the church/a priest is not needed to mediate that relationship. At the same time, we value the sacraments and liturgy that many identify as “more catholic,” and believe strongly that it is together that we do the work of unfolding the reign of God: feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick, the lonely and the lost.