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An ongoing series spotlighting the amazing individuals who make up the “we” in We Are All Saints, this month Matt Mueller-Curson writes about Vivian Varela.

What does it say about a person who gladly commutes over an hour every Sunday to attend services at All Saints Church? The most obvious conclusion is that they’ve found something worth traveling for and for ASC member Vivian Varela that absolutely rings true. Vivian, a resident of Garden Grove in Orange County, has been a faithful attendee and contributor to our parish for roughly fifteen years. Her faithful service has been felt by numerous church ministries and by anyone who has had the pleasure of working alongside her.

Vivian was raised in Corona, California and grew up worshiping in the Mexican Baptist Church. She is a 4th generation Mexican-American and identifies herself as Chicano. After high school, she dedicated her life to spreading her faith and the gospel by joining a missionary organization working in Latin America. Between the ages of 18 and 26 Vivian served in El Salvador, Guatemala and Chile. It was in Chile that she spent the most time working but to her great disappointment, she was removed from her post after candidly confessing her confusion with her own sexuality to a fellow missionary. It was twenty years before she ever went back to church.

Back in the US, Vivian started following her thirst for education at Fullerton College and later at Pacific Oaks College in Pasadena. After graduating with a degree in Human Development, Vivian took a vacation back to Chile. While visiting she began a romantic relationship that kept her in Chile for 10 years. At the end of the relationship Vivian was ready to come back to the US. She returned to her family but was confronted with substance abuse and addiction with one of her siblings. Helping their struggle and helping herself, Vivian found Al Anon and it was in those rooms that she finally started making some sense of her own spirituality.

Vivian first came to All Saints Church the Sunday after the horrible events of September 11, 2001. She had heard of All Saints before and after the tragedy felt the need to be with Godly people. She was so impressed with the welcoming nature and inclusive teachings of ASC that she just started attending every Sunday, driving up every morning from Long Beach where she was living.

Vivian has a long history of working with the ASC Children’s Ministry. She also serves on the Alter Guide and has been very helpful with the transcription ministry. She volunteered to be on the Integrity team who advocated for full inclusion of LGBTQ inclusion with the Episcopal Church. She is very involved with the Latino/Hispanic Leadership Programs with the Los Angeles Episcopal Diocese. Vivian is an active attendee of the 1pm Spanish-language service at ASC and is a graduate of the Education for Ministry (EFM) program. Vivian is currently a customer service representative at the Episcopal Diocese Credit Union, which she finds to be very rewarding work.

Moving forward, Vivian is very excited about any and all the ways that God may call her to serve, especially regarding racial justice. Thank you Vivian for your continued devotion and service at ASC and beyond.